Court overrules denial of asylum to Myanmar activist
Published : 2013-02-11 20:40
Updated : 2013-02-11 20:40
A Seoul appellant court ruled Saturday that the government should grant refugee status to a Myanmarese applicant who campaigned against his government in Korea.
It upheld a lower court ruling that the Justice Ministry made an inappropriate decision in 2011 when it rejected his application for asylum though he could face political persecution back home.
“He did not leave his nation due to fears of persecution, but it is justifiable to accept his application for refugee status if he faces fears of persecution after protesting against his government in a foreign nation,” the court explained in its verdict.
The court added that it took into consideration his frequent participation in rallies against his government in front of the Myanmarese Embassy in Seoul and the possibility of heavy punishment that could be imposed on him upon return to Myanmar.
The 48-year-old plaintiff is a member of the minor ethnic minority group of Karen which comprises 7 percent of Myamar’s population of 50 million.
He first arrived in Korea in 2004 and set up a Korea branch of the Karen Youth Organization which ran campaigns calling for democratization of Myanmar.
He applied for refugee status in 2011. The Ministry of Justice rejected it and he filed a lawsuit against the justice minister.
Last year 1,143 people sought refugee status, the highest number since Korea joined the U.N. convention relating to the status of refugees in 1993.
As of last year, 320 refuge seekers were given the official status, including 130 of the total 270 Burmese applicants, the largest number granted refuge status, followed by 65 Bangladeshi and 27 Congolese people.
More than 30 Burmese sought refugee status last year.