So far about 900 South Koreans have joined the families of the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster in their hunger strike staged in central Seoul, demanding the parliament to pass a special bill setting up an independent inquiry into the disaster.
The Sewol ferry sank on April 16 off the southern coast of South Korea, killing over 300 passengers most of which were high school students on a field trip. The parents of the students and other onlookers had to watch helplessly while the children were trapped in the capsized ship fighting for their lives.
The captain and the crew deserted the ship telling passengers to stay put and to wait for rescue efforts. The government and the Coast Guard have been accused of botched rescue operations in which not a single living child had been rescued off the ship.
Grieving families of the victims have pleaded for the truth to be released chronicling how the accident happened and why the rescue operations failed so miserably. However, little has been done by the government in such efforts even now after almost 4 months from the disaster.
The ruling party, the main opposition party, and the families have agreed in principle to establish a special investigative commission into the tragedy, however they have been divided on some critical details. The families want the commission to have the authority to subpoena anyone with relevant information and to prosecute whoever is found to be guilty. The ruling party is against this request.
A few days ago, both leaders from the ruling party and the main opposition party met to negotiate the details of the bill and, as a result, they announced they had reached an agreement. However, the families and the public were dismayed to find out that the agreement had hardly reflected the families’ demands.
This has brought anger and unrest amongst the people and caused even more people to participate in the hunger strike along with the families to show support to those who are going through this ordeal, averaging about 150 people fasting together on a daily basis.
There are Catholic priests, nuns, Buddhist monks, Protestant ministers, a famous singer, well-known movie makers, as well as ordinary citizens, totaling about 900 people so far who have been participating in the hunger strike. People fear some families may end up dying in the end, even going without drinking water.
All they want is the truth to come out about why the accident happened and how this turned into such a disaster, so that something like this will not happen again in the future. The families deserve to know what happened to their children. This is the least they can do for their helplessly perished kids.
By oglim | CNNiReport
Photo credits: First picture by Catholic News. Second picture by upublic.co.kr. Third picture by @hee1025w Twitter.