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South Korean activists call state to reinvestigate death of Myanmar worker

By Wooyoung Lee
South Korean activists call state to reinvestigate death of Myanmar worker
A group of Buddhists and activists seeking to improve human rights protections for illegal migrant workers engages in a bowing ceremony, a Buddhist practice in which participants stretch their entire body out on the ground, in front of Jogye Temple in Seoul on Nov. 19, 2018, in protest over the death of an illegal migrant worker from Myanmar. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A group of South Korean Buddhist monks and activists called for a thorough investigation into the death of a migrant worker from Myanmar and urged the government to halt the raid to find undocumented migrant workers.

The monks of South Korea's largest Buddhist sect Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and advocates of migrant workers' rights marched more than a mile to the presidential office in the capital city of Seoul on Monday.

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They engaged in a slow march while performing the Buddhist bowing of stretching one's entire body out on the ground and touching the forehead, palms, knees, and toes on the ground.

They demanded that the government should reinvestigate the death of a 25-year-old Myanmar migrant worker in August. They said that the worker died after falling off a building structure at a construction site while trying to flee when immigration officials raided the site in search for illegal migrant workers.

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He had been working in South Korea on an employment visa since 2013. The visa, however, expired earlier this year.

After the accident, he was taken to a hospital but soon declared brain dead. He donated his organs to four South Koreans and died in September.

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His coworkers testified that he fell after an enforcement officer grabbed his leg. However, a police investigation concluded that immigration officials were not accountable for the death and closed the case, Kyunghyang Shinmun reported.

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State immigration authorities said they followed a legal procedure in the raid.

"The government should trace an officer responsible for the death and punish in order to prevent deaths of migrant workers in the state raid," Udaya Rai, head of the Migrants' Trade Union, South Korea's first migrant's labor union, as quoted as saying in the Kyunghyang Shinmun report.

According to the union, a total of 10 migrant workers died in such raids by immigration law enforcement officers for the past decade.

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