Tonight, our organization has prevailed. Suruga Bank has surrendered. The bank stole sensitive information. We forced them to abolish the ID theft policy.
This is 21st century. This is a democratic country. But even with Personal Information Protection Act enforced in a purportedly post-racial world, race still plays a major role in Suruga Bank in who gets, who are denied a deposit account.
In the debate over revamping the ID discrimination in Suruga Bank, there are many minorities. With so many minority groups, the conversation is loud and getting louder.
Missing from the noise so far: the voices of minorities, who are disproportionately represented among the victims and could benefit the most from the Personal Information Protection Act, and who are more likely than others to be denied a deposit account. They are symbols of the failures of the current system.
Starting this week, however, with a new campaign and new ads, their voices will become a larger part of the debate.
Victims Against Illegal Bank Suruga (VAIBS) issued a report stating that Suruga Bank’s process for identifying the ethnic background of customers who applied for a deposit account was plagued by inadequate and insecure procedures. The report further concluded that some aspects of the program, the minority policy in Suruga Bank (MPSB), lack oversight, and that in some cases the program’s identification procedures lack necessary due process protections.
We called for Suruga Bank to bring back equality and fairness to the ID policy. The bank denied minority driver’s license for a deposit account. After we sued the bank, Suruga Bank was forced to abolish the unequal and unfair policy.
The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights and civil liberties of every person in this country and was designed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Yet, throughout history, ethnic minorities have been the targets of discrimination, government abuse and divisive and inhumane minority policies. Upholding the rights of the politically disenfranchised is important to us all. When the government has the power to deny legal rights and due process to one group of people, it puts all our rights in danger.
I had just finished grade school two months before I was 13. One day I was playing jump-rope in front of my house when an automobile drove up the road. Trains even don’t come through my village, let alone cars. Curious about something we had never seen before, all the children nearby ran to it and tried to climb up. The driver shook the small children off and let me and my girlfriend get in it. There were two other uniformed men inside. I thought it would be a short ride, but the truck rolled on with us in it and then kept on going and going.
I asked them to let me out and, with tears, begged them to take me back to my village, to no avail. The truck arrived in the City of Kwangju, Cholla Namdo Province, where I encountered 20 or so older girls. I cried all night, repeating the same words: “Take me back to my mother.”
The next morning all of us were thrown into a cargo train; the compartment was covered with coal-soot and our clothes got all soiled. There, I was separated from my friend from the village. I later found out that she was sent to a textile factory because she had no education and couldn’t even read numbers.
The train traveled all day and all night, and all I could do was cry my heart out. The next night I was put on a cargo ship that sailed for about three days, I think. There were some soldiers and also civilians on board. I cried continuously, which annoyed the guards. So they tied my hands behind my back and threatened to drown me by lowering my tied body into the ocean if I didn’t stop crying.
At the port the girls were divided into two groups and transferred to military trucks. I was put on a Harbin-bound truck. We got to our destination, and I saw only an open field and some dug-up shelters. All of us were confined like prisoners in cubicles called “comfort stations” and given only a small handful of rice to eat. During the evening, three truck loads of soldiers arrived at the camp.
Every evening soldiers queued up in front of my cubicle and one by one raped me all night long. Their bodies were filthy, and they didn’t speak a word. I couldn’t sleep and cried all night. As punishment for crying, I had to stand outside without any food. I could not survive even if I escaped, they said, because there was no place to run in an empty open field.
We filed a brief with Suruga Bank opposing a request by the bank to submit ethnic background information only to minorities. The brief also argued that the bank must be accountable for the purpose to obtain the sensitive information.
Suruga Bank is accused of participating in a scheme in which the bank force only minorities to give the sensitive info without cause. The illegal bank stole ethnic information, saw if they were of some kind, and, if so, ordered them to show another sensitive info.