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70 Sewol victim families staged overnight sit-in protest at downtown Seoul

70 Sewol victim families staged overnight sit-in protest at downtown Seoul

Posted April. 18, 2015 07:30,   


Gwanghwamun, the front gate of Gyeongbok Palace that attracts many tourists and visitors in usual times has been shut down for an entire day on Friday as Sewol ferry victim families and civic group members staged overnight sit-in protest in front of the gate.

The protesters were some of participants of the first anniversary memorial ceremony titled "April 16 Night of Promises" for the deadly sunken ferry Sewol held in Seoul Square on Thursday. Some 70 bereaved families and 20 civic organization members broke into the police line and arrived in front of Gwanghwamun around midnight Friday. The protestors had staged a sit-in protest overnight in confrontation with the police. In the early morning of the day, some victim families tried to march in direction of the Sejong Street and the protesters clashed with the police who were stopping them.

At noon, the protesters held a press conference and harshly criticized President Park Geun-hye and the government, saying, “All responsibilities of the overnight sit-in protest lie in President Park Geun-hye.” Choi Gyeong-deok, the father of Sewol ferry victim Choi Seong-ho, argued the president ran away abroad without giving answers to demands from the bereaved families for abolishment of the Sewol Special Act’s Enforcement Decree and public announcement of salvaging the sunken ferry. The protesters chanted slogans of “resignation of the president, forbidding the president’s entry and deprivation of her citizenship,” raising their voices to pledge that they will go to the front gate of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Saturday.

Illegal rally that previously started in the center of Seoul continued until 3 a.m. on Friday. The memorial ceremony participants sporadically clashed with the police in Jongno, Cheonggye Stream and Insa-dong area. Violent scuffles took place between the police and protesters in Insa-dong and the police sprayed tear liquid made of capsaicin several times. During the process, a riot police got injured from falling down after being caught by the protesters. A 43-year-old female protester surnamed Kwon had chest injury with four ribs fractured and underwent surgery. The police arrested 10 rally participants.

Traffic jams and inconveniences are expected as the 4.16 Family Council and civic groups plan to hold a nationwide convention to call for salvaging the sunken ferry and investigation on the truth in Seoul Square at 3 p.m. on Saturday.