South Korea: Massive Sewol Anniversary Rally Faced Police Repression

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Tens of thousands filled Seoul Plaza on the first Anniversary of the Sewol Ferry disaster that claimed 304 lives. The Sewol ferry was carrying 476 people when it sank on April 16, 2014, 325 of the passengers were children. Of the 304 who died, 250 were children from the same high school in Ansan, a city south of Seoul that was the focus of Thursday’s remembrance activities.

Riot police used pepper spray on the mourning families who were infuriated by police barricades erected to prevent them from laying flowers at a makeshift altar in central Seoul after the huge rally at City Hall.

Police brutality and scuffles continued as thousands of people tried to find a way around a giant police cordon thrown across the area. “This is outrageous,” said Lee Myong-Woo, one of the rally organisers. “This was totally the police’s doing. We didn’t want any violence today, and there was no reason to stop us peacefully laying flowers at the altar,” he said.

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