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How North Korea hype helped South Korea’s pro-peace Moon

South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, cannot rely on his resounding election victory for long. Analyst Sven Schwersensky tells DW that Moon has to deliver on difficult issues, both domestically and regionally. DW: It wasn't a surprise that Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party won the South Korean presidential election, but the margin with which he defeated other candidates was quite big. Did you expect the outcome? Sven Schwersensky: The final result was pretty much what the polls had predicted, but what came as a surprise was that the second in race from former President Park Geun-hye's party, Hong Joon Pyo, lost by a significant margin. This was not expected by many in South Korea. One noticeable thing in the election was that about 30 percent of voters cast a blank ballot. This, in my opinion, was a protest by a large number of conservative voters who showed their mistrust to all presidential candidates. It also shows that Moon now has a very important task to perform, most importantly to work for social cohesion to overcome deep divisions and polarization in the country. This is going to be a huge but essential task. An important step in this regard will be constitutional reforms, which Moon said he would strive for and make a preliminary decision on it next year. South Korea is facing a number of crises. The unemployment is growing, the income gap is expanding, corruption is on the rise, and then there is a worsening conflict with North Korea. How can Moon deal with so many issues? Unlike his predecessors, Moon was sworn in immediately after the polls. He has already taken some steps to address the issues. He has ordered the setting up of a job creation committee. Moon promised during his election campaign that he would create 170,000 new jobs in the public sector alone and a total of more than 800,000 jobs over the five years of his presidential term. How difficult will it be for the new president to regain public confidence in the government? Moon needs to establish a different form of political communication, both with parliament and the people. After his victory, he held meetings with the leaders of all political parties represented in parliament and offered them his cooperation. These were short meetings but they show that the new president wants to work together with everyone. Moon says he wants to start a dialogue with North Korea, building on the approach of his mentor and former President Roh. He also said he was willing to visit Pyongyang under favorable conditions. How do you expect Moon to deal with the crisis unfolding on the Korean Peninsula? With the appointments of the secretary of the union and the prime minister, Moon has signaled that he wants to proceed very quickly on his election promises regarding North Korea. At the same time, however, Moon has made it clear that he is aware of the fact that the stringent international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang are necessary. I think the new South Korean president would like to resume talks on the reopening of Kaesong and, perhaps he will initiate other joint economic projects with the North. It will be beneficial for South Korea's economy. To what extent has the conflict with North Korea affected the election result? It is always the case that the conservative camp plays up the fear of a possible North Korean attack and the liberal bloc advocates peace and tries to convince the people that the conflict with Pyongyang cannot be resolved through military means. This time too, the same question dominated the election campaign. Moon, however, has apparently benefited from the North Korea issue, because the conservatives, as well as the United States, overstated the topic. In his election campaign, Moon hinted that he wanted South Korea to rely less on the United States. What will it mean for the US-South Korea relations and, significantly for the future of the US' deployment of the THAAD missile defense system? I think Moon would want a more self-assertive role for South Korea in its dealing with the US. The missile defense system was an important topic in the last phase of the election campaign when US President Donald Trump and his security adviser pointed that Seoul must fund THAAD completely or at least jointly, like other security measures. The Moon administration will also focus on improving ties with China. Nevertheless, whether it will get South Korea any concessions on the missile defense system is unclear. Sven Schwersensky is the country representative for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Seoul. The interview was conducted by Esther Felden.

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, cannot rely on his resounding election victory for long. Analyst Sven Schwersensky tells DW that Moon has to deliver on difficult issues, both domestically and regionally. DW: It wasn’t a surprise that Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party won the South Korean presidential election, but the margin with which he defeated other candidates was ... Read More »

