Reports on the GN’s 2012 Space Conference

Hawaii and Jeju Island

February 20-28, 2012

 


Jeju Island's Struggle for Peace - Bruce's video report


Film of GN Conference by Denis Apel

Conference program details and Presentations etc

Other reports

20 February Building out Global Solidarity by Bruce Gagnon
  Darkness in Paradise by Dave Webb
  Darkness in Paradise - 2 by Dave Webb
22 February Great Turnout on Kuai by Bruce Gagnon
23 February Darkness in Paradise - 3 by Dave Webb
24 February Day One in GangjeoNG by Bruce Gagnon
  The Best Time, The Worst Time by Bruce Gagnon
  First report from Gangjeong Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares
26 February Sleepless in Protest Central by Bruce Gagnon
27 February Darkness in Paradise - 4 by Dave Webb
  Second report from Gangjeong by Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares
28 February Third report from Gangjeong by Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares
4 March Text of the Letter to the Governor "We urge Governor of Jeju to stop the illegal construction of Jeju Naval Base, and completely re-evaluate the project"
16 March Report on Peace Confrerence at Gangjeong Village by Catherine Christie (missionary in Seoul), Amnesty G48
  Protest on Gureombi by Pat Cunningham, Amnesty G48

20 February 2012
Building out Global Solidarity
By Bruce Gagnon

http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_19_archive.html


We had a 10-hour tour (de-tour) today of the militarization on Oahu in Hawaii. Kyle Kajihiro, former director of the AFSC peace program until the national office did a massive cutting back and closed their local office, is a long-time and dedicated peace worker who knows just about everything that is happening on this island.

More than 20% of Oahu is militarized and that number is growing by the day. Obama's "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific means that the Pacific Command (PACOM) headquarters here will grow and its "area of responsibility" will become much more important and its mission much more aggressive. Bad news for Hawaii and for the people of the Pacific.

We were joined today by two activists from Kauai who will be hosting us when we go there on Tuesday. On Monday we will have a mini-conference here with about 20 key people from at least three of Hawaiian islands. It will be a chance for us to learn more about their work and share with them the stories from the Global Network.

We are staying in the guest rooms of the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) here in Honolulu. It's very comfortable and much cheaper than anything else we could have found in this expensive city. It's late and I'll write more tomorrow. I've got a ton of emails to get caught up with.

Spring training started today for my Baltimore Orioles baseball team. They've signed two pitchers from Japan and Taiwan. The Pacific region now touches my baseball life too. Should be an interesting year.

LEARNING MORE ABOUT MILITARIZATION OF HAWAII


Global Network leader Dave Webb from the UK yesterday at Naval Communications Center in the middle of Oahu during our de-tour of military sites. You can see three white satellite communications devices in the background.

We had a great meeting today at the Quaker Meeting House in Honolulu. We heard from activists from Oahu, Kauai, and the big island who are working against the expanding military bases on each of their islands. Alot of the expansion is gobbling up large areas for military training. On the big island the military wants seven times what they now have for war training. The Army has ignored a county council resolution that called for a halt at the Pohakuloa bombing range.

One of the activists from Kauai told a story about his recent leafletting about our talk that is scheduled there for tomorrow. He handed a flyer to a woman who said to him, "My husband works at the base [Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility where Aegis destroyers test their interceptor missiles]. He has cancer. Everybody in his shop has cancer."

On Oahu the military machine is paying a native Hawaiian Democrat $750,000 to counter organize against local peace group opposition to Army expansion. On Oahu 17% of the total population is military connected while 20% of island residents are native Hawaiian.

