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S. Korean police ban anti-FTA protests

2006/12/05 16:57 KST

S. Korean police ban anti-FTA protests

By Kim Young-gyo

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) — South Korean police said no anti-FTA protests will be permitted on Wednesday and warned the nation’s civic groups to obey the law.

Police refused to approve the protests against free trade agreement talks between South Korea and the United States out of fear they could spiral into violence.

Officers said they will quell any illegal rallies and punish violent agitators.

Anti-FTA rallies organized by the Korean Alliance against the Korea-U.S. FTA turned violent last Wednesday, leaving 63 people injured, including 35 police officers, and caused 670 million won (US$720,250) in property damage, according to police estimates.

Police have filed four suits against the protest leaders, demanding compensation for the property damage, including police buses and buildings.

Farmers and supporters vowed Monday to go ahead with their large-scale street protests this week in defiance of the government’s disapproval.

The National Human Rights Commission recommended Tuesday that the National Police Agency (NPA) allow the civic groups to proceed with the planned rallies in expression of their democratic rights.

The commission received appeals from the protest leaders last week calling for the freedom to hold rallies in public places, it said.

"We are going to review the recommendation by the commission," an officer at the NPA said.

 source: Yonhap