May Day protests kick off in Berlin

Every year tens of thousands of left-wing demonstrators hit the streets of Berlin in often violent protests. This year is the 30th anniversary of the original protests and police are taking no chances. Berlin was bracing itself on Monday for traditional May Day protests on the 30th anniversary of widespread violence. In 1987, far-left rioters battled with police for 12 hours, looting shops and burning cars. They were fighting against what they called a "bourgeois" celebration of the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin. Rioting on May 1 then became a regular tradition in Berlin, starting in West Berlin and spreading to the East following reunification in 1990. In 1989 protests 364 police officers were injured. In 2000 the extent of the violence led to an attempted ban on protests the following year. In 2009 after a few years of relative calm, 273 police were injured with some rioters facing attempted murder charges for throwing Molotov cocktails. Tens of thousands celebrate Witches Night Young leftist groups in Berlin often use the night night before May Day, known as Walpurgisnacht or Witches' Night - a pagan ritual to usher in spring - to go on violent, often drunken rampages through Prenzlauer Berg. This year, as in the past several years, Walpurgisnacht was relatively calm, which police saw as a hopeful omen for May Day proper. However, the fire brigade attended to several car burnings through the night. About 12,000 people descended on Prenzlauer Berg's Mauerpark on Sunday night, but police said there relatively few incidents. In the district of Wedding about 3,000 people demonstrated against rising rents, largely without issue - just three demonstrators were arrested. More than 20 demos More than 20 large-scale events were planned for May 1 throughout Berlin, though police were focusing their efforts on the main "Revolutionary May Demo" event. Organizers of the event refused to register their protest with police, normally a requirement in Germany, but police said they would nonetheless tolerate the protest and would deploy about 5,400 officers. Their planned route for the parade would go through the heart of Kreuzberg street festival MyFest, which could make policing the event difficult. Police were implementing a truck ban in areas of Kreuzberg, fearing a possible repeat of the December terrorist attack, but did not erect concrete barriers. Early rallies on Monday got off to a peaceful start. From about 10am trade unionists started marching for workers rights in Berlin, joined by Berlin mayor Michael Müller. According to union figures about 14,000 showed up. About 200 Antifa protesters turned up to a counter-rally against a right-wing Alternative for Germany party rally. Police called in extra reinforcements at about 1pm to deal the tense situation, local media reported. Myfest kicked off 10am and was attracting tens of thousands of people. They had concerts across seven stages planned and hundreds of food stalls. The main cause for concern there were the high winds which were battering Berlin.

Every year tens of thousands of left-wing demonstrators hit the streets of Berlin in often violent protests. This year is the 30th anniversary of the original protests and police are taking no chances. Berlin was bracing itself on Monday for traditional May Day protests on the 30th anniversary of widespread violence. In 1987, far-left rioters battled with police for 12 ... Read More »

Protesters in Britain demonstrate against Trump immigration policy

Several thousand people have protested in the UK against a US travel ban that affects several Muslim-majority nations. Critics see the ban as inflaming religious tensions and violating international laws on refugees. Thousands of people on Saturday heeded a call from rights groups and Muslim organizations in Britain to protest outside the US Embassy in London against President Trump's executive order suspending travel to the US from several Muslim-majority countries. Protesters held banners bearing slogans such as "No to Trump, No to War" and "Trump: Special Relationship? Just say no." The protest is taking place the day after a US judge temporarily suspended the order, saying the order had caused "immediate and irreparable injury." It is the third protest addressing various aspects of Trump's presidency to have taken place in the British capital in two weeks. A similar protest was to take place on Saturday afternoon before the US embassy in the Germany capital, Berlin. Trump, on Saturday, criticized a "so-called judge" for suspending the ban saying it was "ridiculous" and would be overturned. Anti-Muslim order? The executive order signed by Trump suspended entry to the United States to people traveling from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen - for 90 days, as well as putting a temporary halt to the entire US refugee program.The administration said the move is designed to combat terrorism. The US State Department on Friday said that 60,000 visas had been revoked following Trump's order, after media reports quoted government lawyers as saying that more than 100,000 people had been affected. Critics of the order say that the ban has separated families, harmed thousands of US residents and goes against international law on taking in refugees fleeing conflict. Rights groups have also warned that the move could heighten religious tension and encourage Islamophobia. Australian protests The order also brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets in Australia on Saturday, with protesters coupling their outrage at Trump's move with calls for Australia to close its offshore processing centers on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Australia's hardline refugee policy, which denies asylum to anybody attempting to enter the country by boat, has been slammed by rights groups, and the United Nations have called for the offshore centers to be shut amid allegations of violence, sexual assualt, degrading treatment and self-harm. The protests in Australia come following a diplomatic spat between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with Trump calling a deal between the two nations struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, "dumb." The deal is to see the United States taking up to 1,250 asylum-seekers held on Nauru and Manus to enable Canberra to stick to its "no boat" policy. In return, Australia would take in refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Trump later said he planned to stand by the agreement, which has been widely criticized in Australia. Student rallies against Trump's immigration policy were also held in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and outside the US embassy in the Philippine capital, Manila.

