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South Korea: Further information on fear of arrest as prisoners of conscience / fear of mass ill-treatment: At least five trade union leaders arrested, 16 others under threat of imminent arrest

, Index number: ASA 25/005/1997

Kim Byung-soo, Oh Hyung-keun, Chu In-sang, Chu Ki-seung and Kim Joong-il: These five provincial leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) were arrested between 11 and 16 January for organizing "illegal" strike action. It is not known whether additional charges of violence against four of them have been substantiated. Mass protests have resulted in outbreaks of violence between demonstrators and riot police. Sixteen other leaders of the KCTU face imminent arrest, seven of whom are currently taking refuge at Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul. They include former prisoners of conscience KCTU President Kwon Young-kil and Vice Presidents Dan Byung-ho and Kim Young-dae. Amnesty International opposes the arrest of trade union leaders solely for organizing the recent strike action and protests, which constitutes a violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association.

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