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Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004 at 8:44 AM
Today exactly since 100 days migrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia are staging a sit-in struggle in the South Korean capital Seoul.
29933iju2.jpg, image/jpeg, 500x351
Day and night even when it we had freezing temperatures, minus 18 degree (Celsius) were this Winter was no rarity, we, now 66 migrant workers sleeping, eating and studying beside the steps leading to Myeong-dong Cathedral in the heart of Seoul. By using this means we are protesting against the South Korean government’s policy of manhunt and mass deportation, will affect more than 100.000 “undocumented” migrant workers. During the process of manhunt merciless carried out by infamous immigration officers at least 8 migrant workers committed suicide other died while hiding in the mountains or containers without heating.
While the majority of the migrants here refuse the “voluntarily self deportation” by just hiding and waiting we, Myeong-dong Sit-in Struggle Collective (MSSC) are resisting actively by organizing rallies and demonstrations, struggle culture festivals and participating in the South Korean class struggle. This made us to the enemy no 1 for the South Korean government. So they try to attack and arrest us when ever and where ever they get possibility. In the past the infamous riot cops just blocked us and gave so the chance for the immigration officers “to do their job” during this kind of attack we lost on Jan 7 two comrades. But since one week the riot cops are an active part of the crackdown policy. Last Tuesday during the last attack against us – we protested in front of Seoul Immigration Office against the abduction of the president of our union KCTU/ETU-MB (Korean Confederation of Trade Union/Equality Trade Union) two days before on Feb 15. Only because of the massive and active solidarity we got from Korean workers and students, 200 riot cops and at least one hundred immigration officers were able to get only one of our comrades. But of course even one loss is one too much! Here one article about our last activities.
Yesterday’s migrant workers demonstration in Seoul – a victory on the whole line (we thought in the beginning, but read until the end of the article…).
At first we expected a total disaster – too less demonstrators, too many cops. And in fact the riot cops were ready to attack and arrest us. When some of us arrived in Daehak-no, downtown Seoul, of course we were very early there, to check out the area and the security situation, we had to learn, that the cops – at least 1000 were on the spot – prepared for the worst case. Everything what you need to oppress a struggle they had: prisoner transporters, ambulance cars… And yesterday they only brought the “elite” of the riot cops – all units from number 1000 until 1013 and some other more, like 1035.
After we had to see this large force and compared this with the information we get before, that the government had announced that they want today arrest all MSSC (Myeong-dong Sit-in Struggle Collective) members – we just said “It’s enough to make you feel sick!” And later after the beginning of our rally, before there was a rally organized by students to support the struggle of irregular workers (of course we joined too), we saw over a long time only few people arriving. So maybe you can imagine that we were not in the best mood, we just worried about our near future.
But after bus by bus, full with migrant workers from Ansan, Uijeongbu, Maseok, Incheon…, arrived, everything was in a brighter light and we started to hope that we could survive this day.
After all around 700 migrant workers, beside 300 Koreans, mainly students, from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Myanmar, Indonesia and even Koreans from China joined our struggle rally. On the rally we presented an impressive cultural program, opened by Stop Crackdown Band, and several strong and powerful speeches were held.
After the rally we marched from Daehak-no to nearby Jongmyo Park were the final rally were held. Even we were accompanied by many units of combat cops, the situation got more relaxed. And even the rally was not finished the cops gave up and the main forces just left the scene.
After all fortunately we survived this, in the beginning terrible but on the end great day!
But it is not only luck that we got so much solidarity - and just because of the massive solidarity from migrant workers and Koreans we were able to survive, because if we had only few supporters today, 100 per cent they would catch us today – above all, these are the fruits of our efforts to organize migrant workers struggle! This shows us the way we have to follow to get on the end possibly a victory!
And, by the way, another good news: in Hwaseong detention center now, beside K.B. and Haq 17 migrant workers are in hunger strike (h.s.). Remember: yesterday 6 were in h.s., before yesterday four and the day before just two. Do you can imagine what will be happen at the end of this week?
And this you’ll find today in South Korean newspapers
The government said yesterday it would start cracking down as of today on illegal migrant laborers who participate in unlawful rallies and refuse to leave the country.
The number of illegal foreign workers leaving the country voluntarily has dwindled since the first crackdown in September as the search has eased up, the Justice Ministry said.
The voluntary expulsion period ends this month. The deadline was extended last month due to strong protests.
The ministry will deal more sternly with those who participate in illegal rallies and protests opposing the expulsion of aliens, it said.
The Justice Ministry announced yesterday a campaign to round up and deport illegal foreign workers.
The ministry had given those workers until Feb. 28 to leave the country voluntarily. Those who comply would be allowed to return to Korea in August, when a new employment permit system goes into effect. Beginning March 1, the ministry said, it would join with police and immigration officials to round up those who had refused to leave.
"We extended the term for illegal workers to voluntarily leave Korea due to requests by civic groups, but instead of using that time to prepare for departure, the workers began participating in rallies and demonstrations, refusing to leave the country," said Lee Min-hee, an immigration official.
Seoul has extended the deadline for departure several times.
The government will launch a massive crackdown from Monday against illegal foreign workers who are refusing to leave the country. Migrant workers who launch movements to defy the government-imposed deadline, which is set for the end of this month, will be rounded up and forced out of the country, the Justice Ministry said on Sunday. Officials said the move is intended to maintain law and order after a rising number of foreign workers announced their refusal to follow the government’s deportation policy of illegal foreign workers. Those who do not comply with government orders and take part in illegal rallies or protests with civic groups will be detained and forced to leave, officials said. (Korea Times)
And here our beloved CHOSUN ILBO:
The Ministry of Justice said Sunday that it will decide on its policies to arrest and deport all illegal foreign workers who participate in illegal gatherings and demonstrations and those refusing to voluntarily leave the country, and will begin concentrated crackdown efforts starting from Monday.
Actually all together sounds not so good, not really!
And here finally the movie about the attack against us last Tuesday:
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Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004 at 8:44 AM
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