Amnesty International issued a strongly worded criticism of recent actions by the government of South Korea against people who were protesting the import of American beef. According to AI investigator Norma Kang Muico, there were many incidents where protestors’ human rights were infringed on in the candelit vigils. She did note “the protests were largely peaceful” but there were some cases where protestors attacked and vandalized police vehicles. However, she said riot police frequently used excessive force against people in the crowds.
Amnesty International was particularly upset “regarding non-lethal riot control devices such as water cannons and fire extinguishers fired at close range.” There was also concern that few riot police had identification badges which meant an individual policeman could exert force since he knew no one could identify him for further action. Ms. Muico learned most police involved in riot control were young recruits between 20-22 who lacked experience in dealing with large crowds.
The Ministry of Justice refuted Amnesty International findings. What else could it say?