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Jun. 20  2018
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Christian's Photo Column 

Concerted Actions of Migrants in Korea is Already a Victory

A massive crackdown on undocumented migrant workers who refused to register to the Justice Ministry is expected in South Korea four after May 25. This is the deadline set by the Ministry for its Voluntary Reporting Program for Unauthorized Foreigners (VRPUF).

Source  :  APMMF

A massive crackdown on undocumented migrant workers who refused to register to the Justice Ministry is expected in South Korea four after May 25. This is the deadline set by the Ministry for its Voluntary Reporting Program for Unauthorized Foreigners (VRPUF).

This is not the first time that Korean authorities have attempted to arrest and deport undocumented foreign workers. Last year alone, the Korean government in June and December initiated two crackdowns. There were many others before these.

This time, however, migrant workers and their advocates staged several protest actions against the (VRPUF). It is expected they will continue this once the crackdown begins. One thousand migrants and advocates held a rally on April 7. This was followed by another rally composed mainly of 150 local workers from the KCTU and other advocates on April 21 after police threatened to arrest any foreign worker from participating in the protest activity. A sit-down strike is also ongoing in Myongdong Cathedral.

These actions are significant as there are a growing number of undocumented workers from different nationalities together with the Equality Trade Union Migrants Branch (ETU-MB) of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which are opposing this latest move by the Korean government. This garnered wide support locally with the establishment of the "Struggle Alliance Opposing the Oppression to Migrant Workers and for Achieving Working Visa?on May 7th. This alliance is composed of 54 organizations coming from Human Rights Groups, Workers Unions, Youth and Student Organizations, the Labor movement, Peoples organizations, NGO's and Religious organizations comprising of Protestants, Catholics and Buddhists.

International support against the VRPUF has also widened. More than 300 individuals and organizations from different parts of the world signed a petition against the VRPUF and impending crackdown. Protest actions were held in Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Canada and others in solidarity with the migrant workers in Korea.

Despite the impending crackdown, migrant workers and their advocates should not despair. They have achieved strong solidarity between migrants of different nationalities and between foreign and local workers. They have also garnered wide support from other sectors both locally and internationally who are outraged at the Korean government for treating them like criminals.

The migrant workers comprise the biggest industrial reserve army of the cheapest and most exploited labor in Korea. Their united and militant actions with the local workers have achieved dignity, which the Korean and even their own governments have denied them.
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