Several thousand people have protested in the UK against a US travel ban that affects several Muslim-majority nations. Critics see the ban as inflaming religious tensions and violating international laws on refugees. Thousands of people on Saturday heeded a call from rights groups and Muslim organizations in Britain to protest outside the US Embassy in London against President Trump’s executive ... Read More »

Obama ‘heartened’ by protests against US travel ban

Former US President Barack Obama has criticized the travel ban policy of his successor, Donald Trump. It comes as Washington's attorney general filed a lawsuit against the executive order, labeling it unconstitutional. Former US President Barack Obama on Monday added his voice to a myriad of American figures criticizing President Donald Trump's executive order, banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending refugee resettlement in the country indefinitely. Obama "fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discrimination against individuals because of their faith or religion," the former president's spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement. Lewis noted that Obama was "heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities across the country" after thousands across the US and abroad protested against the executive order. "Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake," he added. The former president also rejected Trump's claims that his travel ban resembled what Obama did in 2011, when he banned visas for Iraqi refugees for six months. Obama's statement marks the first of its kind since he left office less than two weeks ago. Since then, hundreds of demonstrations have emerged across the country to protest Trump's executive orders, whether barring refugees from entering the country or building a wall on the US-Mexico border. 'No one is above the law' Meanwhile, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit challenging the executive order as illegal and unconstitutional. "No one is above the law - not even the president," Ferguson told a press briefing. "And in the courtroom, it is not the loudest voice that prevails. It's the constitution." While at least federal judges have moved to halt deportations, the White House has remained steadfast in its resolution that the travel ban will remain active. However, Ferguson's complaint argued that the travel ban was separating and harming families "and undermining Washington's sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for migrants and refugees." "Never has our system of checks and balances been more important," said Washington state Governor Jay Inslee at the press conference. "Until Congress takes this administration to task for the obvious moral and legal injuries suffered by innocent, law-abiding people entering our country, it is up to states to protect and promote the rights of the people who reside in our borders," he added. Major companies based in Washington, including Microsoft and Amazon, have provided information to Ferguson detailing the impact the ban would have on their business. "We'd be happy to testify further if needed," said a Microsoft spokesman.

Former US President Barack Obama has criticized the travel ban policy of his successor, Donald Trump. It comes as Washington’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the executive order, labeling it unconstitutional. Former US President Barack Obama on Monday added his voice to a myriad of American figures criticizing President Donald Trump’s executive order, banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries ... Read More »

Charlotte police shooting: ‘State of emergency’ declared after violence

There are conflicting reports about the shooting, which happened during a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse angry demonstrators. Charlotte city officials confirmed that a man suffered gunshot wounds during Wednesday evening's protests, and was on life support and in a critical condition. They contradicted an earlier report that the man had died from the shooting incident, which happened when a peaceful rally against the fatal police shooting of a black man on Tuesday turned violent. Police officials said the latest shooting victim had not been wounded by a police officer. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory later declared a state of emergency in Charlotte due to the unrest, a statement from his office said. Wednesday's protest got out of control after several hundred demonstrators approached a downtown intersection and began to surround and taunt groups of police and their patrol cars. Some protesters banged on glass windows, others threw objects at police and stood on cars as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, prompting demonstrators to run. Protesters were also seen looting a convenience store after smashing its windows. Seven law-enforcement officers and one civilian were also taken to hospital for injuries sustained during the protests, city council official Kenny Smith said. Outrage in black community The trigger for the violence was the killing of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday, who was shot dead in an apartment complex car park. The 43-year-old had been stopped by officers searching for a suspect. Police said Scott was armed and ignoring officers' orders when he was gunned down, while the victim's family and a witness said he was holding a book, not a weapon. Within hours of his killing, protesters had taken to the streets, clashing with police in riot gear. Sixteen officers were injured late on Tuesday and early Wednesday. Authorities have not released any video of the incident, but the city's mayor said they plan to do so. A string of fatal police shootings in recent months - from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to St. Paul, Minnesota - has left many Americans demanding law enforcement reforms and greater accountability.

There are conflicting reports about the shooting, which happened during a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse angry demonstrators. Charlotte city officials confirmed that a man suffered gunshot wounds during Wednesday evening’s protests, and was on life support and in a critical condition. They contradicted an earlier report that ... Read More »

