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Open letter to the South Korean government on the deportation of seven Filipino activists

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Open Letter

11 November 2010

His Excellency President Lee Myung-Bak

Cheongwadae
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 rightsdefenders from Pakistan, Nepal and Indonesia‚ÄĒwho were invited to attend¬†the same conference‚ÄĒwere 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 ‚Äėdevelopment‚Äô as a new¬†agenda item should be welcomed, the actions of your government in¬†denying activists from developing countries working on development andhuman 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 anddevelopment 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)

ANNEX

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

#

Name

Organisation

Country

1

Mr. Jes√ļs
Manuel Santiago

Progressive Filipino Singer

Philippines

2

Mr. Jose Enrique Africa

IBON International

Philippines

3

Mr.
Joseph Purug
ganan

Focus on the Global South

Philippines

4

Mr. Josua
Fred Tolentino M
ata

Alliance of Progressive Labour (APL)

Philippines

5

Ms. Maria
Lorena Macabuag

Migrant
Forum Asia (MFA)

Philippines

6

Mr. Paul L. Quintos

IBON International

Philippines

7

Mr. Rogelio Maliwat Soluta

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)

Philippines

2. List of Human Rights Defenders whose applications for South Korean visa
were rejected.

#

Name

Organisation

Country

1

Mr. Bernadinus Steni

HUMA (environmental organisation)

Indonesia

2

Mr. Henry Saragh

Indonesian Peasants Confederation

Indonesia

3

Ms. Khaliq Bushra

Unspecified women’s organisation

Pakistan

4

Mr. Umesh Upadhyaya

Unspecifed Nepalese labour union

Nepal