A massive and unlawful crackdown by the Ministry of Justice and police force took place in the Seong-Sang Furniture Factory Complex in Masok (Namyangju City, Gyounggi-Do, Korea) on November 12th, beginning roughly at 9:30am. The crackdown was carried out using over 100 police officers and immigration offices of Seoul, Eujeongbu, and Incheon Airport, large riot police buses and several 35-seat Ministry of Justice vehicles.
The crackdown began with the blocking off of the front and the back gate of the Masok industrial complex with police buses. Immigration officers caught and arrested migrant workers on the street, in the factories, in dormitories and homes, such that more than 100 migrant workers were taken into custody. During the raid, the human rights of migrant workers were severely violated as the officers failed to present proper identification, inflicted verbal and physical abuse and used excessive force including handcuffs, unlawful breaking and entering into homes and factories, and racially-based targeting of migrant workers without checking their passports or visas.
Many migrant workers were injured while trying to flee from the crackdown officers. Among those who were arrested were a young Bangladeshi mother of a four-year-old and a Nepalese male worker, father of an 11-month-old son. In addition, according to a press release from the Ministry of Justice, another raid also took place in a similar manner in the Cheong-San Farm in Yeon-Chon, Gyounggi-Do.
This massive crackdown is putting migrant workers, documented and undocumented, in the state of terror and fear, depriving them of their labor and human rights. The fact that police force was active and present during the immigration crackdown makes us question the willingness from the government to protect the basic human rights of migrant workers. In this state of terror that the crackdown created, many migrant workers are afraid of stepping out of their homes, to the extent that a pregnant Filipina woman with a valid working visa was afraid of going to the hospital.
However, the fact that is that after Lee Myeongbak called for stricter treatment of migrant workers the Ministry of Justice has set quotas for how many people to catch in each region and has carried out a relentless crackdown continuously, even targeted areas where there has been resistance such as Masok. While the crackdown is clearly a violation of human rights it is very unclear how it is in anyway upholding social order or how it is in anyway useful to local residents who live, work and make the economy run together with migrant workers. And it is of course entirely absurd that it brutally arresting 100 migrant works in one swoop is inevitable or has anything to do with their protection.
In the face of this unlawful and violent crackdown, we demand that the government apologize and release all those arrested in the Masok raid. It must be clearly stated that social order is not upheld by trampling on the rights of migrant workers and hunting them like animals.
-- We strongly condemn the barbaric, human-hunting crackdown!
-- Stop the joint crackdown by the Ministry of Justice and police immediately!
-- Make a formal apology and punish those responsible for this unprecedented raid!
-- Release those migrant workers arrested in the raid immediately!
The Migrant Workers Trade Union (MTU)
The MTU is an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)