Gunmen surrender in Armenia police station siege

Police have arrested 20 "terrorists" after gunmen who occupied a police station in the Armenian capital surrendered. The armed group called for a jailed opposition leader to be released and for the president to resign. A group of anti-government gunmen surrendered to police on Sunday after occupying a police station in the Armenian capital of Yerevan for two weeks. "The security forces' anti-terrorist operation has ended and led to the members of the armed group laying down their weapons and surrendering to the authorities," Armenia's security services said. "Twenty terrorists were arrested." Earlier Sunday, an Armenian website published a statement reportedly made by a member of the group preempting the gunmen's surrender. "We will continue our struggle from prison. We believe that we have achieved our goal: we became the spark that allowed people to rise up and it makes no sense to spill blood," Varuzhan Avetisyan, a leading member of the group, was quoted as saying. Call for president to resign The group's surrender ended a weeks-long occupation of the police station, which began when the gunmen stormed the station on July 17, killing an officer and taking several hostages. The gunmen called for jailed opposition leader Jirair Sefilian to be released and demanded the resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. The occupation prompted mass pro-opposition protests in the capital. Police on Friday used truncheons, stun grenades and smoke bombs to disperse crowds, leaving more than 70 people injured. A police officer was killed by sniper fire on Saturday, and authorities have blamed the gunmen. However, the group has denied any involvement with the shooting.

Police have arrested 20 “terrorists” after gunmen who occupied a police station in the Armenian capital surrendered. The armed group called for a jailed opposition leader to be released and for the president to resign. A group of anti-government gunmen surrendered to police on Sunday after occupying a police station in the Armenian capital of Yerevan for two weeks. “The ... Read More »

Baton Rouge protesters resume demonstrations against police violence

Despite overnight clashes that resulted in 30 arrests, demonstrators refused to back down in Louisiana. Hundreds gathered outside the shop where 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot by white officers earlier this week. Hundreds of protesters continued their series of demonstrations on Saturday outside the store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where African-American Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police. The protests outside the Triple S convenience store continued despite a tense standoff the night before that saw 30 people arrested. Other protesters in Baton Rouge headed to the city's police department to continue the demonstration. Many carried signs or wore T-shirts with messages like the well-known "Black Lives Matter" or "I can't keep calm, I have a black son." "I've been active in the community for years. We have been suffering police brutality for a long time. A lot of racism has been going on here for a long time," said local activist Lael Montgomery. "I have kids. They need to be raised in a better environment than they're in." Communities demand end to police brutality Alton Sterling's death at the hands of two white police officers gained widespread attention after it was captured on a cellphone video. One officer can be heard shouting, "He's going for the gun!" Sterling was allegedly carrying a firearm in his pocket, though in the video he is already pinned to the ground. One of the officers involved in his death had previously been on forced leave from duty after a previous shooting of an African-American male. Sterling's death came just one day before that of Philando Castile, a black man who was shot during a traffic stop in Minnesota as he was reaching for his driver's license. The two men's deaths reignited the long-simmering debate about police brutality in America, which came to yet another violent head on Thursday when a peaceful protest in Dallas was disrupted by a sniper who shot dead five police officers and wounded several others. The gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, was killed in a standoff, but reportedly told authorities before that he was motivated by revenge for police violence against African Americans. The Baton Rouge protests were joined by solidarity marches across the US and even as far away as London. Organizers have said they plan to continue their demonstrations into Sunday, including a march from City Hall to the state Capitol.

Despite overnight clashes that resulted in 30 arrests, demonstrators refused to back down in Louisiana. Hundreds gathered outside the shop where 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot by white officers earlier this week. Hundreds of protesters continued their series of demonstrations on Saturday outside the store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where African-American Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police. The ... Read More »

Brazil’s Supreme Court to weigh in on political crisis

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has appealed to the Supreme Court to annul a ruling blocking his cabinet appointment. The unfolding political crisis continues to polarize the country. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lodged an appeal Sunday to the country's highest court to overturn a ruling preventing his appointment as cabinet chief. Last week, a judge barred Silva from his appointment as chief of staff to his successor President Dilma Rousseff over suspicions that he sought out the post to escape arrest in a corruption investigation involving state oil company Petrobras. The Lula Institute, Silva's personal foundation, lashed out at that ruling and what it called a "series of arbitrary actions" by the judiciary. "Lula is not accused of any crime, even after an absolutely invasive investigation and the intimidation he has been subjected to in recent months," it said in a statement. The head of the probe investigating the Petrobras scandal barred Silva's appointment to the cabinet on Friday. As evidence in his ruling, the judge cited a tapped phone call between Rousseff and Silva in which the two discussed his cabinet appointment as a tactic to shield him from prosecution by granting ministerial immunity. Scandals threaten to taint Rousseff, Silva Dogged by an economic recession, a widening corruption scandal, impeachment proceedings and massive protests, Rousseff may not survive her second term. A poll published Sunday showed that out of nearly 2,800 respondents, 68 percent support impeachment of Rousseff. That's up 8 points since last month. Silva, who stepped down in 2011, denies money laundering charges and has accused opponents of trying to stage a "coup" against Rousseff. The ensuing scandal has brought large numbers of pro- and anti-government demonstrators into the streets in recent days.

