Demanding Compensation and an End to Immigration Raids

Protest statement concerning the death of a Vietnamese worker Trinh Cong Quan as a result of an immigration raid in South Korea.


On November 3, Trinh Cong Quan, a 35-year-old Vietnamese worker, tragically lost his life. His death was the result of the South Korean government's vicious crackdown on undocumented migrants. On October 29, immigration officers raided the factory where T was working in the Gasan district of Seoul. They entered the factory by surprise without presenting a warrant and Quan found himself trapped. With other pathways blocked, he tried to escape through a window and fell to his death.

Since his arrival in South Korea in 2002, Quan had worked diligently at small-scale factories. Only a little while ago he fell in love and began a family. He and his wife had a child who is now 4-months old. This newly born child has lost his father, and yet the South Korean government refuses to take responsibility.


The Ministry of Justice has stated that because there was no physical contact between Quan and the immigration officers, it is not at fault for his death. Similarly, the Seoul Immigration Service has made no official statement of apology and has not taken steps to compensate the family for their loss.


Sadly, the manner in which the raid on October 29 was carried out, with no due process or precautionary measures, was typical for South Korea. Immigration officers routinely chase down migrant workers without presenting warrants or giving prior notification. This is not the first time a worker has died or been injured in a raid. The cases are too numerous to count. Only a few weeks ago, another Vietnamese worker was indiscriminantly beaten after being caught by immigration officials. These facts demonstrate the racist and inhumane attitude of public officials towards migrant workers. Such attitudes have led to and are reproduced by South Korea's immigration law, which does not require the presentation of warrants or adequate safety procedures during raids and which contains no policy for dealing with undocumented migration other than indiscriminate crackdowns.


We wish to emphasize that the problem of undocumented migration cannot be solved though immigration raids. Undocumented migration arises from the lack of good jobs in home countries and the lack of sufficient legal pathways to enter and work in destination countries.


Undocumented migrant workers are not criminals, nor are the obstacle to the successful holding of the G20 Summit. Nonetheless, the government has been using the G20 as an excuse to intensify the immigration crackdown. We cannot help but believe that Quan's death is directly connected to this increased repression ahead of the G20 Summit. While the government believes the G20 Summit with enhance South Korea's international reputation, it is quickly falling far behind concerning international human rights standards.


We will not stand by while innocent people are abused and murdered simply because they do not have visas. We express our solidarity for migrant workers and their supporters in South Korea who struggling to win respect for their rights. Together with them, we make the following demands on the South Korean government:


1. We demand that the South Korean Ministry of Justice and the Seoul Immigration Service take moral and legal responsibility for Quan's death.


2. We demand a full investigation of the non-warranted invasion and improper safety procedures that lead to his death, and that those responsible are punished.


3. We demand that Quan's bereaved family be given proper emotional and financial compensation.


4. We demand that Ministry of Justice stop using the G20 Summit as an excuse to repress migrant workers and stop the crackdown immediately.