Violent night rallies illegalThe police announced Saturday that they will strictly enforce the law regarding protests over opening the Korean market to U.S. beef. The prosecutors had a meeting with section chiefs for public security and criminal cases and resolved to abide by the law when handling illegal and violent acts. We believe this is fortunate, though belated. Central Seoul has become a lawless area night after night for two months. The police and prosecutors delayed enforcing the law, giving a variety of reasons. This is tantamount to the police and prosecutors denying their raison d’etre in a constitutional country.
Since late last month, the president, prime minister and cabinet ministers, whose duties include public security, have urged protesters to refrain from illegal rallies. They said they would severely punish those who committed illegal acts. Their words must now lead to action. If their promise to the people turns out to be empty words, the country can’t have discipline and order.
The people can’t even say they are living in a decent country. A poll shows that ordinary citizens have difficulties because of blocked traffic and small shop owners are struggling with their livelihoods because of the rallies. They have become increasingly enraged and their patience is running out.
Civic and social organizations that led street rallies maintain that violence took place because of the police.
They say the rallies have gone on for a long period because the government didn’t listen to them. They try to say there is nothing wrong with their argument and the kind of rallies they have held, but the situation has worsened because the government responded in the wrong way. One can understand their argument to some extent about excessive crackdowns by the police and the government. But how can they explain the fact that the protesters prepared steel pipes and wooden poles in advance? Did they expect excessive crackdowns and prepare weapons for self-defense?
Candlelight rallies were supported by the people because the intention was innocent and protesters attended the rallies voluntarily. However, violent night rallies are definitely illegal acts.
Protesters can hold rallies peacefully in a registered place in the daytime. Those who organize rallies don’t need to give reasons for suspicion or controversy. Illegal and violent night rallies must be punished. There can’t be compromise when it comes to law and principles, the basic foundations of governing and sustaining the nation.