South Korea monks warn police against temple raid for wanted activist

A standoff over a wanted labour activist holed up in Seoul`s top Buddhist temple intensified Wednesday, with monks warning that a threatened police raid would be an act of religious persecution.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 09, 2015, 10:28 AM IST

Seoul: A standoff over a wanted labour activist holed up in Seoul`s top Buddhist temple intensified Wednesday, with monks warning that a threatened police raid would be an act of religious persecution.

Han Sang-Gyun, the head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, sought sanctuary in the Jogye Temple in downtown Seoul following a massive anti-government demonstration on November 14.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for Han, accusing him of inciting violence during the protest that saw numerous clashes between protesters and security forces.

At Han`s request, the Jogye Order -- South Korea`s leading Buddhist organisation -- has been mediating with the government ever since he took refuge.

But with no resolution in sight, the country`s top police officer, Kang Sin-Myeong, issued a 24-hour ultimatum, threatening to raid the temple unless Han voluntarily turned himself in by 4:00 pm (0700 GMT) Wednesday.

The Jogye Order, which is the largest Buddhist sect in South Korea with millions of followers, said any such move would be unacceptable. 

"If the police raid the temple, it... will be tantamount to a state clampdown on the Jogye Order and on the whole Buddhist movement in South Korea," the organisation said in a statement. 

"If the police enter the temple... they will be wholly responsible for the consequences of such action," it said, without elaborating.

Hundreds of police were stationed outside the temple ahead of the afternoon deadline.