Journal of Jean Enriquez
I was held at the Seoul immigration upon arrival at 5:05am. After getting my documents and my fingerprints, I was told that they cannot allow me to enter the country today. I asked if I can enter in the future, as I’m concerned of our long-term work, she said she thinks so. I saw another guy brought to detention area. I asked the immigration officer if I will stay where I was seated, she said yes, seeming embarrassed. She informed me that I will be taking the 8:10 am flight to Manila, then appeared to be arranging my flight and calling an escort. Then a young man in black came and asked for my luggage tag and ticket. I asked if they are charging my return home to my ticket, and the woman said yes, as the man hardly speaks English.
I said how could they charge me when they are forcing me to return. She said it’s in their law — immigration law. I asked for a copy, and she cannot say anything. Both looked exasperated with me. She then said I can look it up in the internet. She said I have a return ticket anyway and I’m not going to live in Korea. I said ‘of course I’m not! But because I bought it for a purpose, and I didn’t achieve my purpose, so you should pay for it because you’re denying me entry! It’s you who want me to return now! Why will I pay for your policy?’ They kept shaking their heads. I said ‘that’s total abuse’. She said I can complain with the Korean embassy in the Philippines. I said, ‘shameful!’ I felt that all eyes were on me as I was being escorted out of the office.
The guy brought me to a lounge where waiting passengers are sleeping, but there’s a long desk of immigration officers, only two are awake. I asked for a copy of the repatriation order that I saw on their desk. They adamantly refused. I said it’s my right to have a copy of it. They kept shaking their heads and waving their hands, refusing and dismissing me to go to the benches. They are annoyed with me already.
They continued to refuse to give me my passport despite my insistence. I argued for a long time before boarding the plane going back to Manila. Even when I’m on board the plane, they continue to deny me my passport.
It is most absurd that this despicable government is denying entry to visitors and making us pay for it. How illustrative of its ilk in the G20 who are crafting anti-poor policies and still charge their wrongdoing to the poor. Such arrogance!
I have come to Korea around 8 times speaking on economic and violence against women issues, upon invitation of local civil society groups. I am coming today upon the invitation of Korea Women’s Alliance to the World March of Women, where I am part of the International Committee, to deliver the keynote Speech in the Gender Justice Action Debate. There, the voices of poor and marginalized women are to be aired. I was bringing with me the experiences of the poor and violated women in the Philippines and other parts of Asia, their analysis and alternatives to the failed market-oriented policies of states, the international financial institutions and the self-proclaimed managers of the global economy. I was not the only one denied of a voice. The South Korean government and the G20 it protects, denied voices to millions of poor women and girls, rural and indigenous, victims of sexual violence.
I have been made to feel guilty to gender violence I suffered in the past. The deportees are made to feel guilty now for the violations inflicted on them. I held my head high as I was being escorted and treated like a criminal. I am indignant.
The South Korean government and G20 will be made to account for all its sins.
They can try, but they cannot rob us of our dignity.
World March of Women
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
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