Police thwart fiery protest amid massive G20 security alert

Last Updated: Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 18:30

Seoul: The tight security measures at the
G20 summit faced their first test on Thursday as several thousand
protesters demonstrated in host city Seoul and a woman tried
to set herself on fire outside the venue.

The middle-aged woman poured paint thinner over herself
outside the main entrance to the summit venue, which is ringed
by two-metre high fences, but police stopped her from lighting
the liquid, a news agency reporter saw.

Police detained the woman but said her motive was
unclear.

Other local and foreign activists who see the Group of 20
advanced and emerging economies as a tool of the rich rallied
in central Seoul in the afternoon, but turnout was lower than
expected.

Organisers had hoped for 10,000 people but said some
3,000 showed up at the plaza outside Seoul railway station.
Police put the number at around 2,500.

"We oppose the G20, which brings greater pain to workers
and poor people," activist Lee Tae-Ho said from a stage
bearing slogans such as "G20, stop making people pay for the
crisis".

A mock funeral procession was staged to represent the
pain of farmers and workers.

"We oppose the G20 summit because it does not reflect the
opinions of workers and poor people," said Joung Ei-Hun, first
vice-president of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade
Unions.

"We oppose the G20, which only speaks for the interests
of corporations."

Protesters then tried to march to the National Museum,
where a welcome dinner for the leaders was being held.

But hundreds of riot police with shields, backed up by
armoured vehicles, blocked them when they were two kilometres
away. No violence or arrests were reported.

South Korea, hosting its largest-ever diplomatic
gathering, has mobilised 50,000 police nationwide and passed a
special law restricting protests in areas close to the
leaders.
Leaders of the country, which built an economic miracle
on the ruins of the 1950-53 Korean War, see the summit as a
kind of coming-of-age party.

Huge banners celebrating the event adorn buildings.
Streets and pavements in the capital city of 10 million have
been resurfaced and floral baskets line the roads.

Seoul`s mayor Oh Se-Hoon along with thousands of public
servants has swept the city`s streets, TV audiences have been
snowed under with special programmes and school children have
even been given homework on the summit agenda.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 18:30

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