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180523Korea _release _HERO

Korea: Release of Han Sang-gyun is only the beginning

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) welcomes the release of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) president Han Sang-gyun, however the Korean government must not stop here, and commit to freeing other political prisoners.

The ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said: "I congratulate the KCTU for winning justice for their president. Everybody could see that the imprisonment of president Han was a political act, an attack on the whole labour movement in Korea, it was a wrong that had to be righted.

"We congratulate president Moon and his government for addressing this case of injustice but this is only the beginning. President Moon must now release former KCTU general secretary Lee Young-joo and all other prisoners of conscience to prove that his government is truly a 'government of candlelight'. Every day president Han was in prison was a day too long, and every worker and political prisoner still locked-up is one prisoner too many."

The ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: "This is great news for Han Sang-gyun, this is great news for the KCTU, and most of it all this is great news for the people of Korea. President Han is a tireless campaigner for social equality and labour rights, and he will fight for every Korean to win good jobs, good conditions and good pay, which is nothing more than they deserve.

"Well done to president Moon for undoing the crime of his predecessor, now he needs to work closely with the KCTU to make things better for all Koreans, and release all prisoners of conscience immediately.

"Finally, congratulations to the ITF unions around the world who put international pressure on the Korean government, they need to keep this up and support the continuing struggle of our sisters and brothers at the KCTU."

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Stephen Cotton and Paddy Crumlin on a solidarity visit to Korea, July 2016.