Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another Migrant Leader Arrested

Another migrant worker activist was just arrested. This follows on the occupation of the National Human Rights Commission by the Migrant's Trade Union in protest of the continued detention of their chief officer Anwar Hossain. Most of the members of the MTU are undocumented migrants whom have been protesting the Korean government's policies towards migrant workers, which they see as the maintainence of a labour migration system that encourages illegality.

Here's the story from's labour news network.

Another MTU Leader Arrested

At about 8:30pm, Radhika, a key leader in the Migrants’ Trade Union in Korea was arrested in a crackdown at Uijeongbu Station. Rhadika was traveling to Uijeongbu to help a friend obtain a job. Rhadika is the main organizer of female migrant workers in Korea and has been involved in the struggle for migrants rights for several years. Last year, she participated in the sit-in struggle at Myeong Dong Cathedral and went on a 30 day hunger strike to oppose the implementation of Korea’s regressive and racist immigration law, EPS (Employment Permit System). It is too early to know which detention center she will be taken to, so please stay tuned for updates and be ready to take action for Rhadika!

To add a further comment, in the short time that I've known the MTU and their predessor the ETU-MB, virtually all their key activists have been detained or deported. Hence, this news is not surprising. Thankfully, whenever a key organizer is detained another politicized migrant tends to fill his or her shoes.


  1. Days 6 and 7of KNHRC Occupation
    Today is day 6 of the occupation of the KNHRC and the 57th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This morning at about 10 am, the Korean government held ceremonies to commemorate the anniversary. In the ceremonies, the Minister of Justice, Chan Cheon Bae, gave awards to organizations and individuals who promote human rights for all. As part of their cultural program, they also had migrant workers sing traditional songs from their home countries and participate in the ceremonies. In order to point out their hypocrisy, MTU members and some 60 supporters joined the ceremony to protest the the KNHRC's decision to support the Immigration Department's unlawful detention of Anwar Hossain, MTU's president, the crackdown on undocumented migrant workers, the recent arrest of yet another MTU leader, and the Korean government's unwillingness to grant basic working rights to migrant workers. One demonstrator was ejected peaceably from the ceremony for shouting, "Stop Crackdown!" The other protesters held signs reading, "Stop ignoring migrant workers!" and "Recognize Migrant Workers' Rights!" We were expecting tighter security and more big wigs to be there so we were prepared for a fight, but we didn't have to have one.

    Radhika, the leader who got arrested on Thursday in Uijeongbu, is still in Mokdong. It looks like she'll be there until the 14th or 15th, but she really wants to go home. She said that being a female detainee is really humiliating. They have cameras in their rooms, the bathrooms, everywhere so they have absolutely no privacy. It sounds like she is having a really awful time.

    Last night we went to a program at Hanyang University that was organized by(or maybe for?) the mothers of martyrs from the dictatorship era. This program was mainly entertainment, but at the end, we got to give a really quick little speech explaining who we are and what the demands are. I say "we" because I was paraded up on stage with the real migrant workers. It was good exposure for MTU because there were a couple of thousand people there, but it wasn't anything "action" oriented. I rarely know what we are going to do ahead of time- I just follow along and do what I'm told. It's still really difficult to get questions answered.

    I spent my first night in the office last night. The nights here are packed with people and during the day there are constantly people coming and going. It's nearly impossible to sleep at night because of all of the meetings that can't happen during the day, so folks are looking a little tired and catching naps whenever and wherever they can. Still, everyone seems to be holding up well. Spirits are high even though it is sometimes very tense and the Korean government seems to be getting a little nervous about how much press we are generating. We were on KBS two or three separate times yesterday- first the protest at the human rights celebration. followed by a really long piece on Radhika getting deported and then a third really emotional piece about two men from Bangladesh who lost fingers in industrial accidents here and can't go back home for the shame of no longer being able to provide for their families. It was a good media day even if 2/3 of the reasons for being on the news really sucked.

  2. Thanks for your excellent update devon. Things sound pretty tough at the moment. If you have time, please think about writing a story about what has happened to the MTU in the last few weeks. It would be very valuable to have an account of what has been going on. Email us through the blog and we can talk about it and help you find a venue for it. Please keep us up to date.