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Posted : 2010-07-20 18:59
Updated : 2010-07-20 18:59

Migrant workers decry crackdown


Michel, the chief of the Migrants’ Trade Union, speaks during a press conference condemning the government’s crackdown on migrant workers, street vendors and the homeless in front of Myeongdong Cathedral, Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times

By Kwon Mee-yoo
Staff reporter

Black balloons bearing messages against the G20 summit scheduled in November were popped in protest by migrant workers, street vendors and homeless people, showing their objection to the government’s recent clampdown before the big international event.

Civic groups against the government’s oppression of human rights of social minorities held a press conference Tuesday in front of Myeongdong Cathedral.

The government said it would clamp down on unregistered foreigners until August as part of its efforts to boost security ahead of the G20 summit. However, migrant workers organizations refuted the idea as it condemned all unregistered international residents as possible terrorists.

Michel from the Philippines, the chief of the Migrants’ Trade Union, said the government should protect minorities such as migrant workers, street vendors and the homeless.

“The Korean government is using the G20 summit as an excuse to attack minorities,” he said. “We want the government to end their oppression. Stop the crackdown!”

Lee Young, executive secretary of the Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea, said the government considers these socially weak people as potential criminals and wants to expel them under the name of the G20 summit.

“If Korea wants to be a real multicultural society, it should provide stronger social safety nets and promote social integration. However, the government encourages social conflict, not unification,” Lee said.

The Homeless Action and the Korea Street Vendors Confederation also opposed the government’s plan.

Afterward, they started campaigning on the streets of Myeong-dong against the crackdown.

A passing citizen who read their brochure said he was too ignorant regarding the G20 summit.

“I didn’t know the government was driving these people out of the country due to the sake of hosting the G20,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why people protested against the G20 in Pittsburgh, PA., last year. But now I understand that the G20 summit has some dark sides as well.”

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