Bruce Gagnon & Sung-Hee Choi / Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space & All Voices – 2010-12-28 19:00:49
US Navy Displacing Heartbroken South Korean Villagers
Guest post by Bruce Gagnon & Sung-Hee Choi / All Voices.com
HAENAM, South Korea (December 27, 2010) — As I write this, the people of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea are in the midst of the fight of their lives. It is today that they face down the Navy and the plans to destroy their sacred coastline for the Navy base where US Aegis destroyers (built here in Bath, Maine) will be ported.
As I write this they might be sitting in the road trying to block the construction machinery from beginning work. They might be getting arrested in large numbers. They are so isolated and few around the world know anything of their struggle to save the rocks, the water, the coral, the fish and their way of life.
On Christmas day a Catholic mass was held for the villagers along the rocky coastline by the Bishop of Jeju Island. Below is the latest report we got from Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi who has been at the village for the last couple of weeks standing with the people and helping to spread word about their fight to others in Korea and around the world:
In the Joongduk coast – the planned naval base area – snowflakes fell onto the beautiful coast rocks and sea, as well, displaying a mysterious view as the sea horizon became clouded. It was a terrible feeling to think that the most beautiful rocks and sea in the Jeju Island might be covered with concrete if the naval base construction is enforced.
At 3:00 pm, there was a peace mass, called, â€˜the Christmas missal to save life and peace of the Jeju Island,â€™ lead by Fr. Kang Woo-Il, Chairman of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Korea & the Bishop of the Catholic Jeju district, along with many fathers and nuns in the Jeju island. The event was hosted by the Special Committee for the Island of Peace, Catholic Jeju district. About 400~500 followers and Gangjeong villagers gathered and represented their will to save the Jeju island of Peace from the naval base construction.
Bishop Kang Woo-Il led the mass and said, “Military base cannot save peace and life” and that he “would be together with the lonely and oppressed Gangjeong villagers.”
The least we can do is to let others know about this terrible moment so that the valiant struggle of the Gangjeong villagers is not done without the world knowing about it. Please pass on word about this and also call the South Korean embassy in your country and protest the construction of the Navy base for US warships on Jeju Island.
As you can see in the small yellow signs being held by the people in the crowd that read “No War” the villagers understand that construction of this Navy base, so close to China’s coastline, is a wildly provocative move in the US military strategy to surround China. It will only bring more conflict to their part of the world.
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, published this today (12/27/2010) on his blog Organizing Notes. His first person opinion column is reprinted with his permission.
Resistance Begins on Jeju Island
Bruce Gagnon / Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
See Jeju Island Resistance Photo Gallery
(December 27, 2010) — I’ve not yet heard from Sung-Hee Choi yet, she might have been arrested for all I know.
It is obvious that the Navy has pushed through with their cement trucks and will now begin to pour concrete over the sea life that lives among the rocks along the coastline of the Gangjeong village.
All of this in order to build a Navy base that is needed as the US Navy builds more ships and deploys them in the region. Maine’s Sen. Olympia Snowe (Republican) has said over and over again to the media in our state that more Navy ships are needed to “protect” against China’s expanding power. There can be now doubt that this base has nothing to do with North Korea.
It is all about projecting power toward China in order to block their ability to import oil on ships along the waterway between Jeju Island and mainland China. The Chinese import 80% of their oil via this sea route and if the US can successfully “choke off” their ability to transport oil then the US, who can’t compete with China’s growing economy, would be able to still hold the “keys” to their economic engine.
It is hardball politics that the US is playing here in this expensive and dangerous game. The people on Jeju Island, sadly enough, are just pawns in the way of imperial designs.
Protests Move to Jeju City
Bruce K. Gagnon
(December 28, 2010) — The protests against the Navy base on Jeju Island (in the Gangjeong village) moved to the biggest city on the island today — Jeju City — as activists attempted to set up an encampment vigil outside the Island assembly building. (You should remember that Korea is about 13 hours ahead of us in time.)
Sung-Hee Choi reports from Jeju Island:
Yesterday, while I was in the village, the Pan Island Committeee Against the Military Base confronted the Jeju City authorities and police as the city did not allow the activists’ tent vigil in front of the Island assembly. One member was arrested and two women — of whom, one was greatly wounded in her face — were carried to the hospital.
Otherwise, the Lee Myung bak [right-wing] national government announced on Dec. 27 that it would manage 10 ports as the governmental management port including Gangjeong (Civilian-military complex), Hwasoon (maritime police port) in the Jeju island, and Chuja Island in the southern part, near the Jeju Island. The other two ports will be in the East Sea (Japan Sea) while five ports will be in the western sea. People say the plan must be against China.
Bruce K. Gagnon is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011. (207) 443-9502