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Not a Criminal

Joan Winifred

i don’t commit crimes…don’t act against /(i respect) the law of the land where i inhabit. i happen to live/born in the US.

IF i lived somewhere else? (that’s another post;)..i probably/possibly could/would be viewed as a “criminal”…for my conscientious objection…(please check it out)…

South Korea offers only two options for conscientious objectors: compromise and join the military or go to prison. In clear violation of international treaties on human rights, South Korea offers no other option for conscientious objectors. Compounding this injustice is the permanent prison record that follows them, which the government refuses to expunge. This situation adds insult to injury because they are unjustly treated long after they serve their prison term. Their permanent “criminal” record severely restricts their employment prospects and curtails their travel to places like Japan—a common destination for South Koreans.

Other men in South Korea who were convicted for conscientious objection experience the same injustices. For example, in December 2011, Mr. Jin-mo Kang and his Japanese wife, Kotomi, traveled to Japan to visit her family. Mr. Kang was denied entry because of his criminal record as a conscientious objector and was forced to leave his wife in Japan while he returned to South Korea. Though he has tried again, immigration officials have not allowed him to enter Japan.

Japan is an exception in treating a conscientious objector as a persona non grata. However, in Mr. Oh’s case, Japan’s consulate in South Korea eventually gave him a travel visa. He presented consulate officials with a letter of invitation from friends in Japan who had made arrangements for his stay and provided other guarantees. He entered Japan in early July 2016.

In contrast to Japan, most other democratic countries recognize that conscientious objectors are not criminals and allow them to enter the country despite their “criminal” record. Some countries go much further in accommodating them. Australia, Canada, and France have granted asylum to South Korean men who are conscientious objectors. This harmonizes with the most recent UN Human Rights Council resolution on the issue, which encourages States “to consider granting asylum to those conscientious objectors to military service who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin owing to their refusal to perform military service when there is no provision, or no adequate provision, for conscientious objection to military service.”

André Carbonneau, an international human rights lawyer, said: “The successful entry of Mr. Oh into Japan illustrates that accommodating these men is not so difficult. It is simply a matter of the Japanese authorities implementing a standard policy of recognizing that conscientious objectors are peaceful individuals who are not ‘criminals’ and who, in spite of their prison record, should be allowed into the country.”

(joan’s highlight…excerpted Criminal Record for Conscientious Objectors Adds Insult to Injury, October 12, 2016)

Question for Consideration:

Is it a “crime” to label/(punish) a peaceful person a “criminal” for life?

10/20/16 @ 11:10 a.m.

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