Students Observe Uprising Anniversary With Demonstrations
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Witnesses and news reports said police and thousands of anti-government protesters clashed at a monument and on 18 college campuses today, the 25th anniversary of a student-led uprising that led to the downfall of the Syngman Rhee government.
Students threw stones, torches and bottle bombs in attempts to break through police cordons just outside campuses, witnesses said. The Yonhap news agency said demonstrations were reported on 18 campuses in Seoul.
Almost 6,000 slogan-chanting people, mostly students, tried to march near a memorial tower and cemetery in northern Seoul which contains the graves of more than 180 students killed during the 1960 uprising, witnesses said.
They said the demonstrators, carrying a huge placard that said ″hammer of democracy down on the stronghold of dictatorship,″ marched about 800 yards from the tower toward streets until police fired tear gas to disperse them.
Riot police were on full alert at strategic points and leading campuses across Seoul. Student demonstrators have clashed with police on the anniversary for the past two and a half decades.
Witnesses said the protesters shouted slogans and scattered leaflets opposing the planned visit to Washington by President Chun Doo-hwan for talks with President Reagan. Chen is scheduled to leave for Washington next Wednesday.
Protesters also called for an end to ″military dictatorship″ and for the release of imprisoned students and others accused of anti-government activities, the witnesses said.
At least 100 young people were seen taken away by police. No serious injuries were reported.
Witnesses said more than 1,500 demonstrators at Yonsei University battled police firing tear gas. The hour and a half of fighting broke out when the students tried to march into the streets in western Seoul. The students threw stones and torches in an effort to break through the police cordon just outside the main gate but the police lines held, the witnesses said.
Violent student demonstrations to protest Chun’s planned trip also were held at more than half a dozen schools Thursday. The students were critical of the Reagan administration, saying it supports the Chun government.
Government officials have maintained that the opposition to the visit represents only a ″paper-thin″ segment of South Korean opinion.
However, the trip has become a focal point of sporadic demonstrations in recent weeks, many of them with more anti-American overtones than in the past. In addition to political differences, protestors have assailed what they term increasing economic influence over South Korea from abroad.
Government and political leaders earlier today visited the monument and cemetery containing the graves of students killed during the 1960 uprising, touched off charges of election-rigging.
The officials included ruling party Chairman Roh Tae-woo; Lee Min-woo, president of the opposition New Korea Democratic Party; and two nationally known dissident leaders, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam.
The Council for the Promotion of Democracy led by the two Kims called today for an end to intervention in the nation’s politics by ″a small group of military men.″
The council demanded that systems and laws that ″block the development of democracy″ be abolished, election laws be revised, basic rights such as the freedoms of press, assembly and association be urgently restored, campus freedom be guaranteed, the livelihood of people in urban and farms areas be ensured, and ″prisoners of conscience″ be released and their civil rights restored.