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CUPE national leaders sent the following letter to the president of South Korea and the police commissioner on Aug. 7, 2008.

About 10 days ago, the South Korean government issued arrest warrants for the leaders of the country’s trade union movement. Among those named were the top leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), as well as leaders of affiliated unions.

The KCTU vice-president was arrested by police and she is now being held at the Youngdeungpo Police Station. The others are still at large. Police have encircled the union headquarters in Seoul.

The ‘crime’ these union leaders are accused of committing is that they called for a general strike in early July. The South Korean government, in defiance of universally recognized human rights standards (including ILO conventions), decided that the strike was illegal.

We urge you to immediately stop the repression against the KCTU and its affiliates, release the detainees and call off arrest warrants.  And we call on your government to respect fundamental trade union rights, including the right to strike.

We further call on you to fully implement the recommendations of the International Labour Organization Committee on Freedom of Association and guarantee freedom of assembly and the people’s right to dissent.

We are also urging our 570,000 members to send a message of protest to the following address: http://www.labourstart.org/kctu .