Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (President Lee Myung-bak). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).
Dear President Lee Myung-bak,
I am very concerned about the sentencing and imprisonment of conscientious objector Jiwahn Ahn, who was sentenced on 17 February 2011 to 18 months imprisonment for his conscientious objection to military service. He joins more than 650 conscientious objectors presently serving prison terms in South Korea.
The previous South Korean government had announced that it would introduce a recognition of the right to conscientious objection into South Korean law. Unfortunately, your government withdrew this announcement on 24 December 2008. However, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea is under the obligation to recognise the right to conscientious objection - it is not a matter of choice.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised in a decision from January 2007 the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR. In fact, in this decision on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007).
You will be aware that about 500 individual complaints of South Korean conscientious objectors are presently pending at the Human Rights Committee. There is no doubt how they will be decided.
I therefore urge you to immediately release Jihwahn Ahn and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors. I urge you to finally recognise the right to conscientious objection.
I urge you to respect human rights.