Brother Han gathers further support after removal of President Park
On March 10, 8 judges unanimously voted to remove President Park Geun-Hye from the presidency after serving 4 years in the position. Trade union leaders, civil society and politicians called for the release of unjustly incarcerated labour activists.
“The removal of Park Geun-Hye is just the beginning in the fight against corruption – the seeds of hope are now growing in Korea”, stated Kim Hwam-Kyun, President of the NUMW. “We demand the immediate release of imprisoned labour leaders like Han Sang-Gyun and the reinstatement of dismissed journalists who refused to toe the line.”
“The peaceful candlelight vigil revolution has brought a great victory for the people,” said the FKTU. “The new government must move on from the failures of Park Geun-Hye and abolish their malicious labour policies. We expect the new government to respect labour rights, increase the minimum wage and eliminate discriminative practices against non-regular workers.”
The President of KFCLU Lee Yun-Kyung said, “Unions in Korea have suffered under the Park administration – anti-union practices, incarceration of our leaders, under-the-table benefits for corporations and welfare reduction all combined to make our lives difficult. Now, we must work to repeal the incentive system, dismantle the monopoly of big companies and call for the release of labour leaders.”
“This is a great victory for people power”, said UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings. “In October, we saw one of the most dramatic protests in recent years with over 16 million turning out for candlelight vigils around Korea, and sustained social pressure has finally brought dividends.”
Jennings visited Han Sang Gyun at the Seoul detention centre in early September last year.
“We continue to demand the immediate release of Brother Han Sang-Gyun, who was sentenced to an unjust prison term of 3 years last December. Han, along with other union leaders, are being punished for their part in peaceful, democratic protests. The ousting of President Park presents an opportunity to rebuild Korea as a more inclusive nation where human rights are fully respected. The Korean government can send a clear message to the world that they have turned the page by releasing Brother Han.”
In the wake of President Park Geun Hye’s impeachment, Lee Jae-Myung, the presidential candidate from the worker-friendly Democratic Party, even promised to nominate Han Sang-Gyun as the first minister of labour should he be elected.