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has appealed to the Supreme Court to annul a ruling blocking his cabinet appointment. The unfolding political crisis continues to polarize the country. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lodged an appeal Sunday to the country’s highest court to overturn a ruling preventing his appointment as cabinet chief. Last week, a judge barred ... Read More »

Brazil’s Rousseff on the edge as protesters demand her resignation

Anger against Brazilian President Rousseff is mounting as hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across the country, demanding her resignation. A massive corruption scandal has shaken the government. Draped in yellow and green national flags, thousands of people chanted "Dilma out!" on Sunday in the latest wave of country-wide anti-government rallies. The South American leftist leader is facing a giant corruption scandal and is struggling to pull the country out of an unprecedented economic crisis. Dilma Rousseff denies involvement in an embezzlement and bribery scandal dealing with state oil company Petrobras. A bid to impeach her in Congress has stalled but it is likely to restart due to the pressure from opposition groups and street protests. Rousseff's key coalition partner, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB) has threatened to leave the government. The protests, which lost momentum last year, have once against gained strength as a corruption investigation nears the president's inner circle. To add to Rousseff's woes, her mentor - the ex-president Lula da Silva - was questioned by federal police over allegations that he benefited from the Petrobras kickbacks. 'A decisive moment' "We are at a decisive moment for our country. We are going to start the change now," said Rogerio Chequer, leader of Vem Pra Rua, one of the organizers of the anti-Rousseff demonstrations. Some 100,000 people gathered in Brasilia and over 200,000 in Rio de Janerio on Sunday, according to rally organizers and media. Anti-government protesters took to the streets in some 400 cities across Brazil. "I came (to the rally) because I am tired to seeing so much corruption, and because I want to end the disorder that has taken over this country," Rosilene Feitosa, a 61-year-old woman, told the AFP news agency. The president appealed to the protesters to remain calm and criticized the opposition graffiti attack against her Worker's Party's student union offices in Sao Paulo. Rousseff is the latest leftist leader in Latin America to face mass protests as a decade-long economic boom in the continent comes to an abrupt end.

Anger against Brazilian President Rousseff is mounting as hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across the country, demanding her resignation. A massive corruption scandal has shaken the government. Draped in yellow and green national flags, thousands of people chanted “Dilma out!” on Sunday in the latest wave of country-wide anti-government rallies. The South American leftist leader ... Read More »

Deadly police shooting sparks Egypt protests

A police officer has killed a young taxi driver "by mistake," according to Egypt's Interior Ministry. The incident comes amid increasingly frequent protests against police excesses, a key contributor to 2011's uprising. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Cairo's security directorate on Thursday night after a police officer dressed in civilian clothes shot and killed a 24-year-old taxi driver. "Hundreds marched from Cairo's security directorate to Ahmed Maher Hospital, where the corpse of a young Mohamed Ali - a victim of police - is [located]," Omar Elhady, an Egyptian journalist, wrote in a tweet accompanied by a video of the demonstration. Mohamed Ali, known as "Darbaka," was shot by the police officer "by mistake," according to the Egyptian Interior Ministry. "A low-ranking policeman was accompanying his relative to buy some goods and when both were uploading goods to a taxi, they had a fight with the taxi driver," said Cairo's security directorate, according to the state-owned al-Ahram news site. "The policeman pulled out his gun to end the fight but a bullet came out by mistake, killing the taxi driver," the Interior Ministry's statement added. 'Shot him in the head' Reports differ as to whether the officer was apprehended, with some local news sites suggesting he may have been killed by the neighborhood's residents who witnessed the altercation. "He took out his weapon and loaded it," a local resident told Egypt's independent news site Mada Masr. "We intervened to restrain him and tried to break up the fight, but he was able to break loose and immediately shot him in the head." Last week, thousands of doctors gathered in protest of police who beat two doctors for refusing to falsify medical records. The protests come as Italian officials announced that an autopsy of graduate student Giulio Regeni's body showed signs of torture, including electrocution. Activists said Regeni's injuries had the hallmarks of Egyptian security services. In January 2011, millions took to the streets of Cairo and other cities across Egypt to protest police excesses under former President Hosni Mubarak's regime, resulting in his ouster.

A police officer has killed a young taxi driver “by mistake,” according to Egypt’s Interior Ministry. The incident comes amid increasingly frequent protests against police excesses, a key contributor to 2011’s uprising. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Cairo’s security directorate on Thursday night after a police officer dressed in civilian clothes shot and killed a 24-year-old taxi driver. “Hundreds ... Read More »

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