I am providing a copy of the Jeju Island newsletter below in its entirety. When you have a chance, I advise you to read it slowly and savor all of the information it presents about one of the most valiant ongoing efforts in the global paradigm shift of unending war to world peace, the international struggle to stop construction of a naval base on a sacred island in South Korea.
Read this and you will find out:
- what the rice ball represents in the context of a people's struggle to be free
- how resistance is expressed in peaceful actions
- villagers bowing for peace 1000 times for three days
- traveling candlelight vigil
- U.S.-led war games presently going on in South Korea
- how construction of the military base seriously violates environmental restrictions
- Jesuits continue to celebrate mass in support of the villagers (which they've been doing for 8 weeks now)
- how the people of Okinawa are showing solidarity with the Jeju Islanders
You can subscribe to the English version of the Gangjeong Village newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Created by The Extended International Team of Gangjeong Village
Weekly Appeal for May 20, 2012:
Gwangju in 1980 is Gangjeong in 2012!
No Military Base! Yes, Life and Peace Island!
The “civilian-military dual-use” base is a lie!
Stop the destruction, human rights violations andpro-nuclear MD policy!
“Be aware. Now Gangjeong is Gwangju!” TheHankyoreh newspaper, citing Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon’s words, wrote on May 18: “Gwangju was an isolated island. It was both a metaphor and simile at the sametime. 32 long years have passed. […But] the cry of Islands is not only for May 1980. We have heard cries from the islands of Daechuri, Pyeongtaek; the Ssangyong workers’ strike site; the watch tower of Yongsan, Seoul; and crane No. 85 of Hanjin Heavy Industry, Busan. And in Gangjeong, Jeju! What does it mean that Mun Jeong-Hyeon, ‘the priest of the street’, has been given the 5.18Human Rights award this May? ‘Be aware. Now Gangjeong is Gwangju!’ Fr. MunJeong-Hyeon moans. [..]”
According to Fr. Mun, the spirit of the Gwangju uprising, when hundreds were killed and thousands were wounded by the South Korea military with support from the US government in 1980, is the rice ball, a simple food with which poor people’s street struggles are able to sustain themselves. He hopes democracy, human rights, and peace will be kept through such poor people’s voluntary solidarity.
Meanwhile, the Lee Myung-Bak administration conspires to designate the whole Gangjeong base project area as a military protection zone, while simultaneously continuing to promote the false dual civilian-military port propaganda. At the same time, the annual LIMPAC war exercising between South Korea, the U.S. and other countries are beginning, intensified with the excuse of North Korea’s satellite launch on April 13, which the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, claim was an attempt to test launch a long range nuclear missile.
The villagers, praying for the Peace Island, bowed 1000 times for three days on the cement in front of government hall demanding that the Island governor order the navy to stop construction (destruction). And on the very anniversary date of the Gwangju massacre and uprising, May 18, they were suppressed by the Island government whose governor has continued only to betray the Island people, although he himself is also totally ignored by the central government.
Photos from the May 5-12 international solidarity protest days were covered on a whole page of Hankyoreh, a Korean leading progressive daily newspaper.
Jesuits Korea celebrated Monday Catholic mass in support of Gangjeong in Seoul Jesuit center. "The Destruction of Gureombi rock is a bad example of the relationship between human beings and the Nature". The Mass has run for 8 weeks now.
Gangjeong villagers and peace activists made an Okinawa solidarity video with Japanese subtitles to send to Okinawa for their May 15th Memorial Day events. May 15th is the day that Okinawa was returned to Japan from the U.S. in 1972. An activist who has been to Okinawa and Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun both gave short solidarity messages. The video also included pictures of many villagers and activists holding signs of solidarity between Jeju and Okinawa.
Meanwhile in Okinawa there was an Okinawa-Korea International solidarity rally, which showed a film about Gangjeong and its struggle and also Korean traditional dance and music performances. Another rally was held in the seaside park of Ginoawan City, near the U.S. Futenma Air Station.
The village presented the Jeju Island government with 11 CDs worth of proof that the construction of the Jeju naval base project has not been following environmental laws and regulations as laid out in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). First, despite major damage to the silt protection layers surrounding the water of the site, the result of strong winds on April 23rd, the blasting of Gureombi Rock and dredging of the sea continued without stop. Second, despite an EIA agreement that construction should be halted when wind speed is above 8m/sec,in order to prevent excessive air pollution due to construction dust,construction continued in all wind conditions. Third, despite an EIA agreementthat should noise from construction exceed 65db during the day and/or 50db at night, construction must be limited to 3 hours a day, construction at high volumes has been ongoing day and night. Fourth, despite the fact that the allowed number of excavator construction vehicles is limited to two, there are at least 14 currently in the construction site. The Gangjeong Village Association says that the Jeju Island government, which is in charge of management of public water and adjacent surfaces, must order a halt to construction until the complete repair of silt protection layers. They also say that, due to these gross violations, if Governor Woo does not follow the proper procedures, it is considering to indict him as a criminal for his dereliction of duty.
