Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) Statement on the Korean Troops Re-dispatch to Afghanistan

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) urges South Korea's National Assembly not to pass the bill on troops re-dispatch to Afghanistan

"…And justice will produce lasting peace and security."

(Isaiah32:17)

Peace is what we have longed for. God commands us to have an unbiased view of people who desire to live in peace in a world torn apart by violence and greed. When people and their laws are fair and just, surely peace will grow and bear much fruit. The laws that lawmakers decide on should always take into consideration their impact on the lives of the people.

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) stands for equality and peace as revealed in the Scriptures and believes that God wills for peace in the world. The decision of the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly for troops re-dispatch to Afghanistan on February 19th is being deliberated on the floor of the parliament and is scheduled to be passed on February 25. This comes as a surprise to many. This is more surprising because two years ago the government promised its citizens and the international community to completely withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Therefore we strongly urge the National Assembly not to pass the proposed bill on troops re-dispatch to Afghanistan.

The Korean government is making decisions without considering the wider impact of such decisions as the troops re-dispatch to Afghanistan, which in effect an active participation in the 'War on Terror' carried out by the United States of America for the last nine years. Although many countries have decided to withdraw its support in U.S. led wars, the Korean government intends to send long-term troops that would reach to two and a half years instead of the customary dispatch term of one year.  The key issues including the security of the Afghan people and the damage to the Korean people still remain unsolved. Without resolving those key issues, the decision to re-dispatch troops in the long-term will worsen the image of South Korea in the international community and poses a serious danger to lives and safety of the Korean troops and the Afghan people as well.

The government's justification for re-dispatch of troops is that the troops are non-combatants and would augment the US Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT). We know for a fact that in the context of war rarely the combatants and non-combatants are differentiated. Moreover, there is a difference in definition and perception of Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT); for the US it is a civilian team, while the international and Afghan authorities think that the PRT is part and parcel of the combatant troops. The Korean government is misleading the people, saying that the re-dispatch troops joining the US PRT teams will do purely civilian functions.  

Another valid reason why the National Assembly should not pass the bill on troops re-dispatch is that legislative bills that have grave implications to the security and safety of the people should go through democratic processes including public discussions and investigations of the positive and negative impact of the proposed bill. Genuine democratic process is lost when only the ruling party dominates the parliament without the participation of the opposition parties. We urge the National Assembly not to follow the narrow minded decision of the National Defense Committee on re-dispatch of troops to Afghanistan: the South Korean troops must work for lasting peace in the international community, and the Korean National Assembly must consider the safety issue of its citizens as top priority.

Therefore the government should thoroughly investigate, study very carefully the possible impact of troop re-dispatch to Afghanistan and the National Assembly must at all times employ democratic processes in making decisions and always put the safety of people on top of other interests. We strongly urge that the National Assembly should not pass into law the proposed troop re-dispatch bill.

February 24, 2010

Rev. Bae Tae-Jin
General Secretary
Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)

Rev. Kwon Young-Jong
Co-Chairperson
Peace Community Movement Center

Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)
 Rev. Na Haek-Jip
Co-Chairperson

Peace Community Movement Center

Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)