[Newsmaker] Disability rights group continues subway protests despite leader’s sentence

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[Newsmaker] Disability rights group continues subway protests despite leader’s sentence

Park Kyoung-seok, head of Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, enters the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

A disabled advocacy group continued its daily rush-hour subway protests on Wednesday, criticizing a Seoul court’s decision to hand down a suspended prison sentence to the leader of the group.

Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination members on Wednesday began the protest at Seoul National University of Education Station on Subway Line No. 2. They were scheduled to later move to the National Assembly Station on Subway Line No. 9 and march to the People Power Party’s headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul.

Park Kyoung-seok, head of SADD, said the disabled advocacy group relocated its protest location to Seoul National University of Education Station in an attempt to condemn the Seoul Central District Court‘s decision to give him a suspended prison sentence.

The Seoul Central District Court is located near Seoul National University of Education Station.

“(The protest at Seoul National University of Education Station) condemns the judicial body that does not understand the meaning of mobility rights for the disabled,” Park said, while pleading not guilty.

The court on Tuesday announced its ruling, which sentenced Park to four months in prison, suspended for two years, for organizing unauthorized bus protests and disrupting bus operations during rush hour in April.

The court said in its ruling that the protests caused delays in bus services and caused discomfort to many citizens. The court, however, also noted that Park staged such acts not for his own benefit, but to improve the rights of the disabled.

Regarding the court’s ruling, Park previously said he would “immediately appeal,” and SADD will continue its subway-riding protests until the country‘s political circle introduces solutions to issues involving mobility rights as well as the right to education.

Park is insisting that both the ruling and main opposition parties secure enough spending for disability rights in next year’s budget.

Park noted it has not been determined whether the disabled advocacy group will continue its protests at Seoul National University of Education Station or relocate in the future.

Since last year, SADD has been leading subway protests and asking the government and political parties to provide measures to improve mobility rights and increase the budget for disability rights.

But, as their protests often caused delays in subway operations during rush hour, citizens have expressed displeasure with the group.

By Shim Woo-hyun ([email protected])


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