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Mother, 51, badly hurt by protesters at rally

May 02,2006
The 51-year-old mother of a riot policeman is being treated in the hospital for a serious head injury after being pushed to the ground by union demonstrators while she and a group of other parents were monitoring a protest rally in South Jeolla province, police said. The group demanded an apology yesterday from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.
The rally was mounted last week by about 1,000 members of the labor union at Hyundai Hysco’s steel facility in Suncheon. The parents’ group has been campaigning for an end to violent demonstrations, both for their sons’ safety and for broader social peace.
Three of the parents, including two women, were attacked by some of the demonstrators, police and the group said. Some of the union accused the parents of being sent by the police. The parents were wearing blue caps and sashes that identified them as parents of riot policemen posted at the scene, police and the group said.
The 51-year-old woman whom the group did not identify was reportedly pushed to the ground.
“She is currently being treated in a hospital,” said Lee Jeong-hwa, the leader of the parents’ group, “but she has difficulty communicating. Her son is serving in a riot police unit at the South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency, and he witnessed his mother being injured at the scene.”
Two other police parents received less serious injuries. One, a 50-year-old woman, reportedly suffered a split lip after being hit in the face by a protester. No information was available about the third injury.
Trade union officials denied that there was violence at the rally, but police said they have photographs that could lead to charges being filed against some of the demonstrators. Union officials charged that the police agency had induced the parents to monitor the demonstration by promising that their sons would be given extra vacation time. Two farmers died late last year during violent protests in Seoul, and riot police were severely criticized for using excessive force.
Police have announced they are trying to take a lower profile at rallies, but some have been injured. Last month, several police officers were attacked by protesters in Changwon, South Gyeongsang province.


by Chung Kang-hyun


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