Petitioning Government of South Korea and World Leaders
Although the Sewol Tragedy Victims' Family Committee has collected almost 4 million signatures for their petition which calls for the enactment of the Sewol Bill, the Korean government still has yet to pass legislation that allows for a thorough and independent investigation into the true cause behind the tragedy that took 304 innocent lives from their families. These grieving families need support from the global community to help them reach their goal of 10 million signatures. The families simply want to know how their loved ones were taken from them, and how they can help create a safer South Korea for its citizens and visitors. You can make a difference by signing here.
What’s the Story?
This past April, the world watched as 304 individuals – most of whom were high school students – helplessly lost their lives inside a sinking ferry. The families of these victims have been asking the same question since the accident: Why was not a single person trapped inside the ferry rescued despite having ample time, resources and opportunities?
Losing a child to a deadly accident is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this nightmare became a reality for the hundreds of parents who lost their children to a preventable accident on April 16, 2014. Even worse, these parents continue to live through this never-ending nightmare due to a series of questionable actions committed by the South Korean government.
Instead of providing adequate support to the families and helping them heal from the trauma of losing their children, the South Korean government – using undercover police authorities – obtained the parents’ social media accounts to place them under illegal surveillance. Members of President Park’s party spread false rumors coloring the families as money-hungry revolutionaries and communists in an attempt to manipulate public sentiment against them. While ten families are still waiting to retrieve the bodies of their lost children, members of President Park’s party have told these families to quit their mourning and move on with their lives. And when the families attempted to take matters into their own hands with peaceful marches, the riot police violently suppressed these families and their supporters by setting up barricades and shooting them with high-pressured water hoses.
The families never asked for any monetary compensation or even medical help. The only thing they have been seeking since Day 1 was the truth – why was a disaster like this even allowed to happen and why weren’t any of their loved ones saved?
The families soon realized that their trust in the tears President Park shed in front of the cameras was in vain. They started a rally demanding special legislation be enacted. The "Sewol Ferry Act," which would involve an independent and thorough investigation of the accident, will serve as groundwork into finally putting an end to disasters caused by the deregulation of safety measures that enables governmental corruption and corporate greed prevalent in South Korea today. It will also serve as a corner stone in building an infrastructure that would prevent future disasters like Sewol.
What the families are asking for only makes sense. What they are asking is not much. But for some reason, the Park Geun-hye administration and majority party refuse to honor this simple request. We can't help but wonder what they are trying to hide?
At the moment, the families are urging the government to enact their proposed version of the “Sewol Ferry Act,” which provides for an independent investigative committee that has the authority to subpoena information it needs and hold people accountable for actions that contributed to the loss of innocent lives. They are arguing that such a panel, without the influence of the Park administration, must be established as it is widely accused of bungling its response to the tragedy and not being forthcoming enough with the facts. This has led to speculation of government complicity and a cover-up.
Despite the fact that over 3.6 million Korean citizens who have signed a petition supporting special legislation, the President and her Party have been ignoring this growing public interest. Many of the victims’ families are now on hunger strikes, hoping their desperate pleas for action would draw the attention of the President and her Party. Like many others, Mr. Kim Yung-oh, who lost his daughter to the accident, is going on his 30th day of hunger strike as of today. He says he is ready to die for this cause.
Who drove these families out on the streets to go on a hunger strike, when they should be grieving and healing from the loss of their loved ones? Yet, President Park and the Korean government are continuing to turn a blind eye. As such, we are mobilizing global citizens to show support for the families and bring change to this outrageous situation.
Why Should You Care?
In today’s global society where close to one million foreigners live in South Korea, of which 120,000 are Americans, a lack of public safety caused by the government's negligence and corrupt practices is a danger to all. In order to ensure a safer society and prevent history from repeating itself, the Sewol Ferry Act must be enacted.
Deregulation of safety measures, which is blamed as one of the causes of the ferry accident, also shows how it can breed government corruption and corporate greed, and as a consequence, lead to tragic deaths of numerous innocent lives. This issue is not unique to Korea, but also applies to the U.S. and other countries. By showing support for the Sewol Ferry Act, it could serve as a warning and a tale of caution for other government leaders.
We cannot let corruption and greed take any more innocent lives. Our fight will continue until the Sewol Ferry Act proposed by the victims’ families is enacted and justice is served to those who deserve it.
The families only wish to know how their loved ones were taken from them and also to create a safer South Korea for its citizens and visitors. You can make a difference by signing here.
To view comments and messages from other supporters please visit the original petition at Change.org