The Statement of the Evangelical Baptist Church & the Korean Laymen's Evangelical Fellowship (June 8, 2014)
1. Prosecuter Choi Jae-kyung, this is different from what you promised.
On May 21st, we opened the gate of Geumsuwon. We did this under the condition that the rosecutors would cooperate without any physical clash and re-confirm that there is no connection between Odaeyang and the church and the former chairman Yoo, which had already been publicly announced by the Prosecution. You also promised that you would not expand investigation into the church and that you would protect the lands that are associated with the church. Because you promised this, we cooperated with the search without any physical clash after persuading the members of the church who had insisted we should never open the door. But now we doubt whether you are holding your end of the bargain as we are holding our end.
On June 1, the Suncheon church was raided, and the members of Jeonju church were under surveillance without any good reason. On June 6, the representative of the Evangelical Baptist Church was summoned again for interrogations. In addition, agricultural unions became the target of investigation after the prosecutors promised to protect them because of the circumstances regarding the land that belongs to church members. As if the prosecutors were gathering more supporting evidence, the head of the Samhae Fishery Agricultural Union, Mr. Cho Pyung-soon, and few other representatives were subpoenaed. This type of behavior is clearly a violation of promise.
2. Is arresting without a warrant the prosecution’s investigation tactic?
On May 27 at 11PM at night, a church member Mrs. Kim was arrested without a warrant in Suncheon. In the middle of the night, several men broke her windows, destroyed the front door, and entered her house without identifying themselves where she lived by herself. They just handcuffed her without showing the arrest warrant. A mother in her 50’s, she was sexually harassed and taken in to the Suncheon police station and then to Incheon. Her son had no idea where she was the entire time. When he was notified much later, he inquired about what kind of crime she committed to put her in jail. However, he could not get any information related to the incident and was denied any visitation rights. Later we found out she was arrested for letting Mr. Chu, who was arrested before her, use her home phone and lending him 40 cents. This is absurd. She was called by numbers instead of her name and had to live in the detention center until she was released after her arrest warrant was rejected. But she has not recovered yet and is still in shock from coercive arrest and the police forcing her to confess.
The day of the local election was the day many people said, ‘If Yoo Byung-eun were to get arrested, it would be that day.’ At dawn of that day, a church member surnamed Lee, who managed the church funds for missionary work until few years ago, was arrested without a warrant. There was a report that said he was the driver of Yoo Dae-kyun, but this was not true. Eventually he was released, too. But this type of arrest where people are put in jail first without a cause and then released when they are found innocent continues. Our trust in the prosecution continues to break as this type of incident continues. We are even suspecting many of the church members who were arrested earlier might have been arrested the same way. We already said what is happening now in 2014 is very similar to what happened in 1991, but we hoped things would be different since 23 years have passed. But the prosecution has not changed at all. In 1991, the prosecution lied by telling the former chairman Yoo Byung-Eun that he was called in as a witness but arrested him right away. Then he was charged with fraud unrelated to the Odaeyang incident. The same tactic continues. Worst of all, the prosecutor in charge at that time had an interview with the press telling how proud he was of his lies. Even if his behavior was accepted back then, shouldn’t the Korean Prosecution act differently in 2014? Whether they are guilty or not, arresting first without a cause will not convince us to cooperate with the investigation, and it will definitely not convince us to believe the prosecution’s investigative reports.
3. Reporters, how will you face the responsibility for transcription reporting?
A few days ago, numerous reports came out stating how Mr. Yoo Byung-eun tried to seek asylum but was denied. The countries included in these reports were France, the Czech Republic, etc. Also there were reports saying they were planning to increase the number of investigators around the embassies. Is this true? Then I will ask again. Who in the world tried to seek asylum, and how did this person get denied? Amongst the church members, no one knew anything about how the former chairman Yoo Byung-eun tried to seek asylum and some even inquired about this by calling many different embassies. Of course, every single person answered that they knew nothing, because there is no way this could have happened.
A third party cannot apply for asylum. Then do you think Yoo Byung-eun himself could have applied for asylum? That is even more impossible. But then how come news reports on this topic decorated the press for days? We cannot possibly understand. We do not even know how the word ‘asylum’ even leaked into the media from the beginning.
As a reporter, isn’t it your basic responsibility to confirm whether this is true before writing a news report? How will you face the responsibility for inaccurate, misleading reports when you keep writing articles based on false information leaked by unreliable sources and just writing down whatever is told to you?
We will not bear this witch-hunt without a fight like we did last time with the Odaeyang incident back in 1991. We will thoroughly examine and look into every false report from the press after the Sewol ferry accident as well as every incident of violation of basic human rights and invasion of privacy, and we will take legal action and file a claim for damages and losses. So please reporters, we ask you not to write down anything and everything that the prosecution tells you, and please, we ask you to write news reports after confirming whether the information provided is true. No one can guarantee that the prosecution will not lie.
Members of the Evangelical Baptist Church and the Korean Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship