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Sep. 26  2018
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Christian's Photo Column 

South Korean Migrant Worker Union萸 Attractiveness is Strongly Increasing

諛쳂is should be only the beginning. We萸쮍 one thousand, but there萸쮍 more than 200.000 so-called illegal migrant workers in the country

Source  :  BASE21



by Christian / Base21 Media Activists
dvs-b@t-online.de



Remember ETU-MB뭩 (Equality Trade Union Migrants Branch) demonstrations and rallies two month ago: Only with the massive personnel support from South Korean students some 150 or less people gathered to join ETU-MB뭩 protest.

Now, since a little more than one month ETU-MB뭩 work more and more is interesting migrant workers here.

Why it comes like that? Why now? Why not one year before (ETU-MB was founded in 2001)?
One reason: 밡ow all the migrants who are more than 4 years are staying here, they don뭪 have any other choice as to fight Samar Thapa, ETU-MB뭩 chief of Emergency Struggle Committee said, and he completed: 밫hey don뭪 have anything to lose anymore.

But the main reason is, that ETU-MB activists since several month went out of their office and targeted the areas and places where migrant workers are living and working, better let뭩 say slave away. But they don뭪 make only propaganda like distributing leaflets, discussing and informing migrants on a personnel level, they also, very 밶ggressively organized rallies and demonstrations in this areas, mainly industrial zones around Seoul, but also in cities like Daegu (B21 reported on August 26).

The wave of this kind of propaganda work started on August 24 in Ansan, an industrial city South West of South Korean capital Seoul (see also our article 밪outh Korean migrant workers union on the way뀛). During Chuseok, South Korean harvest festival - one of the highest holydays here members of ETU-MB joined the culture festival in Ansan, organized by JCMK (Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea), collected signatures for preparing anti-war rally in Seoul on September 27 and discussed about migrant workers problems with a number of them. Two days later, September 12, ETU-MB organized a Cultural Struggle Festival in front of Ansan station. Even the weather was not really beautiful, it was raining cats and dogs, several hundred migrant workers joined enthusiastically the event, performed by international migrant worker struggle culture group, Nepalese folk dance group, Korean folk music duo and a student group presented revolutionary dances. Of course, beside the event뭩 scene ETU-MB activists by the means of leaflets and personal talks - made propaganda against the implementation of EPS (Employment Permit System, South Korean government call it, cynically, Work Permit System) and how to struggle against it. Here you could see how interested migrant workers are to get real information about EPS and how to get a possibility to defend them self. Especially Chinese migrants are very interested, but also a kind of afraid, because in their home country any political activity, outside of the 밅ommunist Party and the government controlled union, not allowed.

The Cultural Struggle Festival was followed by powerful protest activities in Uijeongbu, an industrial city North East of Seoul. Here, also in front of that city뭩 main subway station, on September 21, a rally, organized by ETU-MB took place. After this, more than 500 migrant workers marched through the city and demanded loud and clearly legalization by work visa and abolishing of EPS. Korean pedestrians got leaflets for information, why migrant workers take the streets of Uijeongbu and many migrants because it was Sunday and therefore they had leisure on their only day off spontaneously joined the demonstration.
September 28 you could see the same procedure in Ilsan, North West of Seoul. Even the police there didn뭪 allow to rally in the center of the city ETU-MB got only a really deserted place behind some poor factories - several hundred migrant workers, but also members of Friends of Asia a Korean group, supporting Migrants and their families joined the event. After that, like in other cities a powerful demonstration through the city took place.

And of course, beside all this activities, ETU-MB participated on the anti-war demonstrations - demanding the end of the ongoing aggression against Iraqi people, the occupation of Palestine and last, but not least 밡o South Korean combat troops to Iraq! like on September 27 and last Saturday here in Seoul.
Last Sunday, October 12, in Seoul ETU-MB and South Korean migrant workers movement was able to celebrate the previous highlight of the struggle against South Korean government migrant policy and exploitation by South Korean capitalists (by the way, they뭨e not better or worse as their 밹olleagues in all other countries). Opposite to the estimated 700, at least 1000, according to the well-known South Korean Internet news magazine Ohmynews, mainly migrant workers gathered in Jongmyo Park downtown Seoul.

ETU-MB actually wanted to demonstrate from Deahak-no to Cheonghwadae the so-called Blue House, the headquarter of South Korean president Roh but Daehak-no was not allowed because of threadbare reasons, some commercial stuff, and Cheonhwadae was out ruled by the police because the estimated 700 participants of the demonstration. 밫here are only rallies with less than 100 people allowed and your rally will be from the beginning an illegal one the police officer said, when ETU-MB announced the demonstration in Seoul Metropolitan Police office.

Anyway, the rally, with very impressive revolutionary songs, performed by Korean workers, powerful speeches by migrant workers, students and activists of KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) was a real great event. One of the undisputed highlights of the rally was the performance of WAW (We Are Warriors, breaking the borders): a traditional song from Bangladesh modified with a song against EPS, and employer arbitrariness and demanding the struggle for a better life. The song was created as a expression dance by Ms Jallal from Bangladesh really great it was.

After the demonstration the masses formed a demonstration headed to nearby Tapgol Park. Even the cops allowed only one traffic line to use for the demo, the protestors took step by step three lines. Short before the end point the riot cops wanted to attack and block the demonstration, but the partizipants, avoiding any real confrontation, took back the street again.

On the final rally in front of Tapgol again speekers denounced governments policy as inhuman and opressive. A Philipino migrant worker from Seoul clear and loud said: 밪outh Korean government try to split migrant workers movement. People, they stay under 4 years here can get a permission to work for at least one more year, but people over 4 years have to leave. But as we know from many friends, they can뭪 devide us! And we뭠l struggle untill we win the government has to know: we뭭e nothing to lose anymore!

Actually this event was a real victory for ETU-MB and South Korean migrant workers movement, but like one comrade from Iran said: 밫his should be only the beginning. We뭨e one thousand, but there뭨e more than 200.000 so-called illegal migrant workers in the country still unorganized. This we뭭e to change!


* Rally and demonstration in Seoul, Oct. 12


* Anti-war demonstration, Oct. 11 in Seoul


* Rally in Ilsan, Sept. 28


* Demonstration in Uijeongbu, Sept. 21



















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