Seoul gov’t bans Liberation Day rallies

SEOUL, The government of Seoul said Thursday it issued no-assembly orders for massive Liberation Day rallies planned by various civic groups in central parts of the capital, citing fears of coronavirus transmission.
The Seoul metropolitan government said it has officially banned 26 civic groups from holding rallies throughout central Seoul on Saturday, which coincides with the annual Liberation Day, a national holiday to celebrate the end of Japan’s 36-year colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in 1945.
The municipal government said its decision is aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus, as the Saturday rallies are expected to draw some 220,000 participants to the bustling downtown areas.
“Recently, clusters of virus infections have broken out at the Namdaemun Market, some religious facilities and other places, heightening public concern about the spread of COVID-19. Citizens are also concerned about possible virus transmission from the massive Aug. 15 rallies,” the municipal government said.
The government said it has sent written requests for the cancellation of rallies to all of the concerned civic groups, but seven of them have refused to comply.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has been asked to cooperate in enforcing the no-assembly administrative orders, it said, noting violators will face punishments and rally organizers will be asked to pay compensation if any transmission occurs among rally participants.
Authorities already banned gatherings in public squares in the city center, including Seoul Plaza and Gwanghwamun Square, in February as part of coronavirus measures, but they have imposed few restrictions on rallies held elsewhere. Aware of the ban, the 26 civic groups, mostly conservatives critical of the Moon Jae-in administration and its policies, have declared their plans to hold rallies outside the no-assembly zones.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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