Published : 2010-03-30 17:22
Updated : 2010-03-30 17:22
Police yesterday raided offices of a teachers` union to investigate its recent issuance of an antigovernment statement, which violated the law banning its collective and political activities.
The Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union issued the statement on June 18 with 17,169 teachers signing. The government filed complaints with the prosecution demanding investigation into about 40 teachers who led the campaign.
Investigators searched its headquarters and branch office in Seoul for two hours from 5 a.m. and seized hard drives and documents.
Union officials protested the investigation. They said it was "politically motivated" and aimed at thwarting their plan to issue another statement later this month.
"(The police raid) appears to be intended to frustrate a planned statement which the teachers have been preparing to safeguard democracy," said a union spokesman in a press conference.
After examining seized material, the police plan to summon key union members, including union chief Jeong Jin-hoo, as early as next week.
The KTEU statement berated the Lee Myung-bak administration for oppressing democracy and criticized its educational policies for driving students into cutthroat competition for tests in the expense of sound education and skyrocketing private education costs.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has taken a tough line, declaring the issuance as a clear breach of law banning their collective action and political activities.
The ministry said last month it will reprimand 88 teachers and referred 41 of them to the prosecution.
The union were following professors, religious leaders, lawyers, writers, activists and students in a nationwide manifesto campaign protesting alleged government repression of democracy and civil liberties.
Conservatives in politics, academia and the media have struck back with statements of their own, arguing that "leftists" were damaging national unity and stability at a time the nation faces economic, security and political crises.
By Song Sang-ho