(eng) South Korea To Prosecute 438 Student Activists

Arm The Spirit (ats@etext.org)
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 16:50:48 +0200


South Korea To Prosecute 438 Student Activists

In South Korea's largest crackdown ever on campus activism, 438
students were charged Tuesday with taking part in violent, anti-government
demonstrations last month.
They were among 7,000 students who gathered at Seoul's Yonsei
University in August to protest government policy on reunification with
North Korea.
After eight days of repeated clashes between students and police,
the government sent in thosands of riot police to crush the rally, which it
had banned as pro-communist.
One police officer was killed. More than 1,000 people were injured.
About 5,500 students were detained for questioning and 465 were arrested.
Prosecutors said they were indicting 438 of those arrested on
charges of violence. Such charges call for up to seven years in prison.
Thirty students faced additional charges of pledging loyalty to
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the prosecutors said.
The violence prompted the government to outlaw Hanchongryon, the
nationwide student group that organized the Yonsei rally. Police are still
looking for some of its leaders.
In the past decade, students have held a unification rally
annually, timed to coincide with Korea's August 15th Independence Day, but
this year's rally, led by hardliners, was more violent.
Students supported North Korea's demands for the withdrawal of
37,000 U.S. troops from South Korea, saying they obstruct Korean
reunification.
They also supported North Korea's push for direct peace talks with
Washington - leaving out Seoul, which the North considers a U.S. puppet.
Government officials believe that leftist students, allied with
North Korea's communist regime, were trying to undermine the Seoul
government.
The two Koreas fought in 1950-53 and are still technically at war.

(Source: The Japan Times, Wednesday, September 18, 1996)

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