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[Editorial] Rethinking the Democratic Movement

Posted October. 29, 2005 03:14,   


With “five dismissal” to “four unconstitutional” votes, the Constitutional Court declared that the decision of the Commission on Compensation for the Democracy Movement on the Dong-eui University incident that killed seven police officers was constitutional.

However, the ruling of the court does not indicate its position on whether the incident was part of the democratic movement. Before making a judgment on whether it was a democratic movement, the court said that it feels the petition did not fulfill the requirements because the “bereaved family members cannot be considered the ones whose right to decency or dignity was directly violated by the decision.”

The four judges who handed down “unconstitutional” votes stated that the case constituted a petition because “as family members of a policeman who died on duty while enforcing the law for the state, the bereaved family had their pride and social reputation damaged.”

In addition, regarding the Dong-eui University incident, the court stated, “It was a challenge to liberal democracy and the rule of law to kill seven police officers by using a bottle grenade and oil in a closed building against the policemen who tried to rescue their colleagues who had been illegally kidnapped and incarcerated.” It concluded, “Although for democratic ends, the unacceptable means of violence used to fulfill them cannot be considered a democratic movement.”

Taking the court’s minority and majority opinions altogether, had the requirements for a petition been not an issue, the decision of a “democratic movement” would probably have been declared unconstitutional. The minority opinion is well expressed in the statement, “We are opposed because we cannot neglect a ruling that goes against basic democratic order and the spirit of the rule of law.”

The majority opinion that used a strict interpretation of the law to judge the petition may be right in terms of jurisprudence, but the minority said that the “judgment that the Commission’s decision that the Dong-eui University incident was a democratic movement was wrong,” and that the majority ruling would become a part of the nation`s history.

Keeping the Constitutional Court’s ruling in mind, the commission must refrain from admitting the behaviors that are not in line with the basic order of free democracy and the spirit and value of the rule of law as a democratic movement. If the spies who acted to bring down the liberal democratic system or those who tied up the innocent wife of a labor union leader during the Sabug incident and carried out their private punishments are democratic advocates, this will undermine the spirit of the true democratic movement.