Korean trade union solidarity award for Somyot
Photo: Prakaidao Prueksakasemsuk

The Korean Jeon Tae-il Foundatoin has awarded its trade union solidarity award to former Thailand YCW fulltimer, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk for his long-term support for unions in the Asian region.

Somyot’s daughter, Prakaidao, traveled to Korea this month for the presentation ceremony at Masuk, north of Seoul.

Three hundred people attended the ceremony including a current opposition leader from South Korea’s Justice Party, members of various NGOs, unionists and former lawmakers, the Bangkok Post reports. 
The prize is named after Jeon Tae-il, a 22-year-old worker, who set himself on fire on Nov 13, 1970 to protest against poor working conditions in Korea’s sweatshop factories. His younger brother and sister attended the prize-giving ceremony. Jeon’s death brought public attention to substandard labour conditions and helped set the stage for the Korean labour movement.

Ms Prakaidao said she was touched by the show of solidarity towards her father. “They see how my father has strived for the betterment of workers and joined hands with workers in other countries,
especially here. But some Thais still see only one thing in him — committing a lese majeste offence,” said Ms Prakaidao.

“These people were standing side by side my father in campaigning for regional and international issues long before my father was imprisoned. So it’s quite a great honour to the family — like a big thank-you…. They have also called for the release of other political prisoners in Thailand,” she said. Her father thought about others so much, he didn’t have much time for personal or family matters.
Somyot is currently imprisoned at the Bangkok Remand Prison where he is serving an 11 year sentence for lese majeste for publishing an article that was allegedly insulting to Thailand’s late king.

“Unlike many other lèse majesté suspects who choose to plead guilty to end their trial and have their jail sentence reduced, Somyot has always stood firm and maintained his innocence,” the Prachatai website notes.

Photo: Korean Health and Medical Union