[Statement] Korea Refugee Rights Network welcomes government-wide measures and special stay permit for Myanmar nationals residing in the Republic of Korea regarding Myanmar military coup d’état. We also demand the Korean government to consistently apply these objective assessments about the risk of persecution to the current refugee policies.

While the casualties are increasing due to the Myanmar military’s violent response to the protests against 21.3.12 Myanmar coup d’état, the Korean government has decided to join the international community’s sanction against the Myanmar military by announcing the series of measures with the cooperation of relevant ministries. Among them, the Ministry of Justice(MOJ) has announced that they would allow the stay of Myanmar nationals residing in the Republic of Korea until the situation stabilizes in Myanmar, through the special stay permit or a postponement of departure on humanitarian grounds.

Throughout Myanmar, citizens including the ethnic minorities 

. We earnestly welcome that the Korean government has prepared additional sanctioning measures, not merely releasing the condemnation statement to stop the illegal, harsh and violent repression of the Myanmar military which denies the democratic election result and is causing numerous civilian casualties. From now on, the MOJ should make up for the insufficient parts of the measures, such as the problems concerning the Korean company’s investment in Myanmar, by gathering the civil society’s opinion.

Especially, we are happy to see the unprecedented event where the MOJ’s measure permits the Myanmar nationals residing in Korea to stay ‘until the situation stabilizes in Myanmar’ using the article about Special Cases on Permission to Stay from Immigration Act. Considering that the grave human rights violations are currently taking place; that the MOJ had never come up with such an active measure about the specific nation’s danger before; and that they have put importance to Myanmar citizen’s life and safety by declaring clear solidarity with Myanmar citizens, this is a significant measure that we passionately welcome. 

This measure is a comprehensive measure taken by the Korean government after assessing Myanmar’s current national situation as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ or ‘grave human rights violations’ and admitting that ‘anyone’ can be in similar danger. This also means that the government has granted a postponement of departure to ‘everyone who has a particular nationality’, similar to the TPS* of the United States. 

Hitherto, the MOJ has never taken such an active action although they could have expected that anyone can suffer from ‘grave human rights violation’ in a nation where the war has been perpetuated including Syria, Yemen, etc. Even though the obvious national situations were checked, they have overlooked these situations and only relied on the Refugee Status Determination(RSD) procedure’s individual judgment by imposing the responsibility to the refugee individuals. This has repatriated somebody to a deadly situation while allowing others to remain, depending on pure luck. 

Korea Refugee Rights Network anticipates that such a forward-looking decision of the MOJ, a decision that involved an objective assessment of other nation’s danger in advance and aimed at preventing the repatriation to the dangerous areas, go through regularization for other countries where grave human rights violations occur. Also, we look forward to the improvement of the general RSD procedure’s quality so that the result of RSD does not vary according to the judge’s values or impression but according to the professional consideration about the objective national situations. Lastly, we look forward to the government’s consistent role to guarantee basic treatments for Myanmar citizens who are allowed to stay in Korea thanks to the special measures and enable them to live a decent human life in Korea.

*TPS(Temporary Protected Status) 

TPS is a system that the US Congress created in 1990, in order to grant temporary residency to nationals of specifically designated countries that are confronting an ongoing armed conflict or environmental disaster. It guarantees basic treatments to the beneficiaries by legally permitting them to find a job and run a business etc. The renewal of its period is decided every 18 months.

Now, the US gives TPS to 12 countries including countries of South America(Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, etc.), Syria, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. Deciding to end the renewal of TPS, the Trump administration has brought on confusion but the Biden administration and Democratic Party are now promoting the passage of a bill that enables TPS beneficiaries to apply for permanent residency if they meet specific qualifications. 

Categories: Statement