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Farmers stage protest rallies, call for measures for debt write-off

Farmers stage protest rallies, call for measures for debt write-off

Posted December. 07, 2000 20:04,   


Some 50,000 farmers staged sporadic demonstrations at about 120 locations across the nation Thursday, demanding that the government write off their debts. The farmers took to the streets after holding their second set of protest rallies organized by the National Federation of Farmers¡¯ Organizations, composed of a total of 21 farmers¡¯ groups.

They said at the rallies that the government was unwilling to seek special legislation for the reduction or cancellation of their debts. They went on to urge the administration to work out fundamental countermeasures to help revive farming villages in such a way as to guarantee the prices of agricultural and livestock products and allow them to write off their debts.

As an expression of their dismay with high debts and plunging prices of agricultural and livestock products, the farmers launched a campaign to pay the interest on their debts with farming products and return farm machinery to government authorities. The federation estimated that more than 10,000 agricultural machines were returned to officials of cities, counties and agricultural cooperatives.

After holding the rallies, the farmers took to highways and national roads to attend a farmers¡¯ rally scheduled to be held at Yoido Park in Seoul, Friday.

The farmers clashed with riot police throughout the nation and partially paralyzed traffic on major roads and highways. Some farmers destroyed rice-planting machines and other implements as a show of protest.

Some of the farmers plan to occupy highways or come to Seoul by chartered bus for sit-in rallies in front of the National Assembly building and the headquarters building of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) in Yoido. The sit-ins are slated to last until Saturday.

Police deployed about 25,000 troops around the sites of the rallies in order to block the movements of protesting farmers.