Tuesday, December 20, 2005

death of another farmer

Seems the rumor that a protestor had died in Hong Kong Sunday morning was actually the death of farmer -- Hong Deok-pyo -- in South Korea. Farmers there got the word while staging their sit-in near the convention center and Guy Taylor had written about it briefly in his dispatches, though iniatially it was reported that it was the death of a WTO protestor in Hong Kong. The news was finally confirmed in media today by the Choson Ilbo. The injuries stemmed from the November 15th protest against the rice market liberalization that we mentioned in our story about Jeon Yong Cheol, who was also fatally injured at the protest, and in our lead-up article to the WTO. President Roh has apparently called an investigation into the protest.

Roh said he was stunned by scenes of violence during the demonstration aired on TV and worried people were bound to get hurt. But he urged the public to recognize that the police officers in charge of maintaining order “are our sons,” no matter how regretful the farmers’ death, according to Kim.

Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan expressed the condolences and regret of the government to Hong’s family, according to Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Lee Kang-jin. He said the government will investigate and punish anyone involved in any illegal activities or excessive suppression of protestors. Lee said the government will try to prevent a repeat of such incidents and to plant a culture of peaceful demonstrations in Korea.

I'm curious as to whether this event will focus more attention on some of the more notorious anti-riot squads such as the 1001-1003 detachments who seem to have been captured time and again in the media yet have rarely been officially sanctioned. In 2001, they were captured on film beating of nonviolent unionists in Pupyeong during the Daewoo protests. The video created public backlash and, you can correct me on this, I think the police chief was fired. Video of the incident was also used in the 2002 British zombie film 28 Days Later, in a scene where apes are being infected by 'rage' by being shown violent video footage in a scene reminscent of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Anyways, films aside, building a culture of "peacefull demonstration" will surely entail more supervision over some of these riot squads, and more importantly, reconsideration of some of the policy issues that create such deep social divisions to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post- we started linking your blog as well (no to wto)