Letter to South Korean Government Re: Stop Violence against Ssangyong Workers

LEE MYUNG-BAK

The President

The Republic of Korea

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak (AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura)

Dear Mr. President,

Re: Stop Violence against Ssangyong Workers

I write, in behalf of our entire membership, and in solidarity with the Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network (ATNC), to condemn the brutal police action on the workers at the Ssangyong factory. The APL and the member organizations of the ATNC unequivocally stand in solidarity with the workers and their struggle.

We are aware that since July 16, management and the police have blocked all food from entering the factory. That on July 19, medical doctors and nurses were barred from entering the compound, despite the fact that there are hundreds of workers in need of medical attention after repeated assaults by the police using brutally violent means, even resorting to spraying the strikers with corrosive chemicals.

We are further aware that on July 22, riot police entered the factory compound with court officials and creditors who tried to deliver a forced eviction order. The police surrounded the paint factory where 800 workers are sitting in on the 63rd day of their strike.

We know that over 3,000 riot police and around 30 vehicles including water cannons, ladder trucks and helicopters have been mobilized for this operation.

After news came in that police had started to advance into the compound, we learned that the wife of the KMWU Ssangyong Motors Branch policy director had committed suicide. She was the 28-year old mother of an 8-month old baby and of a 4-year old child. She suffered stress and anxiety from receiving subpoenas and a warrant for her husband’s arrest.

We have reports that indicate that a large number of workers have broken bones, skin problems from the spraying of corrosive chemicals by the police. The lack of food, water and medical help is leading to situation that is not only appalling but in total contravention of all principles of human rights.

Yesterday, we watched in horror the latest assault of hundreds of police commando units that led to dozens of people being injured with at least 23 sent to hospital for treatment.

We hold the government responsible for this brutal and barbaric state of affairs.

The APL, together with the ATNC network demands the immediate halt to police assaults, the access to food, water and medical help to the workers, and to restart negotiations with the unions and management.

We will continue to monitor developments in the current standoff as we vow to remain in solidarity with our fellow workers in the Ssangyong factory.

The APL is a national labor center with 50,000 members nationwide. The ATNC is a network of more than 37 organizations, trade unions and social movements across Asia.

Sincerely,

DANIEL L. EDRALIN

APL Chairperson

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