Posted June. 21, 2005 07:43,
On June 20, farmers demanding the repeal of the rice negotiation and objecting to its ratification by the National Assembly staged a general strike by trenching rice fields and returning agricultural machines across the country.
Farmers urged that the government should clarify the suspicion of behind-the-scenes agreements on rice negotiation and that the National Assembly should annul the disgraceful negotiation that would destroy Koreas agricultural industry.
A total of six agrarian groups in Gwangju City, Jeonnam Province, including the Gwangju and Jeonnam leagues under the Korean Peasants League (KPL), held a proclamation ceremony for a general strike in 20 cities and counties and launched a demonstration by trenching rice fields, returning agricultural machinery, and blocking a rice processing center (RPC).
Approximately 100 members from an agrarian group in Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju City plowed up 1,100 pyeong of rice fields using a tractor in Samdo-dong on the same day. In addition, protests of plowing up the rice field occurred in Dodeok-myeon, Goheung-gun, Jeonnam Province, Pungdeok-dong, Suncheon City, and Yeongju City, Gyeongbuk Province. An agrarian group in Jangsu-gun, Jeonbuk Province trenched a 400-pyeong pumpkin plantation in Munong-ri, Jangkye-myeon.
Another agrarian group in Gyeongsan City, Gyeongbuk Province set fire to a cultivator in front of the Gyeongsan branch of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), and 200 farmers from Buan-gun, Jeonbuk Province piled 100 agricultural tools such as shovels, hoes, sickles, and rakes and burnt them down.
Protests of returning agricultural machinery and blocking RPC also followed.
Three dongs, including the Pyeong-dong, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju City, and nine meyons in Haenam-gun staged a returning rally by fetching 90 agricultural machines, including cultivators, combines, and tractors to the front of the dong office.
Farmers also blocked a total of eight rice processing centers, including the two in Podu-myeon, Goheung-gun, and Baeksu-eub, Yeonggwang-gun, Jeonnam Province, and three in Nasan-myeon, Hampyeong-gun by mobilizing agricultural machinery.
The agrarian group in Busan refused to ship agricultural products, which caused a deadlock in the balance of supply and demand of vegetables such as lettuce, leeks, and cucumbers.
Agrarian groups decided to continue their protests by trenching rice fields, blocking RPC, returning agricultural machinery, and hanging banners until June 22, and to hold a national farmers meeting attended by 50,000 farmers at the square in front of the National Assembly Hall in Yeouido, Seoul on June 28.