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Issue #1740      July 20, 2016

CPA calls for release of Han Sang-Gyun

On Monday July 4 the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Han Sang-Gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to five years in jail.

CPA WA Branch showing support for the release of Han Sang-Gyun.

The sentence has outraged trade unions around the world who are demanding his release from the South Korean government.

The charges on 585 KCTU leaders and individual members were laid after a trade union campaign against draconian labour laws in November 2015. During the peaceful demonstrations, the South Korean militarised police used water cannons and tear gas against one hundred thousand demonstrators.

Currently 20 trade unionists are in prison and some others are defending charges. Fifteen Tower Crane operators affiliated to the Korean Construction Union were charged with blackmail over legitimate negotiations for a collective agreement. Those crane operators were sentenced from 8 months to 3 year prison terms.

The South Korean government is using repressive laws and dictating the silence of workers and people in general who have exercised their democratic right to protest. There is a crackdown on civil and democratic rights in the country. The Korean government must drop all charges and release all the political prisoners like Han Sang-Gyun who have committed no crime but only exercised their democratic right to protest in defence of democracy and for better wages and conditions.

The KCTU is one of the most militant trade union organisations in Korea, marking them as a target for a government bent on trying to destroy the Trade Union Confederation. Similarly here in Australia the militant unions like the CFMEU and MUA face similar unprecedented attacks. The trade union movement in Australia also fights for the right to organise and collective bargaining against the same possibility of being treated like criminals; prosecuted and fined. The returned Turnbull government aims to pass even more fascist-like laws with the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. These draconian laws impose heavy fines or jail sentences on individual workers and their unions.

The Communist Party of Australia sends a message of solidarity with the KCTU in its struggle against draconian labour laws and for democratic and civil rights in South Korea. The CPA joins the international campaign for the freedom of KCTU President Han Sang-Gyun.

We call on the Korean government to release Han Sang-Gyun and all the other trade unionists charged and jailed in their struggle for workers rights.

Next article – Union rights – The battle ahead

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