Friday, November 21, 2003
The Buan Riots
Buan county was the sole bidder and consequent awardee to construct a nuclear waste dump in Korea. However, the somewhat surprising outcome of this project has been the mass and intense riots that have broken out over the issue. It was only about two months ago that the mayor/county head was roundly beaten to a pulp by angry protestors over this issue. And yet the riots have continued and gotten increasingly violent with molotov cocktails and other weaponry coming into play.
You can see some fairly graphic footage of the riots and read (in Korean) a chronology of events at this site. The footage is well worth viewing.
The Joongang Ilbo is criticising President Roh as being too lenient.
By tolerating illegal demonstrations and showing leniency, the administration might gain popularity temporarily. But the tolerance will result in the collapse of national discipline and social order. Demonstrators who use violence and the leaders of groups that lead or instigate violent rallies should be held accountable. By punishing them, we must let others who stage rallies often understand that they cannot get anything out of violent demonstrations.
President Roh has reportedly said like of the project itself that the results of the scientific investigations won't come out until July next year after which the initial administrative procedures can follow but at present things are only in the preliminary stage and there are still procedures to be followed according to the law for situations like this. (or if my translating is bad, he said nothing like that at all).
Now, perhaps I haven't read enough information about this but I have a large amount of questions. What was done during the bidding process by the public to express their opposition to this project? How many letters and to which levels of government were written and what was the tone and content of these? What activits have sought to engage in the political process to overturn this result? What intermediary measures were taken before arriving at the protests to overturn or express dissatisfaction with this project. And if the scientific study is still over seven months short of coming out, what exactly are they complaining about and what basis are they using to support their argument? In short: in what way and to what extent were democratic processes available to the public utilised before we got to this?