which is made in South Korea and exported to Turkey and other countries.
By Lee Jung-gook and Ahn Soo-chan, staff reporters
Controversy has erupted after it was revealed that the tear gas used in Turkey to suppress anti-government protestors was manufactured in Korea. The fact came to light because of tear gas canisters that were found recently in Ankara, capital of Turkey. On a label placed on the canisters is written the name of a Korean company, CNO Tech, from Mungyeong in North Gyeongsang Province.
As the photos of the canister spread on Twitter and Facebook, netizens from around the world used internet searches to determine that Daekwang Chemical was the Korean company that had manufactured the tear gas. On its English website, the company claims to be the “only manufacturer of tear gas products in Korea.” The company also said that it exports tear gas to 17 countries around the world, including Turkey.
Following this, netizens from various countries started a campaign to urge Korean companies to stop exporting tear gas. Starting on June 16, messages were passed along and forwarded on Twitter and Facebook stating that the tear gas cartridges used by the Turkish police were of Korean origin and asking for the help of someone who spoke Korean to help block the import of tear gas.
Ultimately, Martin Powell-Davies, a member of the National Executive for the UK National Union of Teachers, sent a letter of protest to Daekwang Chemical. In the letter, Powell-Davies emphasized that the tear gas manufactured by Daekwang Chemical and exported by CNO Tech was resulting in the suffering of citizens of Turkey, “including skull fractures and permanent loss of eyes,” and he asked the company to stop permitting exports of its tear gas to Turkey.
The Turkish protestors, who are protesting their Islamist, authoritarian government, have demanded the discontinuation of the use of tear gas, the resignation of those responsible for violent suppression of the protests, the guarantee of the right of assembly and the right to protest.
“Korea is gaining the disgraceful reputation of a country that exports the tools of violent oppression,” the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) wrote in a June 20 press release. The KCTU urged these companies to stop the production and export of tear gas, since the gas is used in political oppression both inside South Korea and around the world.
“We exported tear gas to Turkey last year after receiving official permission, but we have not exported any to Turkey recently,” said a representative for Daekwang Chemical, who said the company had no further comment.
During the anti-government protests in Turkey, which have lasted three weeks so far, five people have been killed, including one police officer. In addition, around 7,000 people have been injured, with 15 losing their sight. Most of the wounded and dead have been directly struck by tear gas canisters or have been suffocated by the tear gas, several international media reported.
Taksim Square in Istanbul is shrouded in tear gas fired by police on June 11.
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