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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora