Greetings from Seoul! (Members & Section News).
The members of Women Making Peace (WMP) carried out a variety of events against war and violence since 11 September. Our main goal was to raise the people's awareness of issues concerning the danger of war and the need for building conditions for a lasting peace on our peninsula. We promoted sending messages of peace to President Bush and President Kim.
After Bush declared North Korea to be part of an 'axis of evil' and used other inflammatory rhetoric interpreted by North Korea as insults, we, South Koreans, felt uneasy about the increased possibility of war on the Korean peninsula.
The general level of anger and frustration with Bush and his administration is on the rise because of Washington's disregard for the dangers thrust upon us. WMP has declared its position and carried out daily one-person demonstrations prior to Bush's visit. (Korean regulations prohibit mass demonstrations near foreign embassies and other locations). We also joined in planning and holding a mass open-air demonstration with other NGOs, civic leaders, and church communities during the Bush visit.
On February 20,2002, Chongno-4ga street was filled with more than 6,000 citizens including women, labourers, farmers and students. There would have been more had some students not been prevented by the police from joining.
People from environmental, reunification, religious, and other organizations from all over the country were there. The participants proclaimed themselves adamantly against war and in favour of a permanent peace. They called on Bush to revoke his hostile stance toward the North. They declared their opposition to an unequal world order based on neoliberalism and globalization. They objected to Bush's very visit to South Korea. This public gathering proceeded peacefully as a lawful demonstration permitted by the government. Women especially elevated the peaceful mood by sitting at the front of the stage with colourful dove-shaped pickets. It was so beautiful and peaceful!
However, all of a sudden, the police came into the crowd of demonstrators when farmers were about to burn a small American flag made of paper. This action by the farmers was not part of the planned programme, but the problem was the aggressive and violent action by the police. They hit participants with their shields and billy clubs. A few excited participants began to resist them, and the meeting fell into disorder.
Due to the violent and excessive action by the police, some participants were injured and were bleeding. One of them was Hyun-sook Lee, a co-representative of WMR She was beaten by police. Her glasses were broken, and she was bruised. Furthermore, she was seriously hurt on the left side of her face. Members of WMP were very shocked by the heavy loss of blood and rushed her to the hospital. She needed more than 50 stitches, lasting 40 minutes, to close the wound.
Reports of Lee's injury were carried by the media. The press criticized the violent action by the police.
Women Making Peace denounced this violent action by those who are supposed to be responsible for the well-being and safety of the people. They have called for just punishment of the guilty ones, given the breach of security of peaceful and lawful demonstrators, WMP and other organizations wanting to meet with the Seoul Chief of Police were denied access.
WPM deplores the handling of this incident. We do not want any violence. We will continue to press for redress, and we will continue our efforts for peace through campaigns, statements, and expression of our rightful views in a non-violent manner.
Women Making Peace; a former WILPF intern at the Geneva Office)
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|Publication:||International Peace Update|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2002|
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