News / Asia

Surviving Children of S. Korea Ferry Disaster March to Pursue Full Inquiry

South Koreans march towards the National Assembly at Yeouido Park in Seoul, caring signatures of petitions for the enactment of a special law after the ferry disaster, July 15, 2014.
South Koreans march towards the National Assembly at Yeouido Park in Seoul, caring signatures of petitions for the enactment of a special law after the ferry disaster, July 15, 2014.
Reuters

Teenage survivors of South Korea's worst maritime disaster in 20 years, many wearing yellow bracelets, walked out of classrooms on Tuesday and marched on parliament to demand enabling  legislation for a inquiry into the more than 300 deaths.

More than half of the 75 children rescued from the ferry Sewol that capsized and sank on April 16 joined growing public calls for parliament to pass a special bill for an independent inquiry sought by victims' families. More than 3.5 million signatures have been collected to demand its passage.

“The entire nation saw it on April 16. We ask that the truth behind the unfair deaths our friends suffered be told,” said a bespectacled boy taking part, who asked not to be identified.

“We don't know much about the law, but if we don't do this there is nothing we can do, so we ask that our wish is met.”

Of the 476 passengers and crew, 339 were children and teachers from Danwon Highschool on the outskirts of Seoul. Only 172 people were rescued and the rest are presumed to have drowned.

The children passed though the school's stone gates and down a boulevard, mostly in silence.

Many wore the bracelets emblazoned with “Remember 0416” or sashes and kerchiefs made out of yellow pieces of cloth - the color chosen to express dissatisfaction with the authorities' handling of the disaster.

Other marchers carried yellow flags. One sign read: “Shed light on our friends' unfair deaths.”

“Our children are marching with their pure hearts to console parents of their friends and ask to find the truth of the disaster,” said Oh Ji-yeon, the father of one survivor.

The children made their way to a small park where 15 relatives of  victims were undertaking the second day of a hunger strike to press for the bill. Marchers set up displays of yellow paper boats to draw attention to the strikers.

Boxes of signatures

Nearby, organizers set up neat rows of boxes, covered in yellow paper, each containing some of the 3.5 million signatures backing the petition to parliament. Several dozen adults had earlier marched to the site carrying yellow umbrellas.

The Sewol's 15 surviving crew members, including the captain, are on trial on charges ranging from homicide to negligence. Security forces have been engaged in a manhunt for more than two months for the head of the family that owns the holding company of the ferry operator.

Families of the victims and survivors say too little is being done to establish the truth about what led to the disaster on a routine journey to the holiday island of Jeju.

The special law demanded by the petitioners would ensure their participation in an independent probe into the sinking. The families have demanded the right to name half the experts from the independent team to pursue the inquiry.

Parliament has agreed to consider the bill, but is split on legal grounds over whether to grant the group investigative authority. Investigators have established that the Sewol was overloaded and traveling too fast on a turn when it sank.

President Park Geun-hye's government has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster and the sluggish rescue operation. Her prime minister resigned but was reinstated after two failed attempts to find a replacement.  

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid