Today the UAW is pleased that former President Han Sang-gyun of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is finally free. Hundreds of UAW members signed a petition for his release and the UAW International Executive Board called for President Han’s release. While we are pleased that President Han has been released from prison we hope that soon the government of South Korea will recognize it is unacceptable to imprison anyone for exercising free speech, assembly, and association.
As we celebrate this release, we know that our work is not done. Former KCTU General Secretary Lee Young-joo remains in detention for her role in organizing the November 2015 People’s Mass Mobilization and other demonstrations. She awaits a jury trial which begins on June 11, 2018. Korean Construction Workers Union (KCWU) President Jang Ok-ki is also in detention for organizing a massive construction workers’ rights protest.
We call for Lee to be acquitted and Jang to be released.
Exercising the right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate is not a crime and should not be punished with a prison sentence. Once again, the UAW calls on the Government of the Republic of Korea to rescind all sentences and drop all peaceful protest-related charges against trade unionists, including those against General Secretary Lee and President Jang Ok-ki.
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