11/29/2013, 00.00
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Protestants raise the stake by calling on Park to resign

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
A committee representing Protestant Churches opposed to interference by the secret services criticises the government for its attacks against a Catholic priest, Fr Park Chang-shin, calling on the president to take a step back before it is too late.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - In a public statement, South Korea's Protestant Churches have called on South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step back and resign so that violations by the National Intelligence Service in the last presidential election can be vetted. In doing this, they join the country's Catholics and Buddhists who are united against government interference in the country's public life.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service has been accused of tampering with this year's presidential election. The country's main religions have joined a pro-democracy campaign launched a few months ago by South Korean Catholics, calling on the government to uphold "truth and justice".

South Korean leaders lashed out at Fr Park Chang-shin, accusing of being an "enemy of the nation". Eventually, an investigation was launched against him on "various criminal charges."

For Seoul Archbishop Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Catholics "must be involved in politics" but he urged priests and consecrated people to act "upon careful consideration," without direct involvement.

In recent days, the situation has become more tense. A bomb scare forced the archdiocese to close Myeongdong Cathedral a few days ago, then a group of protesters stormed the site, prompting police to deploy agents to "protect" it.

Two days ago, Seoul saw about a thousand Buddhist monks take to the streets to protest, with police detaining two of them.

Yesterday, South Korea's Protestant Churches added their voice with a statement issued by the Christian Joint Measures Committee for the National Intelligence Service's Election Interference.

"Instead of revealing the truth about state institutions' interference in the presidential election and prosecuting those responsible, the current administration [has] tried to cover it up by forcing out the prosecutor-general and the prosecutors involved in the investigation, and by repressing critics by accusing them of being pro-North Korea," read the communiqué, adding that "Behavior of this sort is reminiscent of the government repression during the Yushin dictatorship 30 years ago".

The Yushin dictatorship refers to the period when South Korea was ruled with an iron fist by President Park Geun-hye's father, Park Chung-hee.

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