PSPD in English Int. Solidarity 2010-11-12   1999

Open Letter to the South Korean Government on the Deportation of Seven Filipino Activists

FORUM-ASIA writes to South Korea President Lee Myung-Bak register our strong condemnation over the denial of entry and forced repatriation of seven Filipino human rights defenders who came to South Korea to attend the Seoul G20 International People’s Conference.

His Excellency President Lee Myung-Bak               11 November 2010
Sejong-ro No. 1, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-820
Republic of Korea

cc. Mr Lee Kwi-nam, Minister of Justice
      Mr. Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Your Excellency,

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA ) writes to you today to register our strong condemnation over the denial of entry and forced repatriation of seven Filipino human rights defenders who came to South Korea to attend the Seoul G20 International People’s Conference organised by Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action. We note that although all of them were granted South Korean visas prior to travel, but they were prohibited from being admitted to the country for the reason that their names were on a blacklist.

In addition to this, we also learned that a number of human rights defenders from Pakistan, Nepal and Indonesia—who were invited to attend the same conference—were refused visas to South Korea without reasonable grounds.

We would like to assert that the seven Filipinos are well-known activists in the region working on issues of human rights and development. It is particularly ironic that Mr Paul L. Quintos, Policy and Outreach Director for IBON International, had been invited by your government to attend the G20 Civil Dialogue last October. This time however, no explanation was given to them as to why they were blacklisted. We can only conclude that the denial of entry and deportation is an act of repression to curtail potential criticism of the G20 summit.

We are also highly concerned with the reports that the seven were denied access to Philippine embassy officials, physically harassed while in detention, and bodily forced to board a plane back to the Philippines. We deplore this maltreatment by South Korean government officials, which violates the basic rights of the seven Filipinos.

While the initiative of your government being the first Asian country to host the G20 Summit and to include ‘development’ as a new agenda item should be welcomed, the actions of your government in denying activists from developing countries working on development and human rights issues to participate in this important debate are in stark contradiction with the good initiatives of your government.

FORUM-ASIA strongly urges your government to strictly adhere to the respect and protection of human rights in the course of hosting the G20 Summit. The participation and the voice of these human rights and development activists should be encouraged instead of being curtailed by denying their participation. No real development can be achieved without the participation of peoples and the respect for human rights.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Yap Swee Seng 
Executive Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

1. List of Human Rights Defenders denied entry to South Kore and deported back to the Philippines on 6 November 2010. (as of 11 November 2010)

Mr. Jesús Manuel Santiago, Progressive Filipino Singer, Philippines
Mr. Jose Enrique Africa,  IBON International, Philippines
Mr. Joseph Purugganan, Focus on the Global South, Philippines
Mr. Josua Fred Tolentino Mata,  Alliance of Progressive Labour (APL), Philippines
Ms. Maria Lorena Macabuag, Migrant Forum Asia (MFA), Philippines
Mr. Paul L. Quintos, IBON International, Philippines
Mr. Rogelio Maliwat Soluta,  Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Philippines

2. List of Human Rights Defenders whose applications for South Korean visa were rejected. (as of 11 November 2010)

Mr. Abhas Ghimire, LDC Watch, Nepal
Mr. Bernadinus Steni, HUMA (environmental organisation), Indonesia
Mr. Henry Saragh, Indonesian Peasants Confederation, Indonesia
Ms. Khaliq Bushra, Unspecified women’s organisation, Pakistan
Mr. Sarba Raj Khadka, Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Nepal
Mr. Umesh Upadhyaya, Unspecifed Nepalese Labour Union, Nepal

* Open Letter in Forum-Asia

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