[EDITORIALS]Protest law must be respectedThe nation’s 86 civic, labor and social organizations have announced that they plan to disobey the revised law on assembly and demonstrations. This amounts to declaring that they will defy the law by staging illegal violent rallies. Their reason for the protest is that the law imposes stricter limits on assemblies and demonstrations by banning excessive noise and marching on main roads.
It was because of problems involved in assemblies and demonstrations in the past that the Assembly and Demonstration Act was revised and clauses restricting the noise level and rallies on main roads were inserted. In a democratic society, freedom of assembly and demonstrations is guaranteed. But it can be restricted by law if it violates the rights of others and hurts the public interest.
Blocking main roads and making unbearable noise with loudspeakers under the pretext of rallies violates the rights of others and hurts the public interest. The new law stipulates those whose commercial activities are impeded by the noise of loudspeakers used by demonstrators can demand compensation for damages.
It is absurd to protest the ban on assemblies and marching without a permit in the vicinity of schools and military facilities. It was extremely dangerous that some students raided a firing range of a U.S. military unit in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province last year and climbed on armored vehicles loaded with live ammunition. The same situation should not be repeated. Limiting demonstrations near schools is necessary to protect students’ right to study.
It is proper to prohibit a group that staged a violent rally from holding another meeting with the same purpose. The trunk roads that become the playground of demonstrators on weekends must be returned to the residents. Roads are for traffic, not for demonstrations.
In the past, some demonstrations tended to be self-indulgent. The police overlooked such tendencies under the guise of democratization. Although a demonstration is a way to express the people’s will, it must be orderly. Now, the demonstration culture must be upgraded. The new law is for this purpose. If civic groups reject the law through disobedience, it is a new type of violent demonstration.