2013 Now in Korea: Ein Positionspapier der UPP
The Unified Progressive Party’s position regarding the government’s petition to ban the UPP
The Park Geun-hye government filed a petition on November 5, 2013, asking the Constitutional Court for a political party dissolution ruling against the Unified Progressive Party (UPP). The government’s rationale is that the UPP’s platform and activities are against the basic democratic order of the Constitution of South Korea, making the UPP an unconstitutional party that must be disbanded.
The UPP is heir to the Victory of People 21 of 1997 and Democratic Labor Party of 2000, and the political party that represents workers, peasants and the common people. Its ideology is progressive democracy, and its platform is based on the ideals of autonomy, peace, equality and reunification. Such a platform is not in conflict with the ideals pursued by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. Through its political activities based on progressive democracy, the UPP has amassed 100,000 members and currently holds six National Assembly seats, 112 local council seats and two district mayorships.
The history of South Korea shows that the mechanism to ban a political party or stop its activities was abused by dictators to persecute their political opponents. The dictator Rhee Syng-man outlawed the Progressive Party after ordering the arrest of his political rival Cho Bong-am and other leaders of the Progressive Party on charges of espionage. Cho was executed the following year. A retrial 50 years later found Cho not guilty. Military dictators like Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan who had seized power through coup-de-tats used political tools such as emergency measures, constitutional revision and emergency martial law to suppress opposition parties. The current government’s attempt to dissolve the UPP is a sign that it wants to revert to such dictatorship. It is moving in the opposite direction of the international community that seeks to advance democracy and expand the freedom of political activities.
The government has been in crisis as soon as Park Geun-hye took office, due to recent discoveries of illegal interference in last year’s presidential elections by the National Intelligence Service and other state agencies. The government is trying to climb out of this mess by using the UPP as its scapegoat, accusing UPP legislator Lee Seok-ki of conspiring to overthrow the government and petitioning the Constitutional Court to dissolve the UPP altogether, all on the pretext of strengthening national security. The UPP has been the driving force behind the alliance of opposition parties pursuing democracy, reform and progress in the face of the conservative forces dominating South Korean society. So by attacking the UPP, the government and ruling party Saenuri is seeking to destroy the opposition alliance and ultimately entrench the power of the conservatives. Many Koreans agree that Park Geun-hye’s persecution of the UPP is a form of political retaliation against UPP presidential candidate Lee Jung-hee, who was Park’s most vocal critic in the presidential election last year.
The government’s constitutional petition to ban the UPP is in itself unconstitutional, as it violates democracy and the freedom of political parties. The fate of the UPP should be in the hands of its members and the voting public, not the government or the nine judges of the Constitutional Court. The UPP is fighting to protect democracy in the face of unjust oppression by the government.
The UPP appeals to the spirit of solidarity of the champions of peace, human rights and democracy around the world. Please voice your support so that the UPP can keep fighting for democracy. Please voice your protest and ask the South Korean government to withdraw its petition to ban the UPP.