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Mr Yul Choi, founder of Friends of the Earth in Korea, was jailed in February 2013 in response to his campaign against a government project. Student, Choi Yul had opposed the military regime and was in prison for six years from 1975.
As a leading environmental activist for 40 years, Mr. Choi also founded the Korea Green Foundation and the Korean Federation of Ecologists Movement (KFEM) which has been a member of Friends of the Earth International since 2002. He also leads the Korea Green Foundation. In 2005, he was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmentalism and the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environmental Program.
Over the past four years, the Korean government has persecuted Mr. Choi for his fight against the destructive Four Rivers Project, a massive government plan that includes 16 dams, on the Han River, Nakdong River, Geum River and Yeongsan River in South Korea. This project, initiated by the then South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, was first announced as part of the “Green New Deal” policy launched in January 2009, and was later included in the government’s five-year national plan in July 2009, and it was finished on October 21, 2011.
«What happened to Mr. Choi Yul is the direct result of his campaigning», said Karen Orenstein, from Friends of the Earth U.S, who led a support campaign for Yul Choi, by starting a petition asking for his release.
«We have already collected more than 14 440 signatures», she said.
This set of projects on the four major rivers of Korea could destroy river ecosystems and transform meandering rivers in straight water streams. Despite the Korean government’s claims of its safety for local people and the environment, it seems unlikely that these dams will prevent flooding and improve water quality.
Moreover, this act of persecution may seem «ironic from the Korean government, as the new host of the United Nations Green Climate Fund», highlights Karen Orenstein.
Photo : freechoiyul.net
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