Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Violent clashes see scores arrested at South Korean rally


Police yesterday detained more than 50 protesters and were seeking out others after violent clashes marred the largest anti-government demonstrations in South Korea’s capital in more than seven years.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse about 70,000 people allied with labor, civic and farmers’ groups, who took to the streets to rally against conservative South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The activists oppose Park’s business-friendly labor policies and a decision to require middle and high schools to use only state-issued history textbooks starting in 2017.

A 69-year-old farmer, Baek Nam-gi, remained unconscious at a hospital after he fell and injured his head as police doused him with water cannons near Seoul City Hall, Korea Peasants League secretary-general Cho Byung-ok said.

Video footage showed Baek lying motionless as other demonstrators struggled to drag him away and police continued to fire water cannons from atop police buses.

Police said they have detained 51 people and could possibly bring in more, including those who they believe might had larger roles in organizing the protests.

Kim Sung-soo, spokesman of the country’s main opposition party New Politics Alliance for Democracy, released a statement that criticized the “excessively violent” police suppression of the protest, which he said was responsible for Baek’s injury.

The protesters, many of them masked, carried banners and chanted “Park Geun-hye, step down” and “No to layoffs,” as they occupied a major downtown street. Some of them clashed with police, who created tight perimeters with buses to block them.

Protesters tried to move some of the buses by pulling ropes they had tied to the vehicles, and police, wearing helmets and body armor, responded by firing tear gas and water cannons.

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