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[EDITORIALS]Demonstration Crackdown Needed

June 03,2001
Large-scale rallies and demonstrations in Seoul are turning more violent as time passes. Recenth, demonstrators attempted breaking into the National Police Agency, setting fire to it and throwing eggs at policewomen. Big rallies open in the middle of the town every weekend these days and demonstrators continue street rallies afterward, causing severe traffic jams and inconvenience to the public. The police are just watching when such violence and arson thrive in the city.

On Saturday, the Korean Confederation for Trade Unions held a rally in front of Seoul Station and Yeouido, calling on the government to process the revision of the public welfare law as soon as possible. After the rally, some 10,000 demonstrators blocked the road in front of the police agency and tried to enter the agency building, exercising violence.

Their acts of setting the billboard near the building on fire and crashing the windows of it are good examples of illegal violence. Moreover, the demonstrators threw thousands of eggs at policewomen as well as against the agency building. Although rallies and demonstrations are ways of expressing one's opinions, they must be held within the law. Do they still have rights to call on the public welfare reform after committing such violence? Their actions make us doubt the true purpose of the trade union's rally.

There are some serious problems as well with the attitude of the police dealing with illegal rallies. The National Police Agency is the supreme commander of the police and is the symbol of the government authority.

Although the demonstrators attempted breaking into the building and setting fire to the billboard in front of it, the police was unable to arrest one person on the scene.

We doubt whether the police have given up their responsibility for maintaining safety and whether the demonstrators truly look down on the government power to exercise such violence.

It seems that the police are being cautious of the criticism after the Daewoo Motor suppression incident in April. The government is just shutting its eyes when police officers are beaten by demonstrators and fire bottles fly around randomly. The law must be enforced.



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