Demon­stra­tors march in call for in­de­pen­dent Se­wol probe

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hold­ing yel­low bal­loons and car­ry­ing ban­ners, thou­sands of pro­tes­tors marched in the South Korean cap­i­tal on Satur­day, call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent probe into last year’s ferry dis­as­ter.

Four dif­fer­ent pro­ces­sions con­verged in cen­tral Seoul to protest at al­leged gov­ern­ment at­tempts to ob­struct an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the tragedy.

“Sal­vage the Se­wol Ferry,” chanted one of the groups as they marched along the pave­ment.

Wear­ing yel­low scarves and rib­bons, they also chanted slo­gans ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye of seek­ing to ham­per an in­de­pen­dent probe into the sink­ing.

The marchers, in­clud­ing dozens of fam­i­lies of the vic­tims, gath­ered for a rally in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Se­wol vic­tims on a green area of Se­jong Street where sup­port­ers of the fam­i­lies have been camp­ing over the past year.

“Step down, Park Geun-hye,” and “Park Gen-hye, don’t come home,” the crowd of some 3,000 chanted, with the pres­i­dent due to re­turn Mon­day from a trip to South Amer­ica which she be­gan on April 16, the first an­niver­sary of the dis­as­ter.

The sink­ing of the ves­sel in April last year claimed 304 lives, most of them teenagers on a school trip.

Po­lice did not in­ter­vene and the pro­tes­tors dis­persed peace­fully fol­low­ing a brief can­dlelit vigil.

On Thurs­day and again on Satur­day last week, po­lice sprayed pep­per wa­ter and trained wa­ter can­non on pro­tes­tors as a crowd of some 10,000 peo­ple surged into the street, at­tempt­ing to force their way through po­lice bar­ri­cades to­wards the pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence.

Park vowed last week to raise the sunken ferry to the sur­face to help find the nine peo­ple who are still un­ac­counted for.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed weeks of protests by vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and their sup­port­ers de­mand­ing a firm com­mit­ment to rais­ing the 6,825-tonne ferry, de­spite the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges and the es­ti­mated US$110 mil­lion cost.

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