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S. Korea: Bring Back The Troops Home!

by KCTU/ETU-MB Friday, Jul. 02, 2004 at 7:19 AM

S. Korean anti war movement is intensifying the struggle against the plan to send additional 3,000 combat troops to Iraq. Instead we demand: Bring the troops home NOW!

MSSC STRUGGLE REPORT (Seoul, 6.28/29/30)

After the great anti troop dispatch rally last Saturday (last English MSSC report you can read here) on Monday, June 28, a kind of disillusionment took place: only few people joined the candlelight rally in the evening. For Tuesday at first central strike rally was planned. In Jongmyo Park, downtown Seoul, several thousand workers from different car producing companies - such as KIA, Daewoo and Ssangyong – and other workers organized in Korean Metal Workers Federation (KMWF), service workers, chemical and textile workers gathered there in the afternoon demanding higher wages, the implementing of the 5 working days week, better work conditions, but also – in such strong words it is new – protesting the government plan to send 3,000 more soldiers to Iraq. They were joined by different self organized student solidarity groups, and political organizations, such as Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and All Together. After the rally a march in the direction of nearby Gwanghwamun area started, followed by large units of riot cops (Korea Times, 04.06.30, reported 6,000 cops in readiness). There already many people, under them the Myeong-dong Sit-in Struggle Collective (MSSC), followed speeches condemning the government’s plans to support the occupation of Iraq. Following common rally, all together approximately 4,500 mainly workers participated, with the main subject of anti war, took place until around 6:30 pm. For 7 pm a new candlelight rally for Kim Seon-il, killed days before by “resistance fighters” in Iraq (MSSC reported here) was organized. But strange, even KCTU were the presenter of the rally, only few workers joined, mainly students – all together maximum 300 – participated. Even the atmosphere was really good and the speeches in strongest words condemned the troop dispatch plan – if the proletarians just count of the “power” of the student activists, then… Yesterday, in the late afternoon, as a direct result of Asia Forum of Peoples Movement, held here on June 14 and 14, a great rally against the occupation of Iraq took place in Jongmyo Park. About 1,500 people gathered there, demanded the end of the occupation and first of all we called to bring home South Korean troops, instead of sending new 3,000 soldiers. Groups and organizations such as DLP, All Together, Hanchongryeon, but also many self organized student solidarity groups were the majority of the participants – beside few workers, such as some hospital workers, just short time ago they finished successful their strike (MSSC reported here). After the rally again a demonstration, now about 2,000 people joined, to Gwanghwamun area started, and, again large units of riot cops followed. Arrived on the final place, we were able to take the complete half of the 8-line avenue (before we’d only 2 lines). Here very fast the crowd was increasing to approximately 6,000 persons (Ohmynews reported). The atmosphere was just great, even the majority of the participants, beside several hundreds hospital workers and some other unionists, were student and political activists. So especially the last two days were showing us our power, but also our weak points. As the next steps, to get on the way of possibly victory, we should bring together the unionized workers and the movement of student and political activists. And if activists of the netizens could get similar ideas like in end of 2002 and start to take the streets too – then nobody can stop us. Of course just on the condition that we are learning from our mistakes we did in March/April 2003, when the first bill about troop dispatch passed the National Assembly (read this report). Beside this perfectly developments on the anti war front since now 10 days Korean supporters of MSSC – and since Monday one member – stage a daily “One Man Protest” on Yeouido in front of the National Assembly, probably for the next 30 days. More in details about that event in another, later report.

Here just some impressions from yesterday’s rally in Gwanghwamun area


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