Tight security for G20 Summit to deepen woes for minorities

08-03-2010

With 100 days to go before the G20 Summit in Seoul, the National Police Agency said Tuesday more than 400,000 policemen will be mobilized around the event’s main venues to ensure security.

Tight security measures will be taken at all summit-related venues, including conference rooms, hotels and roads through which leaders from the world’s 20 biggest economies will pass through, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

But human rights advocates warn that such measures put many underprivileged people and immigrants at risk of losing their space to make a living, planting a seed of social unrest.

“The most-affected people are street vendors, the homeless and migrant workers,” said Lee Young, a human rights activist. “The government is risking the well-being of a great number of poor citizens in order to form ideal conditions to host a meeting for a small number of leaders.”

The Ministry of Justice, police and other government offices have teamed up for months to “wipe out” unauthorized street vendors and homeless people spotted around meeting venues in central and southern Seoul.

At the same time, they have launched large-scale crackdowns on unregistered migrant workers nationwide, deporting many confirmed to have lived here with expired visas.

“These actions clearly show that the government views immigrants and poor citizens as people who can challenge the security of the meeting at any time,” Lee said.

To protest the crackdown, unionized migrant workers have issued statements and staged rallies in central Seoul.

During a recent rally in front of Myeongdong Cathedral in downtown Seoul, Michel from the Philippines, the chief of the Migrants’ Trade Union, condemned the ongoing crackdown, saying, “The Korean government is using the G20 Summit as an excuse to trouble minorities. We want the government to end their oppressive behavior. End the crackdown!”

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