14 December 2015
HER EXCELLENCY PARK GEUN-HYE
Republic of Korea
Seoul, South Korea
Thru: HIS EXCELLENCY KIM JAE-SHIN
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
Taguig City, Philippines
Dear Madam President:
This is the second letter we are sending you in a span of a few days only – the first was on December 9, when we expressed our utmost concern and displeasure over your government’s sweeping and unwarranted crackdown on South Korea’s organized workers led by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).
We emphasized in our first letter that Sentro – a major national labor center here in the Philippines – is one with the KCTU and the international labor movement in strongly calling for your government to withdraw the proposed labor law “reforms,” end the clampdown against the KCTU and other trade unions, cancel both the existing and planned repressive regulations that suppress human, labor and trade union rights and civil liberties, free all the incarcerated trade unionists and activists, especially those thrown into prisons because of the current crackdown, drop all the charges against them, and fully restore all the democratic rights that were trampled upon since the start of the offensive versus the Korean workers and their supporters.
And now Sentro, along with the labor and social movements throughout the world, would like to convey our most vehement condemnation of the arrest and imprisonment of Bro. Han Sang-gyun, KCTU president. To spare the Jogye monks of “great inconvenience and difficulty” and the desecration of their temple in Seoul – brought about by the siege and eventual forced entry of hundreds of police troopers to nab Bro. Han Sang-gyun, who sought refuge there – he turned himself in to the raiders on December 9, after a 24-day standoff. We are aghast at the brazenness and overkill of your government and security forces in forcefully nabbing Bro. Han Sang-gyun whose only “crime” was standing up for the inalienable and legitimate rights of the workers. His was a peaceful and legal advocacy; he was not an armed and dangerous criminal or terrorist. We are likewise outraged by the police assault as a blatant disrespect for the sacred grounds of the Jogye temple.
We respectfully but firmly urge you, Madam President, to please release from jail Bro. Han Sang-gyun as well as other imprisoned trade unionists and activists as a sign of goodwill and openness to genuinely resolve the brewing conflict there as soon as possible. The world is intently watching you and it will see you in a positive light if your administration will treat the workers and citizens fairly and squarely, and if you will not return the country to the road of either civilian authoritarianism or military dictatorship.