Free Bro. Han Sang-gyun
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings says the global labour movement is united in its campaign to free Bro. Han Sang—Kyun from prison in South Korea after visiting the KCTU President this week.
Speaking outside the Seoul Detention Centre following his meeting with Bro. Han, Jennings said, “This man deserves international support and we promise to give him that support. He is full of vigour, energy and heart. He has not let these authorities weaken his spirit or his drive for justice.”
Han, the leader of South Korea’s eight-hundred-thousand-strong independent union federation, received a five year prison sentence for leading a series of rallies last year. It is the latest heavy-handed move in a brutal clampdown on trade union rights by the government of President Park Geun-hye.
Jennings is in South Korea as part of a united labour movement effort to highlight the plight of trade unionists in the country. Han’s imprisonment is seen as an attempt by the government to quash worker militancy by locking up one of the movement’s most recognised leaders.
“I was very moved by the exchange that has taken place,” Jennings said. “It’s not fair that a human being who is standing up for others, that believes in justice, is paying such a high price because he is trying to help other people enjoy decent work, a better quality of life and to support democracy.”
Earlier Jennings referred to Han during a speech at Korea’s National Assembly in which he also backed South Korean unions in their demand for the abolishment of the government’s performance-based salary system.
“Bro. Han reminded us that in a few weeks there are three major demonstrations taking place in the country,” Jennings said, referring to upcoming strikes by public sector, healthcare and finance workers.
“He wants all workers in those sectors to take to the streets to send the strongest message to President Park and her corrupt regime that the workers are defiant and they will not be turned into slaves. He realizes that what this government is doing is a fundamental attack on the trade union movement and on working people.”