Leader of disability rights protests arrested on illegal demonstration charges

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- The leader of a disability rights advocacy group who led yearslong rush-hour subway protests was arrested Friday on charges of illegal demonstrations.

Police apprehended Park Kyoung-seok, the 63-year-old leader of the Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination (SADD), for investigation in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency headquarters in central Seoul where he was holding a press conference.

The arrest came one day after police had an arrest warrant issued against Park on charges of illegally occupying roads and obstructing subway services while staging a series of protest rallies in the two years until January this year at major subway stations in Seoul.

Demanding an increased budget for people with disability and their mobility rights, SADD has staged protests at major subway stations in central Seoul on and off, where wheelchair-bound activists repeatedly boarded and disembarked trains, disrupting metro services during the morning rush hour.

Park had been summoned for questioning for a total of 18 times so far, but refused to show up before police, prompting the police to seek a warrant from a court to arrest him.

In a show of protest, Park put himself inside a cage with prison chains around his neck during the press conference, saying disabled people should have the same rights as others.

"We have not committed any irregularities ... I will go with them and ask them how the constitutionally guaranteed rights not to be discriminated against can be ensured," Park said ahead of his arrest.

Police mobilized a special bus with a wheelchair lift to move Park, who has a physical disability.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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