Korea: Migrants’ Trade Union Leaders Deported

May 18, 2008

The decision took place at the same time as actions protesting the targeted arrest of the two MTU leaders 13 days earlier were taking place in Seoul, Cheongju, Daegu and Busan. On 15 May President Torna and Vice President Sabur were taken from Cheongju Foreigners’ Detention Center and forced to board a plane at Incheon Airport a few hours later. The two were deported from South Korea at roughly 9:30 p.m. and arrived in their home countries the following afternoon after a layover in Bangkok, where they were held in the airport detention center. According to the KCTU, it was expected that the Ministry of Justice would attempt to carry out the deportation at some point. However, it was not expected so soon and definitely not on the 15th. On that day, the South Korean National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had accepted an MTU appeal to stay deportation while the investigation into the human rights violations associated with the arrests of the two proceeded. The Ministry of Justice was informed verbally of this decision, and it is understood that they then rushed to carry out the deportation before they received the formal notice. The ITUC supports the KTCU and its affiliate, MTU, in its condemnation of the use of targeted deportation as a means to deprive migrant workers of their right to freedom of association. The right to form unions is crucial to improve the conditions of migrant workers, and the government of South Korea is using deportation as a means of anti-union repression. All leaders of the MTU since its creation in 2005 have been deported shortly after being officially declared leaders of the union. “Millions of migrants are suffering under inhumane working and living conditions around the world,” declared Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary. “They are workers like any other workers and should be given the right to union membership and representation without the constant fear of deportation or persecution,” he added. International Trade Union Confederation