South Korea: Another Migrant activist arrested

KNOWLEDGE                              STRUGGLE                                   VICTORY
Former President of National Students Federation
Former President of National Students Federation

We, AHRC, PDF, NSF, Mutahida Mazdoor Jamat, Berozgar Naujwan Tehreek and other socio – political activists wish to express our grave shock and concern over the recent arrest of the cultural and human rights activist Minod Moktan.

On October 8 the South Korea Immigration Authorities arrested Minod Moktan, a well-known cultural activist who has fought tirelessly for
the human rights of migrants in South Korea. His arrest is the latest
incident in series of targeted crackdowns against migrant activists, a pattern of repression that has drawn international condemnation. We
urge you to show your solidarity by faxing a message of protest to the
South Korean Ministry of Justice making the following demands:

•    Free Minod Moktan!

•    Stop the crackdown against undocumented migrant workers!

•    Stop the targeted repression against migrant activists!

I. Background of the Arrest

At 10:00am in the morning on October 8, Minod Moktan (38, Nepal) was
arrested by immigration officers in front of the office of Migrant
Television (MWTV), where works as the Director of the Film
Production Team. He is currently imprisoned south of Seoul at Hwaesong
Detention Center and could be deported at any moment.

Although Immigration Authorities claim Minod was arrested in the
course of a normal raid, the manner in which the arrest was carried
out shows this is clearly not the case. The immigration officers had
been waiting in hiding in front of the MWTV office demonstrating that
the arrest was pre-planned. Moreover, normal immigration raids are
made at factories or residential areas where migrant workers are
congregated, making the location of the arrest—the office where
Minod does his cultural and human rights work—highly conspicuous. It
is all too clear that the arrest was made in an attempt to stop
Minod’s activities in defense of the human rights of migrants. What
is worse, Minod’s arrest must be seen as a declaration on the part
of the Lee Myeong-bak administration that it plans to go after all
migrant activists fighting for migrants’ human rights in South

III. Minod’s Work as a Cultural Human Rights Activist

Minod came to South Korea in 1992 and worked for several years as a
manual laborer. During this time he experienced personally the
oppression and discrimination migrant workers face at the hands of the
government, employers and Korean society at large. He became convinced
that cultural work and cross-culture exchange were necessary for
addressing these problems.

In 2003, during a historic sit-down protest against the crackdown on
undocumented migrant workers, Minod founded the first multicultural
migrants’ band in South Korea—“Stop Crackdown Band.” In 2005
Minod also helped to found MWTV, a television station that provides a
‘voice’ to migrants through which to speak about their lives and
experiences. He has served as MWTV’ Co-Representative and Director
of its Film Production Team. He has also produced two documentaries
that look at the lives of migrant workers in South Korea. All of
Minod’s cultural activities have been carried out with the goal of
raising awareness about the discrimination and human rights abuses
faced by migrants in South Korea and creating cross-cultural dialogue
as a means to address these problems. His work is of infinite
important to the movement for migrants’ rights and South Korean
society as a whole.

II. Concentrated Crackdown against Undocumented Migrant Workers

Minod’s arrest comes just as the government has declared a
concentrated crackdown against undocumented migrant workers, which is
scheduled to continue from October to December 20009. In the past,
countless migrant workers have been injured and killed in the course
of such crackdowns, during which immigration officers conduct surprise
raids on factories and residences, breaking down doors and windows and
dragging people out. One of the most shocking incidents occurred last
November, when police blocked of the entrances and exits to an
industrial complex in Maseok and immigration officers ransacked the
factories and houses inside. 130 people were arrested and 10
hospitalized for injuries.

Far from thinking about their human rights, the right-wing
administration Lee Myeong-bak has declared an all-out war on
undocumented migrants. In the first half of 2009 alone the government
has deported 17 thousand people; 32 thousand were deported in 2008.
This is roughly twice the number of people deported during the entire
term of the previous administration, which was by no means friendly
towards migrants.

Like other migrants’ rights activists, Minod recognized the brutal
nature of the crackdown, strongly condemned it and called on the
government to implement a more just and humane policy, including a
program of legalization program.

IV. Pattern of Targeted Crackdown against Migrant Activists

Minod’s arrest is not the first of its kind, but rather the latest
incident in a series of targeted crackdowns against migrant activists
in South Korea. Since 2002, immigration officers have used the cover
of their authority to arrest undocumented migrants to target those
involved in work to defend human and labor rights. The international
community will remember when the government arrested and deported the
president, vice president and general secretary of the Migrants Trade
Union (MTU), a union founded for and by migrants, at the end of 2007
and then did the same thing to the newly elected president and vice
president in May 2008. These arrests were carried out in the same
manner as Minod’s, with immigration officers waiting in hiding in
front of homes and workplaces in order to ambush the activists.

This pattern of target crackdown has become so obvious that it has
induced intervention on the parts of the UN Special Rapporteur on the
Situation of Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the
Human Rights of Migrants and the ILO Committee on Freedom of
. It has also been widely condemned by human rights and
labor organizations around the world.

Not only do we need your help to free Minod, if we do not make a
strong show of force now, the government will take it as license to
continue targeting migrant activists and persist in its crackdown
against undocumented migrants. Please show you rage at the government
and support for our struggle by sending a protest message to the fax
numbers given below.

Your solidarity is more important now than ever.  Please wrire to the concerned authorities below.

Voice your concern to your Foreighn Offices and remained united for the cause.
Please fax a protest letter to the following numbers:


When you do so, please notify us by fax or email at:


If you have any questions you may contact Young-sup Jung at:


From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
Karl Marx

One Response to “South Korea: Another Migrant activist arrested”

  1. Cash 4 Clunkers is Unpatriotic – Darkmesa « The Buzz Says:

    […] South Korea: Another Migrant activist arrested « Faheem Aamer […]

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