SEOUL, South Korea — Dozens of activists Monday were commemorating a South Korean farmer who died in a hospital almost a year after being knocked unconscious by water cannons during anti-government protests.
Baek Nam-gi had been at Seoul National University Hospital since he fell and injured his head during the demonstration last November protesting President Park Geun-hye’s labor policies.
The hospital says Baek died Sunday of an acute kidney injury, traumatic cerebral hemorrhage and subdural hemorrhage. Police and prosecutors had sought a warrant to conduct an autopsy to find the exact cause of his death, but a court rejected the request.
Activists say no autopsy is needed because it’s obvious Baek died because of the water cannon.
About 200 activists were at the hospital to commemorate Baek and block authorities if they try again to get a warrant and conduct an autopsy, according Choi Suk-hwan, an official at an association of civic groups that support Baek.
About 300 activists were at the hospital Sunday before the court rejected the warrant. Police sent about 1,500 officers there to maintain order, but no violence was reported.
Labor activists and critics accuse Park’s government of pushing business-friendly policies and infringing upon free speech.
“His death increases the urgent need for the completion of a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force on largely peaceful protesters including Baek Nam-gi himself,” said Amnesty International East Asia Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin.