Urge Korean government to Put Democracy Before Profits
In a spirited and engaging demonstration, more than forty people belonging to the South Asian Solidarity Initiative (SASI) and the Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group (MZPSG) along with other community, environmental, and labor groups gathered outside the South Korean consulate in New York City to demand, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, that the Korean government intervene to pull back the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) from its planned steel plant/port and mines in the Eastern Indian state of Orissa. Holding up placards demanding “STOP POSCO” and “LAND RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS,” the demonstrators braved the icy cold weather and handed a letter with the demand for POSCO’s withdrawal from India to the Korean Consulate. Speaking at an impromptu press conference on East 45th St outside the Consulate offices, Ruchi Chaturvedi, from South Asia Solidarity Initiative, said that “The Korean government has never hesitated to promote POSCO. And now that it is clear that POSCO violated several Indian laws in securing some the clearances for the project and bribed the NCAER to produce a report in favor of the project, it is time for a fair minded government to use its power and influence to ask for the company to exit the project.”
Earlier in October 2010, the MZPSG had released a report “Iron and Steal: The POSCO India Story” that revealed that not only had POSCO paid for the positive report from the NCAER but that the figures from the said report that have been widely used to justify the project are grossly exaggerated.
Speaking at the press conference Jinee Lokaneeta from SASI and MZPSG also added “We live in NYC and have very good relations with the Korean community in the city. It is unfortunate that companies such as POSCO and the governments of India and Korea seem more concerned about profits than about the relations between the people of the two countries.”
Amidst shouts of “Democracy in, POSCO Out” and “Land for the People, Not for POSCO,” the demonstrators also said that the protest marks the intensification of an international campaign that has already seen several actions both in the U.S. and in Korea. Murli Natrajan of MZPSG was categorical in stating the group’s goals, “we will not stop till POSCO withdraws. Our next targets are some of the large US based investors in POSCO and a large public education campaign in various US and Canadian cities.”
The group also said that this was their last action till after the new year as they wanted all the officials in the Korean and Indian consulates to use the holiday season to “think about the ethical imperative that puts democracy before profit.”