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Police break up sit-ins by power-line protesters

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Published : 2014-06-11 21:13
Updated : 2014-06-11 21:33

The Miryang city government and police on Wednesday forcibly removed three camps of locals engaged in a prolonged protest against the construction of a high voltage power line in the area.

A total of five tower construction sites had been occupied by protesters, and the Miryang authorities plan to clear the remaining two within the day.

At about 6 a.m. Tuesday, officials from the South Gyeongsang Province city began taking down the protesters’ makeshift shelters with the support of about 2,000 police. 
Police forcibly remove protesters blocking the path to the construction site of high-voltage transmission towers in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The protesters had been ordered to withdraw by June 2.

The city officials and police were met with strong resistance from the protesters, who responded by throwing manure and physically resisting the officials. One elderly woman attempted to resist by chaining herself naked inside a hole dug into the ground.

The authorities are also reported to have found flammable materials including two canisters of liquefied petroleum gas at the sites. It is unknown whether the materials were to be used to fight off the police and city officials.

According to reports, a number of Miryang residents and a nun supporting their cause were injured and taken to the hospital. In addition, a protester identified by the surname Bae was taking into custody for interfering with public officials. Another protester identified as Park was also taken into custody, while six were taken in for questioning.

As the authorities removed protesters from the three sites, some of the residents holding up at other sites prepared to resist removal by chaining themselves to each other inside a large hole in the ground.

As for the Korea Electric Power Corp., the company sent out workers to place fences around the areas to prevent protesters from reoccupying the towers’ construction sites.

The project was approved by the government in November 2007 to link the Shin-Kori nuclear power plant in Ulsan to a substation in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, through a 765-kilovolt transmission line across 90.5 kilometers with 161 towers.

The locals have protested the project since it began, and two have committed suicide to further their cause.

Of the 161 towers, 109 have been completed while construction on five has been delayed. Of the total, 52 towers are located in the Miryang area. Since work resumed in October, 47 towers have been completed.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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