May 04, 2006 20:49
Police and the military on Monday evicted protesters against the expansion of a U.S. base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province and set up a barbed wire fence around the site. The massive 10-hour operation to throw the activists out of their impromptu headquarters at Daechu-ri Elementary School, on land that is to become the U.S. Forces Korea’s new headquarters, saw 471 protesters from outside including students and members of civic groups and the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions arrested. There were near 100 reports of injuries. Police decided to punish all the violent protesters according to the law.
At around 4:30 a.m. 115 companies of police or some 11,500 started to pour into the area. When the operation ended at 4 p.m., police had obtained control of the school.
At 7:30 a.m. the Defense Ministry sent in a force of some 3,000 including 600 army engineers and 700 private security personnel as well as earthmovers and other heavy equipment. The group made headway on a 29 km barbed-wire fence near Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek and demolished the school.
The ministry informed the Pyeongtaek mayor the area is now a military facility protection zone. From now on, no one will be allowed to come and go at the site aside from traveling on designated roads. Any construction or expansion of buildings in the area will have to be discussed with the military authorities.
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said in a statement, "The actions by some activists to use the people of the area as pawns in a political battle against a national project is detrimental both to the citizens living in the area and the national interest." Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission dispatched 13 investigators to the scene to ascertain no human rights violations occurred in the day’s conflict.
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