Villagers and activists did 1,000 life and peace bows in front of main entrance to the Island governmenthall in Jeju City, which took more than seven hours. It was the 1st day of three days of 1,000 bows in the government hall yard. In front of the KORDI, the co-representative of the Daejeon-South Choongcheong province branch of Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea (SPARK) held a one-person protest for two hours, saying “The civilian-military dual port is a fabrication and the entry and exit by 150,000 ton cruise is impossible. Stop the construction of the Jeju naval base project.” The Daejeon branch of SPARK has been holding one-person protests in front of the Gyeryongdae navy headquarter on the first Tuesday of every month. It is also holding a traveling candle vigil throughout the region.
Real time simulation verification of the base layout plan by the Ministry of National Defense andIsland government was supposed to be held at the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) in Daejeon at 11:30 am. The villagers have called for the Island government not to join such meetings but instead immediately order a halt to construction. The Jeju Island government held a breaking news briefing at 10 a.m., where Yang Byong-shik, executive director for the Jeju civilian-military dual port for the Jeju Island government said, "Among the 5 cases of simulation regarding the safe maneuver of the two 150,000 ton cruise ships suggested by civilian experts recommended by the island government, 3 cases were not received by theprime minister's office, so we decided to boycott [the planned simulation at KORDI]."
Hearing that, Lee Chang-Hee, head of the Industry Promotion department of the Prime Minister Office, visited the Island government and strongly criticized them in his 1:30 pm press conference which Yoon Seok-Han, naval officer and chief of construction management of the Jeju naval base business committee also attended. Lee declared that the Central government will continue its current construction (destruction) of the civilian-military dual port regardless of what happens.
In the early morning some members of the Save our Sea (SOS) team entered Gureombi Rock to pray, continuing the daily morning prayer ritual done by Brother Song (Dr. SongKang-Ho) before his arrest on April 1st.
Bows for Life and Peace continued in the Island government hall yard for a 2nd day. Despite a physical scuffle in the beginning as police tried to block people from bowing directly in front of the hall the bows were carried out. In the afternoon, around 10 police buses came but there were no clashes this day.
Brother Song had two trials onMay 17 and in one trial, he made a beginning statement, which was moving.
Otherwise, the Island government held its 3rd meeting for the ‘Promotion and Support Headquarter for the 2012 WCC Jeju’ composed of 16 Jeju institutes of the Island government, Education Office, Police Office, Immigration Office, Customs House, Meteorological Office, Tour Association and more at the auditorium of the Island government hall at 2 p.m. The WCC (World Conservation Congress) is the biggest international environmental meeting held by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation ofNature) every four years and will be joined by about 10,000 people from 1,100 government institutes and NGO from 180 countries. (The first meeting was on Feb. 15 while the 2nd meeting was on March 29. On April 25, The IUCN made a public statement in support of the so-called “civilian-military dual port” being built on Gangjeong.)
Lee Kang-Deok, chief of the Korean Maritime Police ordered severe punishment for any ‘obstruction of construction.’ Is it to target those courageous SOS members? Not only them, the whole political situation is very urgent for everyone, as the central government is expected to designate the project area as the military protection zone in June which will bring much more severe restrictions.
The Dong-A Ilbo, one of the most conservative media outlets in Korea falsely claimed that the Neutbom Unification School, in Gangjin, Jeolla province, is pro-North Korea. The school sent about 90 teenage students to the village in April for eight nights and nine days to experience the daily life of Gangjeong. The school immediately made public a detailed response to the vicious distortions of Dong-A Ilbo. Such fact-twisting ideological attacks by pro-base conservatives are nothing new since the struggle became a national issue last year, but it is noticeable that they targeted a school this time.
The “Reset KBS News” movement produced by striking KBS (Korean Broadcast System) workers reported that a U.S. military Boeing 337 plane carrying high ranking U.S. officials, secretly landed at the Soonahn airport in Pyeongyang, North Korea on April 7, days before the North Koreanlaunch of “Gwangmyeongsepng No. 3”, very likely to stop its launch.
The 32nd the anniversary of the Gwangju massacre and people’s uprising in 1980. Father Mun received the 5.18 Human Rights prize in Gwangju, Jeolla province. About 15 people from Gangjeong led by village vice-mayor Cho Kyung-Chul came to Gwangjuto campaign for the struggle against the Jeju naval base, amidst Gwangju citizens’ ardent welcome of them. The 15 also went to share the honor of Father Mun.
Meanwhile the tragic history and resistance of Gwangju can be seen again in Gangjeong, Jeju Island. Around 100 government officers and police were mobilized to suppress people doing peaceful bows in front of the government hall. Not just men but old femalevillagers and young woman activists were forced out of the government hall yard by police in plainclothes. Four women activists were arrested by the policeunder the charge of “refusal to leave”. Still the 1000 bows continued at thefeet of the police who blocked the government hall and across the street where the Pan-Island committee activists have been holding a street sit-in since March 26. The people strongly denouncing the Island governor and government, declaring that if the governor does not immediately make an order to halt construction, they will begin a strong movement to push for his resignation. Meanwhile, Governor Woo delayed again (for the fourth time!) to make a final decision about the construction.
