Families of ferry victims march for early legislation of special law

By 이현정
  • Published : Jul 24, 2014 - 16:42
  • Updated : Jul 24, 2014 - 16:42
Family members of the victims of the Sewol ferry sinking continued their march to the parliamentary building in Seoul for a second day on Thursday to demand the early passage of a special law aimed at determining the cause of the disaster.

A day earlier, some 600 family members and their supporters began the two-day march in Ansan, 42 kilometers south of Seoul. After spending a night in Gwangmyeong, a satellite city of the capital, they resumed the trip early Thursday, arriving at the National Assembly building hours later.

The family members and supporters held yellow banners saying, "Legislation of special law to find truth" and "How can you forget." Ansan is home to Danwon High School, which lost more than 250 students and teachers in the tragedy.

The proposed bill pending at the National Assembly calls for the creation of an inspection team to look into the cause of the April 16 disaster that claimed more than 300 lives.

It, however, has yet to get parliamentary approval due to partisan wrangling over whether to give investigative power to a parliamentary inspection team and other contentious issues.

"This march is aimed at letting the people know that an enactment of a special law on the ferry disaster can be the first step toward making it a safer country," a task force composed of the family members said in a statement released to media before beginning the journey. "We'll not stop this march until the special law that would ensure truth and safety for all is made."

The marchers held a brief ceremony in front of the National Assembly before heading for the public square in front of the Seoul City Hall to attend a poetry reading and concert to mark the 100th day after the disaster in the evening.

The event titled "Remember Your Tears" will feature K-pop singers Kim Jang-hoon and Lee Seung-hwan; pianist Kwon Oh-joon and poets Kang Eun-gyo and Kim Gi-taek. After the memorial event, the family members will finish their march at nearby Gwanghwamun Square, where some of them are on their 11th day of a hunger strike for the law's early legislation.

The 6,825-ton ferry, carrying an estimated 476 people, sank in southwestern waters en route to the southern resort island of Jeju on April 16, leaving 294 dead and 10 others missing. Most of the victims were high school students on a field trip.

In a related move, political and religious circles held their own events to mark the 100th day after the ferry disaster.

A group of Seoul city councilors affiliated with the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy marched toward the National Assembly Thursday afternoon, calling for an early passage of the special law.

The Association of the Korean Buddhist Orders gave a memorial service to comfort the spirit of the Sewol victims at Jogye Temple, the headquarters of the country's largest Buddhist order, Jogye.

Some 500 people, including representatives of families who lost their loved ones in the ferry accident and lawmakers, attended the service.

"A hundred days have passed since the Sewol ferry tragedy happened," Ven. Jaseung, head of the Buddhist order, said during the service. "We honestly hope a special law on the ferry tragedy must be legislated in a way in which a majority of the people can accept," he said.

He stressed the need to make a country where the people's safety is ensured and life precedes any other values in the world by clearly determining the cause of the incident and building a recurrence-prevention system.

The justice and peace committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul was also scheduled to host a memorial Mass for the victims later in the day. (Yonhap)