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Offices of 2 Civic Groups Raided in Protest Crackdown

Posted July. 01, 2008 03:13,   


Police yesterday raided the offices of the People’s Council for Countermeasures Against Mad Cow Disease and its key affiliate Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement as part of the crackdown on violent protests against U.S. beef imports.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said the early morning raid on the association’s office in downtown Seoul confiscated items used in candlelight vigils, including three computers, pickets with slogans such as “Out with Lee Myung-bak,” sandbags, flags, raincoats and fire extinguishers.

Police also raided the progressive alliance’s office in western Seoul around the same time, seizing 22 desktop computers, a laptop, documents and placards related to the U.S. beef controversy.

Leading alliance member Hwang Soon-won was also arrested.

Prosecutor General Lim Chae-jin told a meeting of senior prosecutors, “The candlelight vigils that started peacefully with an innocent purpose are turning into violent demonstrations. It is time to end this situation laced with illegality and violence.”

Lim also announced countermeasures to root out violent protests; a stern response to reckless charges and allegations made in cyberspace; a crackdown on those who fake the country of origin of foreign beef; and fair law enforcement.

The People’s Council for Countermeasures Against Mad Cow Disease last night also attended Mass hosted by the Catholic Priests` Association for Justice at Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall and tried to hold a candlelight vigil there afterwards.

Police, however, surrounded the plaza with police buses and prevented religious figures and protesters from taking to the streets after Mass.

Earlier, 131 protesters were arrested for demonstrating from Sunday afternoon to early Monday morning. One teen was released but the other 130 remained in custody.