[EDITORIALS]Violent Rallies Counterproductive

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[EDITORIALS]Violent Rallies Counterproductive

Worries are growing with the labor sector's ever-escalating radical rallies against restructuring and the emergence of slogans expressing anti-American sentiment or calling for President Kim Dae-jung's resignation. Over the weekend, a preparation committee for the People's Alliance, composed of 35 groups, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Union, rallied at Pagoda Park, and an alliance of workers at public firms held a rally at Seoul Station. After the rallies, many participants clashed with police at the city center and in front of Yonsei University, paralyzing traffic north of the Han River for hours. Workers and students hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the riot police blocking their street marches. Some scuffles ensued between the riot police and demonstrators.

We fully understand workers' frustration in the wake of layoffs. In addition, it is necessary to heed the voices that say restructuring should not be a synonym only for workers' sacrifice. Nevertheless, workers' demonstrations should remain within legal bounds. Molotov cocktails have been thrown in several rallies this year. To make matters worse, it is said that a recipe for a powerful Molotov cocktail akin to a bomb had been posted on a labor group's Internet site. It is fortunate that such powerful Molotov cocktails were not used in the rallies over the weekend.

The slogans shouted in rallies are disturbing as well. In the weekend rallies, there were slogans, "Step down, Kim Dae-jung regime that presses ahead with restructuring!" and "Let us drive out American thugs forcing neo-liberalism down our throats!" It is hard to fathom what grounds they had in demanding the democratically elected president to step down before the end of his term. If workers insist that all Americans leave because of worries over trade pressures, who will take their other arguments seriously? Even without touching on the U.S military here, such demands sound foolish and counterproductive.

Violent demonstrations are likely to invite violent crackdowns - and victims. In order to elicit the sympathy and support of the general public, labor should stop violent rallies and develop a new culture of demonstrations.
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