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Court allows second mass rally this weekend

Dec. 3, 2015 - 21:55 By 신현희

The court ruled on Thursday that the police ban on the second mass anti-government rally planned for this weekend is "unjust," giving the event the greenlight.

The Seoul Administrative Court said that one cannot assure that the protest will pose a threat to the public safety simply because the event will be led by some of the groups who were in charge of last month's violent protest.

Following the ruling, police said that it will respect the court decision but will take stern measures if the rally turns violent.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Seoul on Nov. 14 to protest the government's decision to adopt state history textbooks for secondary students and push for labor reforms. The rally turned violent as some protesters brandished metal pipes and police fired water cannons at them. A farmer was in a critical condition after being knocked down by a water cannon.

On Sunday, a task force composed of civic groups against the "state violence" during the previous rally reported its plan to have some 7,000 protesters march through the heart of Seoul on Dec. 5 in protest of the farmer's injury.

After police banned the protest citing fears that it may hurt public safety, they filed the lawsuit asking the court to suspend the effectuation of the ban.

"The organizers have repeatedly promised to make it a peaceful rally, and the Nov. 28 rally they had following the first massive rally proceeded peacefully although it had the same purpose with the recently proposed one," Judge Kim Jeong-sook of the court said in a verdict.

One cannot say the organizers of the two rallies are the same simply because some of the participating groups are the same, it added.

After the court ruling, police said that it has no plans to intervene in the upcoming rally unless the organizers breach the laws.

"But if they occupy roads or march toward Cheong Wa Dae under the excuse of holding 'a peaceful rally,' we'll take measures to recover order on the scene," a police official said, requesting not to be named.

The ruling came hours after the police disallowed a separate rally planned by the Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea, an association of 490 liberal civic groups across the country, on the same day in downtown Seoul.

Police said it appears to be the same one planned by the main organizers of the Nov. 14 rally.

The association said they will file a similar lawsuit to hold the rally as planned. (Yonhap)