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Tensions Remain High After Base Clash

Posted May. 06, 2006 03:06,   


On May 5, Daechu-ri, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, the site of a massive confrontation just a day before was as tense as the cloudy weather. Sporadic clashes between police, military, and protesters continued.

About 100 local residents and members of civic groups held a protest at Daechu-ri Peace and Arts Park demanding that the police release all those detained and that the minister of defense resign for the May 4 violent crackdown.

There was a scuffle between police and crowd in the process of dispersing the crowd by police which regarded the demonstration as an unreported illegal one.

In addition, about 400 members of civic groups who were barred from joining the demonstration held demonstrations in Bongjeong Nonghyup, Gyeyang intersection, and Dodu-ri area. Some members that passed through the police line directly confronted soldiers on their way to Daechu-ri.

On the barbed wire that surrounded the rice paddies was military warning signs reading, “This area is military facility protection zone and unapproved access is prohibited.”

Military guard posts were set up every 100m on the fence perimeter, and an unarmed team consisting of two soldiers is standing security duty. Furthermore, tents have been set up near every guard post.

On the access road to the village, a significantly increased number of police stood guard. The local residents had to show their ID to get in and out, and outsiders were restricted from entering the area. The police commented, “Since it has been designated as a military facility protection area, about 20 companies or 2,000 police will be deployed in all times in order to guard facilities.”

Some local residents showed their determination to farm until the very end. As a matter of fact, rice buds are growing in artificial ponds in Dodu-ri, and residents say they plan to plant the rice buds in about 10 days.

Of the 524 that have been placed under custody in the process of carrying out court orders, only about 10 are local residents. The rest were members of anti-war and anti-American groups.

Police announced that there were 15 residents, about 250 Hanchongryun member university students, 65 from opposition groups such as the Anti-American Youth Group, 40 from the Democratic Labor Party, 15 from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and 130 that were street vendors and evictees.

Police plans to request arrest warrants for 10 radical protesters involved in the illegal demonstration and release the rest without detainment.

As for catholic priest Moon Jung-hyun, who held a protest on the roof of Daechu Elemetary School, police told him to report to court on charges of violating laws concerning demonstrations and protests. However, it has been confirmed that none of the three key activist members that had been issued an arrest warrant, including Mr. Kim, who had his issued on April 29, are under custody.

The police, who spearheaded the effort to demolish Daechu Elementary School, are concerned about negative public opinion due to the high number of casualties caused by the police’s forced entry, and ordered injured police officers and riot police to post up replies to Internet postings criticizing police intervention.

It has also been reported that the police has set a policy to actively respond to radical Internet postings of exaggerated or distorted reports.

Kyung-Hyun Nam bibulus@donga.com