By Kang Shin-who
Police raided the headquarters of the progressive Korea Teachers & Education Worker's Union (KTU), Friday, seizing documents and computer servers in their investigation of anti-government statements issued by the union.
It is the first time that the KTU's headquarters has been raided by police in its 20-year history, according to the union.
The KTU criticized the police for abusing their authority ㅡ under political direction ㅡ and trying to frustrate its plan to make public a list of teachers who signed a second anti-Lee Myung-bak statement this month.
``Police confiscated the list of union members and their contact points, although some of them are not related to the statement. They committed an act of brutality, which never occurred in the past even during authoritarian governments,'' the union said in a statement.
Some 50 policemen searched the headquarters of the union and two other Seoul offices for two hours at 5 a.m., and seized five network servers, directories of the KTU membership along with documents related to the joint statement. Police will summon union leaders after analyzing the seized documents.
The unionized teachers are accused of having violated the Civil Servants' Law by announcing the joint statement denouncing the Lee administration and calling for freedom of expression on June 18, with around 17,000 teachers signing the document. The union currently has about 76,000 members.
The authorities have said they will dismiss or suspend 88 teachers who led the anti-government petition, at the same time they filed complaints with the prosecution against the teachers involved.
The government said that the progressive teachers violated the law that bans teachers from engaging in political activities, but the union claimed that the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression.