|From today's Hankyoreh|
Migrant Trade Union leaders arrested for holding demonstrations
|Latest arrest could be the start of sweeping crackdowns on migrant workers|
The Ministry of Justice announced on May 5 that it had arrested two leaders of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrant Trade Union, including its president Torner Rimbu, for organizing demonstrations against the government. The MTU is protesting the arrests, saying that the incident is the beginning of a sweeping roundup of foreign workers.
According to the ministry, the two MTU leaders led demonstrations against government policy. The MTU, with the cooperation of other civic groups, have held demonstrations to demand that all immigrants without visas be given legal status and the employment permit system, which allows companies to hire migrant workers only when Korean citizens cannot be found, be abolished. The ministry announced that it would deport the two MTU leaders, both of whom had overstayed their visas. Torner Rimbu became the MTU president after the group’s former president, Kaji Man, was deported in November.
The ministry formed a task force on May 1 and launched the first crackdown on all migrant workers without visas since the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak in late February. The ministry plans to continue its crackdown for the next three months, and says that it will prevent illegal foreign workers from making inroads into the domestic labor market.
“The target of crackdown is our leaders, the fact that two of our leaders were arrested as soon as the crackdown began proves it,” representatives from the MTU said.
Lee Jeong-won, an MTU official, said that they saw the crackdown coming after the new government began stating that there should be stricter enforcement of the law. The government wanted to remove the MTU leadership ahead of the crackdown on migrant workers, Lee, the MTU official, added.
The MTU also said that dozens of immigration authorities ambushed Rimbu, the MTU president, in order to catch him.