FORWARDED APPEAL (South Korea): Migrant activist arrested 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to support an appeal from the Migrants’ Trade Union in Seoul, about the arbitrary arrest of a migrant worker. The man has been raising awareness through activism and through his singing about issues facing migrant workers in South Korea. Workers who belong to the union are reportedly being targeted by immigration authorities, and the emerging pattern of aggressive repression needs immediate attention. 

For more information, kindly contact Mr. Jung Young-sup at the Committee to Free Minod Moktan.
Fax: +82 2 2285 6068

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Another Migrant Activist Arrested in South Korea!

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!

A sample letter can be found at the end of this email.

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 Workers 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 Korea.

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 Association. 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.

Committee to Free Minod Moktan (unofficial name)

Please show your Solidarity: 

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:

You may draft your own protest letter or use the sample given below

Sample Letter

To the South Korean Ministry of Justice:

We wish to express our grave shock and concern over the recent arrest of the cultural and human rights activist Minod Moktan.

Minod was arrested by immigration officers on October 8 in front of the office of Migrant Workers Television, where he works. The immigration officers were waiting in hiding and ambushed him on his way to work. It is clear by the manner in which this arrest was carried out that this was not a regular immigration procedure but in fact an abuse of state power and act of repression aimed at stopping Minod’s work for migrant’ human rights.

This incident follows the pattern of targeted crackdown against migrant activists carried out in the past, including the arrest of Migrants Trade Union officers in November 2007 and May 2008. This strategy of repression—using the authority to detain and deport undocumented immigrants as a cover for targeting migrant activists—has already been criticized by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders (A/HRC/10/12/Add.1, para. 1526) and the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (GB.304/6, para. 795b) and will not be tolerated by the international community.
We would also like to express our concern over South Korean government intensification of the brutal crackdown against undocumented migrant workers, which has lead to countless injuries, deaths and human rights abuses. It is exactly this type of policy that Minod opposed. We stand with him and others in South Korea in calling for respect for migrants’ rights as workers and people, regardless of their immigration status.

The international community will not stand by while migrant workers’ human rights are violated, nor will it allow the South Korean government to target and arrest more migrant activists.

As such we urgently call on you the meet the following demand:

• Free Minod Moktan!
• Stop the crackdown against undocumented migrant workers!
• Stop the targeted repression against migrant activists!



Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : AHRC-FUA-015-2009
Countries :
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Migrant workers,