A time for grief, not protest

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A time for grief, not protest

Today a people’s funeral for former President Roh Moo-hyun is to be held. The nation has mourned Roh since he took his life last weekend. More than 1 million people have visited Bongha Village and other makeshift altars nationwide.

Despite sizzling temperatures, people have stood in line patiently to pay their respects to the late president, regardless of their social standing, ideology, age, political persuasion or even regional ties.

In general the mourning has been conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner.

But there have been some disappointments. Some members of Nosamo, an organization of Roh’s supporters, stopped some people from visiting some altars or refused to accept flowers from some.

The concern now is that disorderly behavior might start after the funeral is over. People are worried that violent groups might use the funeral to condemn the Lee Myung-bak administration.

The Democratic Party argues that someone must be accountable for Roh’s death and some believe we have to investigate whether the prosecutors’ investigation of the late president was overly harsh. If the probe was too harsh, someone has to take responsibility and the government has to come up with measures to prevent such practice happening again.

If the Blue House investigates whether the prosecutors’ probe was unnecessarily harsh, the issue can be handled in the National Assembly in June. But arguments from opposition party circles might go beyond this. It might lead to expansive political attacks and the National Assembly in June could be thrown into turmoil again.

Civic organizations are planning large-scale events, such as a candlelight rally. They are already clashing with authorities who prohibit using the square in front of City Hall.

Of course, holding a peaceful candlelight vigil is not a problem. But if activists join and turn the event into a violent mob activity, we will become insecure again.

Now is the time for mourning, not for protests. That is the spirit of a people’s funeral.

When it comes to agony and pain, the late President Roh suffered most. Nevertheless, he wrote in his will: “Do not blame anyone.” Politicizing mourning is against the spirit of his will and the meaning of a people’s funeral.

We are in the middle of an economic crisis and we are all concerned about North Korea’s latest provocative actions that have increased tensions.

An attempt to hijack the period of mourning for political ends is an act of instigation, not patriotism.
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