POLICE RAID 119 KOREAN TRADE UNION OFFICES – South Korean civil servants union appeals for solidarity action

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The Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) has issued an urgent appeal ‘Solidarity needed! 119 of KGEU local offices forcefully closed down!’

A KGEU statement last weekend, said: ‘What the union members of the KGEU Gyeongnam Jinju Chapter, which had protected the union office from the attacks by the riot police and the authority, faced in the morning of September 28 were much more riot policemen packed up around the building and a ladder truck outside.

‘At 06:10, the union members and solidarity organisations members who held a protest sit-in overnight were forcefully pulled out one by one. Till 07:00, the union office was taken over by the riot police and authority.

‘The same happened to the KGEU Gyeonggi Siheung Chapter and Gwangmyeong Chapter.

‘From the dawn of September 28, the attacks started. It didn’t take more than an hour. Two members from the KGEU Gwangmyeong Chapter were hospitalised.

‘At the same time, the KGEU RDA Chapter was also being attacked.

‘The RDA (Rural Development Administration) is a research institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

‘After the directive on March 22 by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs was issued, the new administrator had broken agreements with the union and refused any negotiations.

‘A peaceful protest rally by the KGEU on May 25 in front of the RDA had been attacked by the riot police and hundreds of the union members had been arrested.

‘On September 8, the 7 leaders of the KGEU RDA Chapter were dismissed.

‘Prior to the ILO Asia Regional Meeting in Busan, Korea, the ICFTU, TUAC and GUFs joint mission had taken place from August 24 to 26.

‘The mission had visited several work sites including the KGEU RDA Chapter.

‘As usual, at 06:00 the riot police were deployed and the specially hired thugs and the security guards of the RDA broke into the union office.

‘They used a power saw to break the doors. In 30 minutes, the union members were forcefully pulled out of the union office and thrown away outside the RDA.

‘The only province where the wave of the attacks on the KGEU local offices is not pouring down yet is Gangwon-do province. But it is very much likely to happen in a couple of days.

‘On September 29, the first attack on a KGEU local office in Hwacheon-gun county in Gangwon-do started at 15:00.

‘At first, the execution officials from the municipality tried to forcefully close down the union office in vain. The riot police were deployed and a mobile crane excavator was mobilised.

‘Air mats were set up around the county hall. At 16:15, the second wave for the forceful closure started.

‘The 4th floor of the county hall where the union office is located was full of the riot police. As soon as the riot police started to attack, the electricity was cut off.

‘In an hour, the first barricade that the members from the KGEU and the solidarity organisations such as the KCTU, the Korean Peasant League and the Democratic Labor Party, set up in front of the union office was broken down by the riot police.

‘But they couldn’t advance any more for the next four hours. At last the riot police were pulled back at 21:20 and a meeting between the governor of the Hwacheon-gun and the KGEU Hwacheon Chapter was agreed to be held on October 2.

‘Other KGEU chapters in Gangwon-do are also expected to face attacks for the forceful closure of the union offices quite soon.

‘In the morning of September 29, the association of human rights organisations in Korea held a press conference in front of the National Human Rights Commission.

‘The human rights activists group claimed that the government repression on KGEU including forceful closure of the KGEU local offices nation wide is a serious violation of human rights and that the National Human Rights Commission should promptly intervene in the government repression to stop it.

‘The group consists of 38 human rights organisations such as Lawyers for Democratic Society, Solidarity Group for Peace and Human Rights, KHIS and SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights.

‘On September 29 as well, 12 KGEU members with others from the Professors’ Union and the University Workers’ Union were arrested during a public hearing on corporatisation of national universities.

‘The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has been trying to enforce corporatisation of national universities in Korea in the name of autonomy and effectiveness.

‘The unions and the student associations consider it as a first step towards privatisation and introduction of neo-liberal policies into university education and strongly oppose it.

‘The public hearing on corporatisation of national universities was organised by the Ministry and most of the main speakers were supporting corporatisation.

‘The unions protested at this unilateral public hearing and demanded to stop it. But the protesters were pulled out and around 50 union members and students were arrested.

‘The arrestees include a KGEU vice president, Ms LEE Mal Suk, and Sohi, the external relations director of the KGEU and another ten members from KGEU Educational Administrative Organs Branch. They were released around 17:30 on September 30.

‘Your solidarity is needed!

‘The crack down of the KGEU offices nationwide has still continued since September 22, 2006. 119 local offices were forcefully closed down nationwide as of September 28, 2006.

‘Every working day has seen the violent attacks on the union offices and the arrests of the union members since last Friday. The riot police and the specially hired thugs have raided union offices from dawn till midnight.

‘Many KGEU offices were violently broken into and closed down.

‘Riot police and thugs armed with fire extinguishers, fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers, hammer drills and power saws broke through the windows or even by making an opening in the wall to storm into union offices.

‘KGEU members were forcefully pulled out of the union offices and arrested. The union offices were sealed off with iron plates or bars in many cases.

‘KGEU members struggle all around the country against inhumane and barbaric raids by local governments and riot police.

‘It is a war between a democratic and independent trade union and an authoritarian and barbaric government. It is a war between those who believe in freedom of association for all workers and those who believe that trade union rights could be subject to government rulings.

‘We need your solidarity now!

‘Please send your solidarity message to the KGEU! It will greatly encourage and empower our members in this critical moment. It will let our members know we are not alone.

‘Please send your protest letter to the Korean government! Let them know that the world is witnessing and that this brutal repression can not be accepted.’

KGEU (Korean

Government Employees’ Union)

7th F1. Daeyoung Bldg. 139 Youngdeungpo-2-ga. Youngdeungpo-gu.