Oh Choong-Jin, chairman of the Island council strongly demanded Governor Woo promptly decide in his closing speech at the 2nd general meeting of 294th temporarysession of the Island Council. However, Woo Keun-Min didn’t respond to this and instead promoted the island government’s private simulation (as opposed to the Ministry of National Defense’s simulation) which will (in around a month) confirm, or not, the safe entry and exit of 150,00 cruise ships.
This came after the Island government was shocked to discover that the Ministry of National Defense cheated them and had already finished its own simulation secretly, declaring no problems and leaking the news without any official notice even to the Island government who found out through the media. Despite this, the Governor still makes no action.
Members of AWC-Japan who have been denied entry to South Korea started regular protest in front of South Korean Consulate in Osaka. They are demanding the stop of construction of new naval base in solidarity with struggling people in Gangjeong. They also demanded immediate withdrawal of unjust entry-ban against foreign peace activists.’
The movement to get 100,000 people’s petition to be submitted to the National Assembly that opens on June 1, is growing. The petition (http://100kpropose.com/home/members) has four demands: Halt the Jeju naval base construction (destruction) / Carry out investigations into government affairs, especially regarding violations of human rights and forced illegal construction (destruction) / Cut totally the naval base project-related budget / Carrying out a Special Prosecution System. So far the petition site has more than 13,000 signatures on-line and many more as yet uncounted offline signatures, making the current count much higher.
In Seoul, a rally to denounce the Lee Myung-Bak government’s policies including the Jeju naval base issue was held.
On Sunday, Kim Mi-Hwa, a famous comedian and initiator of the DKKK movement (Don’t Kill Kangjung Kurumbi [Gangjeong Gureombi]) visited the village, looked around naval base construction (destruction) area, and gave encouragement to the people.
Otherwise, even though there has been no rain fordays, muddy water is flowing out from Gureombi Rock into the sea, bringing concerns about contamination. Since the beginning of the blasting began onMarch 7 muddy water has flown from Gureombi Rock into the sea many times. The village association is investigating.
1. Please take some time to write protest letters to the government and the naval base planners and contractors. Demand that they revoke the Jeju naval base project in the Peace Island; that they should stop lying that the port will be a civilian-military port; and that they should not enforce the revision of the two acts which would establish the construction (destruction) zone as a closed military facility,which is illegal and a violation of government’s promises to the people. Please tell them that the base construction (destruction) continues at the cost of destruction of a community, democracy, human rights, the environment, and the peace of the Gangjeong villagers. Tell them that the base being built in the Jeju will make Jeju a target of war, contribute to political instability in Asia, and only profit the arms industries such as Samsung and Daelim who employs thugs to oppress protesters. Please remind that the current government oppression to people is reminiscent of a 2nd 4.3.
Appropriate addresses can be found here:
http://www.secc.co.kr/eng/html/customer/contactus.asp (SamsungC & T)
2. Please write aletter to Woo Keun-Min, Island governor, to immediately order the halt of the construction (destruction); to stop the deceptive propaganda regarding the so-called “Beautiful tourism port for mixed civilian-military dual-use” which in reality is only 100% a military base; to revoke the navy license for reclamation of the coast and sea in the base project area; and to restore the absolute preservation area that was annulled for the naval base project through undemocratic procedures in 2009. Also please demand that he give a sincere apology to the villagers and activists whom he ordered to be attacked on March 26 and May 18.
3. Please write to the Democratic United party members to work harder to revoke the Jeju naval base project. Please tell them that the so-called “Beautiful Tourism Port for Mixed Civilian-Military Use”, has been confirmed as a fraud and that the party should resolutely reject the Lee Myung-Bak government’s enforcement of Jeju naval base project under such deceptive propaganda. Please remind them that the party’s election pledge was to “re-examine the project from the beginning point” and that they should also consider a special inspection system for the Jeju naval base issue, regarding crimes committed by the government. Pressuring them is very important, as their party is the main opposition party:
Park Ji-Won, Representative of Democratic United Party, Democratic United Party Representative within the National Assembly, Supreme member of the Democratic Party: email@example.com
Moon Jae-In, Permanent Advisor, Democratic United party, possible presidential candidate: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Please also consider signing the petitions on Avaaz (http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_jeju/?vl) and distributing this letter among your networks.
5. For more immediate situation updates, join the Facebook group, ‘No Naval Base on Jeju’.
6. Please write encouraging letters to Dr. (or Brother) Song in Jail.
Dr. Song Kang-Ho (No.611)
161 Ora-2 dong, Jeju City,
Jeju, the PeaceIsland, Korea
Thisnewsletter/appeal is updated every week.