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1995 Prize Recipient Yul Choi Sentenced to One Year in Prison

March 14, 2013

1995 Goldman Prize recipient and President of the Korea Green Foundation, Yul Choi, has received a sentence of one year imprisonment from the Supreme Court of South Korea. The Korea Green Foundation and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement are calling for Mr. Choi’s release, labeling his trial “politically biased, legally unjust and morally corrupt.”

The Korean government of then-President Lee Myongback began investigating Choi in 2008, following his participation in a massive, nation-wide protest against the Four Rivers Restoration Project.

As one of most prominent figures in Korea’s environmental movement, Choi’s sentence is seen by many in the international environmental community as a warning from the Korean government that civil uprisings will not be tolerated.

Mr. Choi won the Goldman Prize in 1995 for leading a successful national campaign to stop the construction of a nuclear waste facility on Korea’s Anmyon Island. He is also credited for establishing South Korea’s first non-governmental organization, the Korean Research Institute of Environmental Problems, in response to widespread pollution caused by rapid industrialization.

A personal message from Mr. Choi appeared in the latest edition of the Korea Green Foundation’s monthly newsletter, in which he stated:

“If being part of the environmental movement makes me guilty, then I gladly agree to my sentence. I leave my true judgment in the hands of the environment itself, which is the court of the future.”

Choi closed with an optimistic farewell:

“I will work on my tolerance and learn how to induce empathy from those who think differently from us. A year is not a long time. I will see you soon.”

The Korea Green Foundation has organized a petition calling for Mr. Choi’s release. To sign the petition, please click here.

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