[EDITORIALS]Financing violence

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[EDITORIALS]Financing violence

A decision on a measure to stop providing government financial aid to citizens and civic groups who have been involved in illegal and violent protests has been deferred. The delay was decided two days ago by a private-government committee that works to promote peaceful rallies.
Financial aid from the government to civic groups is awkward because independence and morality are a crucial basis for civic groups. If some of them frequently use violence, it would seem to be natural to stop providing financial aid to them.
Where does the aid come from? It comes from tax revenue. That is, the government has supported or even encouraged illegal protests with our taxes.
Last year, an estimated 180 billion won ($192 million) of aid was provided to civic groups. This money was given to more than 10,000 groups in total.
The aid was paid out according to laws that were implemented in regulations in 2000 for payment of financial aid to civic groups.
The first article of this law states that the aid should be paid to help nonprofit civic groups’ activities in the public interest and toward a democratic society.
Violent rallies cannot be defined that way. Violent protests are the opposite of the goals described in the law because they harm the public interest and the development of democratic society.
But the joint committee held back on its plan to stop providing financial aid, saying, “It is hard to tell whether demonstrators or groups were accidentally involved in illegal rallies or if they had violent intentions in advance.”
Including Father Ham Sei-ung, the co-director of the committee, more than half of the committee members either belong to labor groups or civic groups or were recommended for their committee posts by such groups. Perhaps that explains why the decision to stop payments was put off.
The other co-director of this committee is Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. Her stance on this issue is not yet known. She recently spoke softly about the violent protests in Pyeongtaek.
One cannot help suspecting that the government is not eager to govern the country according to the law. We worry about whether there are any limits to what the government would agree to if pressed by such groups. The money given to the Pan South Korea Solution Committee Against U.S. Base Expansion must be identified and revealed to the public.
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