Sedi­tion charges on pro­test­ers

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing lead­ers of con­ser­va­tive or­ga­ni­za­tions who called for the pro­mul­ga­tion of mar­tial law, among oth­ers, dur­ing the so-called Taegeukgi (na­tional flag) ral­lies at the end of last year and be­gin­ning of this year. They op­posed the im­peach­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye.

It is un­prece­dented for po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate par­tic­i­pants of demon­stra­tions and ral­lies on sedi­tion charges for in­sti­gat­ing the use of vi­o­lence with the pur­pose of over­throw­ing the state.

To date, only for­mer Army gen­er­als and ex-Pres­i­dents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, who seized power through the Dec. 12, 1979, coup, and for­mer law­maker Lee Seok-ki, leader of the dis­banded pro-North Korean United Pro­gres­sive Party, have been con­victed of trea­son.

In­deed, the demon­stra­tors went too far; but their calls for mar­tial law pro­mul­ga­tion and a mil­i­tary coup were close to slo­gans com­ing in the heat of the mo­ment, rather than be­ing in­dica­tive of any or­ga­nized ef­fort for sedi­tion.

Their counter-pro­test­ers, “can­dlelit demon­stra­tors” chanted, “Let’s ad­vance to Cheong Wa Dae and drag Park Geun-hye out.” Yet, po­lice have not yet taken is­sue with such a rad­i­cal slo­gan.

Fur­ther­more, po­lice started the in­ves­ti­ga­tion seven months af­ter Mil­i­tary Hu­man Rights Korea, a pro­gres­sive non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, filed a com­plaint with the pros­e­cu­tion against the pro-Park pro­test­ers.

It is nat­u­ral to ques­tion what mo­ti­vated po­lice to con­duct the in­ves­ti­ga­tion now, though they claimed they had no choice but to open the case fol­low­ing or­ders from the pros­e­cu­tion.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pro-Park sup­port­ers is cer­tainly rais­ing ques­tions over fair­ness and also caus­ing strong sus­pi­cion that pol­i­tics are be­hind the un­prece­dented probe.

The pros­e­cu­tion and po­lice should deal with the case fairly or they will face sus­pi­cions not just that they are cater­ing to those in power but also al­le­ga­tions that they are en­croach­ing on the legally guar­an­teed right of assem­bly.

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