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Labor group vows massive protest rally next week

All Headlines 14:57 November 29, 2015

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- A major umbrella labor group said Sunday it will press ahead with a massive protest rally in central Seoul next weekend.

It heralds another clash between protesters and police following a fierce street stand-off in mid-November.

At that time, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against President Park Geun-hye's labor and education policies.

Police used tear gas and water cannons against the violent demonstrators.

Police announced that they would prohibit the second rally slated to be held at Seoul Plaza on Dec. 5.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) accused police of "regressing to the dictatorial era."

"Police are denying the constitutional rights to the freedom of protest rallies, and it's tantamount to the self-acknowledgement that the current government is a dictatorship," it said in a statement.

There is no change in the plan for another round of massive street protests next week, it added.

President Park Geun-hye has vowed not to tolerate "illegal" demonstrations and instructed officials to come up with strong measures to root out violent protests.

During the Nov. 14 rally, 51 demonstrators were rounded up and the number of people under investigation reached 270, according to the National Police Agency.

The violent demonstration also caused 29 demonstrators to be rushed to hospitals after sustaining injuries.

Among the injured was a 69-year-old farmer, surnamed Baek, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after being knocked down by a police water cannon.

According to the NPA, 113 police officers were injured during the protest, 50 police buses were damaged and 231 items of police equipment, including walkie-talkies and rain coats, were lost or broken.

Police estimated the damage at 389 million won (US$337,000) and are planning to seek compensation through a lawsuit.

The KCTU threatened to go on a general strike unless the government rolls back its push for making the labor market more flexible.

It added it's vigilant against a possible raid by police into the Jogye Temple in Seoul, where Han Sang-gyun, head of the KCTU, has taken shelter.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Han for organizing illegal rallies.

The KCTU claimed chances are high that police will raid the temple while President Park is on a weeklong overseas trip.

She left for France on Sunday to attend a U.N. conference on climate change.
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