UE President Congratulates Korean Trade Unionist on Release from Prison

May 23, 2018

UE General President Peter Knowlton sent the following letter today to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Former KCTU President Han Sang-gyun was released from prison this week after being unjustly imprisoned for leading protests against the corrupt government of former President Park Geun-hye.

To our sisters and brothers of the KCTU:

On behalf of the members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, I extend warm wishes to former KCTU President Han Sang-gyun. We are glad to hear that your unconscionable detention in Korean prison has not dampened your resolve to fight for workers’ rights. We wish you great success as you return to organizing workers directly.

At this moment of heightened world attention on the Korean peninsula, President Moon’s decision to release President Han from prison sends a positive message that respect for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are paramount values for engaging in meaningful dialogue, whether that is within the workplace or across international borders. We call on President Moon to amplify this message of dignity by releasing Lee Young-joo, the ex-general secretary of the KCTU, Jang Ok-ki, the president of the Korean Construction Workers Union, and other Korean prisoners of conscience.

UE is committed to respect for workers’ rights and the freedom to organize unions around the world, and we look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship with the KCTU as part of our broader commitment to international worker solidarity. The candlelight movement sparked by President Han has been an inspiration in the ability of working people to hold their government accountable. We fondly anticipate the opportunity to work together soon on new opportunities for worker empowerment.

In solidarity and peace,

Peter Knowlton