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Police Deny Labor March Permission

Posted November. 07, 2006 06:59,   


The police decided not to give permission for a march on a street in Seoul for first time since 1999 when the Kim Dae-jung administration first allowed a street march. The police cited possible traffic jams as a reason for its refusal.

In regard to this, police said yesterday, “The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korea Trade Unions (FKTU) asked for approval for an assembly and they planned to stage large-scale workers’ marches at Gwanghwamun, Seoul on November 12 and 25, respectively. However, the police didn’t give approval because the march would cause serious traffic congestion in these areas.”

The police made their decision in accordance with Article 12, “Regulation of assembly for facilitating traffic,” of the Assembly and Demonstration Act.

Until 1999, the police didn’t permit street marches during assemblies. From 1999, the police first allowed street marches which were rarely prohibited, except ones that had possibility to degenerate into violent demonstrations. It is the first time for the police to prohibit them because of worries about possible traffic jams.

According to the police, the KCTU reported that it will hold a workers march in front of statue of Admiral Lee Soon-shin in Sejongno, Seoul, in which 200,000 workers are planned to participate. The FKTU also reported that it will hold an assembly of 30,000 workers in front of the Kyobo Life Building, Sejongno, Seoul. Both the KCTU and the FKTU included street marches in their assembly events.

Facing refusal from the police, neither the KCTU nor FKTU has asked for reconsideration, which is only available 48 hours after a refusal.

Article 12 of the Assembly and Demonstration Act states, “Police can prohibit assemblies or demonstrations that take place in particular major cities and main streets which are declared by presidential decree.” The Gwanghwamun area, including Sejongno and Taepyeongno, has the main streets that are covered by presidential decree.

Before this, the police ordered local police stations on September 27 to prohibit street marches which are expected to disturb traffic and inconvenience citizens.

However, last month, the Unification Solidarity for Realization of June 15th Joint Declaration and Peace in the Korean Peninsula and Korea Federation of Transportation Public and Social Service Worker’s Union held assemblies in downtown Seoul which caused serious traffic congestion.

Street marches became permitted in 1999 when the former Chief superintendent General of National Police Agency Lee Moo-young was in office; he introduced ‘New Assembly Control Measures’ and allowed street marches.