[EDITORIALS]Violence doesn't help

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[EDITORIALS]Violence doesn't help

University students and civic group demonstrations against the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush have become increasingly violent and worrisome. About 20 members of the Hanchongryon, a nationwide student activist organization, broke into and occupied the office of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, on the 45th floor of the Trade Tower, Samseong-dong, Seoul. The police arrested all of the student intruders. The student activists threatened the policemen who were guarding the entrance with clubs and broke into the office. The group of students threw leaflets with slogans protesting Mr. Bush's visit and threats of war on the peninsula. They demanded that Washington change its hard-line stance against the North. The National Alliance for Democracy and Reunification of Korea also scheduled a street demonstration protesting against war on Wednesday in Daehang-no, Seoul. Starting Tuesday, small- and large-scale street demonstrations by civic organizations, religious groups and university students will take place one after another, suggesting a clash with the police.

We are not criticizing the activists who raise their voices in protest against the U.S. policy toward the North. We admit that Mr. Bush's remark about an "axis of evil" stirred disputes in Korea and international society. However, we cannot allow activists to promote their arguments by illegal and violent methods. If the activists try to accomplish their goals through such unacceptable ways, no one will listen to their arguments.

The police had tightened their security measures at major U.S. facilities in Korea in preparation for Mr. Bush's visit. Despite that, the chamber was occupied in broad daylight, showing a blind spot in police security. The police said eight officers were deployed to guard the office, but only two were standing at the entrance. Two policemen were far too few to stop a crowd of students armed with clubs.

Social organizations and students should stop unlawful demonstrations if they really care for the interests of our country. They should cooperate with the government to make Mr. Bush's visit a success. The police should also review their security measures to prevent recurrences of violent and unlawful demonstrations.
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