[HCCN] Fwd: Missile Defense on the Peace Island

Judith Robbins JUDY at ROBBINSandROBBINS.com
Sun Oct 25 19:00:09 EDT 2009



Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Global Network" <globalnet at mindspring.com>
>
> Missile Defense on the Peace Island
>

> I just got home from 3-weeks in South Korea.  It was quite a trip.
> During my last two days I was visiting Jeju Island (about 500 miles  
> south of the Korean peninsula) which is recognized by UNESCO as  
> being a place of world class environmental quality and one that  
> hosts many endangered forms of corals and other sea life. To say it  
> is a jewel would be an understatement.
>
> Soon after arriving our delegation of five activists, which  
> included some real notables in the South Korean movement for  
> democracy and peace, we were brought to the offices of Jeju  
> Solidarity for Participatory Self-Government & Environmental  
> Preservation. There we were shown a most impressive 50-minute video  
> about the struggle on the island to stop plans by the federal  
> government to build a Navy base on the south side of the island.  
> Jeju calls itself the "Island of Peace" and activists wonder how a  
> Navy base, hosting Aegis destroyers outfitted with missile defense  
> systems, could be considered a compatible use.
>
> Three villages have been approached to host the base and the first  
> two turned the government down. By the time the third village was  
> asked the government had decided to offer bribes of $100,000 each  
> to the respected sea diving women who are known for searching the  
> bottom of the ocean for sea urchins which they then sell to make a  
> living. The third village, Gangjung, is predominately opposed to  
> the base but the bribes created enough of a division to cause the  
> government to say they will build the base in this village.
>
> Gangjung, like the rest of Jeju island, is most famous for growing  
> tangerines in this tropical climate. Tourism is the second industry  
> as people come from around the world to experience the wonders of  
> the lush volcanic island. A long walking trail takes people across  
> the island and recently the government has removed Gangjung from  
> the walking trail maps so they can limit the numbers of people who  
> would see the active signs of resistance amidst the splendid beauty  
> of the rocky seaside where the proposed Navy base is to be built.
>
> When I asked activists who the government said they needed the base  
> to protect against the answer was followed by much laughter:  
> pirates they told me. The truth is that the US will be jointly  
> using the Navy base with the South Korean Navy as a port to deploy  
> Aegis ships that will be used to help surround the coast of China  
> and to give the US the capability to choke off China's ability to  
> import 80% of its oil through the Malaka Straight that flows right  
> off Jeju Island.
>
> The villagers of Gangjung do not see the Navy base as offering them  
> much. Their local economy is thriving from the tangerine groves  
> that are everywhere in the town and from the abundant numbers of  
> tourists who come there to experience the seaside. In fact the Navy  
> base would take significant portions of their village land now used  
> for farming and would destroy the environment. The rocky shoreline  
> would be covered with cement and the proposed base pier would  
> extend to the edge of where the fresh water Gangjung River flows  
> into the sea.
>
> Kang, Dong Kyun, the mayor of the village and a key protest leader,  
> told me that 70% of the drinking water for the community comes from  
> the river and would surely be negatively impacted by the Navy base.  
> Take away our water, he said, and you destroy the town.
>
> Throughout the village you see many tall bamboo poles with yellow  
> flags on them that say, "We desperately oppose the Naval base." But  
> no one in the government wants to listen to them. They have tried  
> all the usual steps of meeting with government officials,  
> organizing protests, and they recently tried to recall their  
> provincial governor in a special election but did not turn out a  
> high enough percentage of voters to make the vote official.
>
> They've now set up a camp along the rocky coastline where some are  
> now holding a round-the-clock vigil. More tents will be erected in  
> the coming weeks as construction is set to begin at the end of this  
> year. When I spoke to the village people in their community center  
> last night there were key activists from other parts of South Korea  
> who are trying to help.
>
> I was deeply touched by the good people of Jeju. Mayor Kang told  
> me, "This is the land of our ancestors that we must pass on to the  
> future generations. This village must not be used as a 'strategic'  
> base but must be preserved. The government is dividing people  
> against each other which is the worst thing of all. The long  
> lasting people will ultimately win."
>
> I told the mayor and the village people that because the proposed  
> base would have Aegis destroyers homeported there, with missile  
> defense systems on-board, that the Global Network must do all it  
> can to help them with their valiant effort. Just as we did what we  
> could to support the people in the Czech Republic last year in  
> their effort to resist US missile defense deployments, we must do  
> the same for Jeju Island. That is what solidarity means.
>
> Who will speak for the fish, the coral, the rocks, or the water I  
> asked? We must all do it.
>
> It has been a remarkable journey to South Korea and one that I am  
> proud to have taken. I have met splendid people who are doing their  
> best to resist the destruction of their democracy by corporate  
> interests, the destruction of their farming lands, and the  
> expansion of militarism. There are many fights going on in the  
> world that we all have to be concerned about, more than we can all  
> handle I know, but every now and then one comes along that  
> represents all of these important struggles in one bundle. That is  
> Jeju Island.
>
> I hope that once we get the Jeju Island video, expected in a few  
> weeks, that all of you will get a copy from us and show it in your  
> community. I promise that everyone who watches it will be moved  
> beyond tears about the beauty and the wonder of the island of  
> peace. We must help bring the struggle on Jeju Island to the world.
>
> Bruce K. Gagnon
> Coordinator
> Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
> PO Box 652
> Brunswick, ME 04011
> (207) 443-9502
> http://www.space4peace.org
> globalnet at mindspring.com
> http://space4peace.blogspot.com (Blog)

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