The Denial of Entry and Repatriation of 6 Filipino Activists is based on Political Bias and a Manifestation of Racism
Progressive international activists who had been granted visas denied entry into South Korea and expelled without explanation.
-Participants to the Seoul International People’s Conference condemned indiscriminately as a dangerous force; exaggerated blacklist.
-Most individuals denied visas or entry progressive activists from Asian or African developing countries.
After turning Paul L. Quintos, the Policy and Outreach Director for IBON International, away at the border, the Ministry of Justice has moved on to deny entry to 5 more people from the Philippines. These individuals, union officers and civil society activists, had arrived at 5:30pm on November 6 in order to participate in the International People’s Conference organized by Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action. As soon as they landed, however, they were told their names were on a list of people prohibited from entering South Korea and immediately expelled without being given a chance to plead their case. All 5 individuals had been granted visas from the South Korean Embassy in the Philippines.
The list of the 5 individuals is as follows:
– Joseph Puruganan, Focus on the Global South
– Josua Fred Tolentino Mata, Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (ALP)
– Rogelio Maliwat Soluta, Secretary General, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)
– Jesus Mannuel Santiago, progressive Filipino singer
– Tatcee Macabuang, Migrant Forum on Asia (MFA)
When looking into the reason Director Paul Quintos was refused entry, the Korean People’s G20 Response Action discovered that the list of individuals prohibited from entry was based, not on concrete evidence of actual threat or histories of dangerous acts, but instead on the goal of preventing participation in civil society events critical of the G20, and that most names were of civil society leaders from developing countries. Without knowing about or even considering the work these people have done in the past, the South Korean government is denouncing them all as impure elements or dangerous individuals. The government is using the need to protect foreign heads of state and national security as an excuse, but in fact, it is misusing the blacklist for the political purposes of preventing activists from developing countries from participating in the Seoul International People’s Conference. This is nothing more than an act of violence–state violence–far more severe than the ‘state of mass protest’ the government has been worrying about.
We want particularly to point out that the individuals turned away at the border had all received South Korean government-issued visas. All had submitted the various documents required, including invitation letters from institutions in South Korea and proof of identification, and gone through the tedious process of applying for and receiving visas. There are many cases where individuals from countries that have agreements of visa exception with South Korea and therefore do not go through such a process are turned way. Putting the names of individuals who have gone through the process to secure visas on a blacklist with out any basis or room for discussion, however, goes against all reason and common sense.
The government’s actions demonstrated a racist bias worthy of severe criticism from the international community. Most of those denied visas or turned away at the border have been civil society leaders from developing countries in Asia or Africa. Of the 5 G20 Summits, the one to take place in Seoul on November 11-12 is the first to be chaired by a country in an Asian, rather than European or North American, country. Yet civil society leaders from Asian countries are being discriminated against and excluded the most during the Seoul Summit. The South Korean government has been claiming that, as the first developing country to host the G20, South Korea will represent the interests of other developing countries, and yet it is refusing to listen to the voices of the peoples of developing counties and ignoring the criticisms of the neoliberal order being put forth by the peoples of the Global South. Even worse, the government is nakedly and shamelessly excluding and repressing these voices.
We cannot hide our deep disgust and anger at the backward attitude and actions of the South Korean government. While the government has been telling the Korean people to be proud of hosting the G20, it has in fact conjured in us a deep shame. The base and irrational actions of the Lee Myung-bak government are greatly tarnishing the image of the Korean in Asia and in the entire international community. To be boasting of South Korea’s position as an international leader and at the same time trampling on the human rights of people from developing countries is self-contradictory and completely deceitful. The fact that the South Korean government has absolutely no right to call itself the chair of the G20 and the representative of developing nations has become clear throughout the world.
The 6 international activists from the Philippines were forced onto a plane and expelled from this so-called “Global Korea” at 9:30pm on the same evening they arrived. The fact that they were deported will not have a noticeable impact on the progress of the G20 Summit. From now on, however, the focus of international society, and especially international civil society, will be on, not the content of the G20 Summit, but the despicable anti-human rights nature of this act. The South Korean government will be denied entry into international society for its racist attitude. It will expelled from the hearts of the South Korean people, whose pride and honor have been greatly damaged by its disgraceful acts.
Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action
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