We concluded the meeting by going around and asking each person to share three strategy ideas. Amongst the top choices of the group were:
  • Keep building the Occupy movement across the country and inside Washington DC
  • Work more with young people and develop peace education curriculum for schools
  • Keep connecting the dots between key military installations and issues
     
  • Use the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department jobs study to drive home the fact that military spending is the least effective way to create jobs
  • Expand our use of culture and alternative media to reach out to the public
  • Take on the China threat myth
  • A day or weekend of coordinated actions across the Pacific should be organized
  • Keep a public presence at the military bases/training areas/production sites
  • Come to the protest of the NATO/G8 summit in Chicago next May
  • Organize a local action during Keep Space for Peace Week during October 6-13

We are getting up at 5:00 am for an early flight to Kauai. We will visit the Pacific Missile Range Facility, have a swim, and do a live radio interview before our talk at the library.

On Wednesday Dave and I head to Jeju Island. Lynda will head back to California.


20 February 2012
Darkness in Paradise
By Dave Webb

http://www.yorkshirecnd.org.uk/blogs/posts-by-dave-webb/darkness-in-paradise


Dave Webb, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,  reports on the militarisation of Hawaii home to the world's largest  defense testing facility in the world

A range of volcanic islands and a holiday paradise that is also one of the many military oppressed islands in the Pacific Region. The political and military importance of this region is not escaping the islanders. President Obama’s moves to escalate the US military presence here is threatening even further the lives and livelihoods of the people. It is unlikely that holidaymakers will be aware of the history of the Islands and the past and present domination of the US military industrial complex there – which exercises a cynical and arrogant display of power.

420px-Missile_launch_from_Pacific_Missile_Range
A ballistic missile is launched from Barking Sands, Kauai Island

We are staying on Oahu, one of the Hawaii chain and the Island that includes Honolulu and Pearl Harbour and yesterday we had a 10-hour tour (known as the De-Tour) of the militarization of Oahu. Kyle Kajihiro, former director of the American Friends Services Committee peace program, is a long-time and dedicated peace worker who knows just about everything that is happening on this island. It’s strange that the national flag of Hawaii has a Union Jack in the top left corner and yet Hawaii was never a British colony. This apparently dates back to when the Islanders were trying to resist the US empire and wanted to develop friendly relations with Britain, even asking them to intervene. The US did of course eventually colonise the Islands and then encompassed them further as the 50th state in 1959.

Map of militarised Hawaii

Over 20% of the Island of Oahu is militarized and that figure is continually growing and set to grow exponentially in the near future. The trip was full of stories of how the Islanders have been lied to, tricked and generally downtrodden and abused and their environment polluted and destroyed over the years by the military. We drove past the High School attended by  President Obama, it is a huge, well resourced campus, in direct contrast with conditions that so many indigenous families live in. Forced out of their houses for various reasons (take-overs by the military or financial difficulties), many live in makeshift shanty towns on our near the beach. They are being threatened with being moved on yet again further away from the eyes of the well housed and well off US middle classes. They are known locally as the “houseless” rather  than homeless - as the island is their home but they are not allowed or not able to be properly housed there. Their numbers are likely to increase further as Obama’s "pivotal shift" to the Asia-Pacific means that the US Pacific Command (PACOM) headquarters here will  grow and its "area of responsibility" will become increasingly more important - and its mission much more aggressive. This can only be bad news for Hawaii and for the people of the Pacific.

On the tour we visited the Pearl Harbour Memorial (a US National Monument) which is a huge area overlooking the harbour (where a nuclear powered submarine and a nuclear powered aircraft carrier were on proud display  with flags flying). Kyle showed us the little corner of the park that has been given over to the abbreviated and censored story of the indigenous people. It reminded me of the small corner of the Royal Armouries in Leeds given over to the Peace Museum. We also went past the NSA’s Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (KRSOC). This is a secured, bomb-proof, underground installation established in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It is a sister establishment to Menwith Hill and Kyle told us that the whole thing is due to be moved to the NSA’s Central Security Service's Hawaii Regional Security Operations Center currently being constructed near Whitmore Village not too far away on Oahu, at the former site of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific, or NCTAMS PAC.

We were joined on our trip yesterday by two activists from another Hawaiian Island – Kauai. This is the home of “Barking Sands”, the Pacific  Missile Range Facility (PMRF - the world's largest missile testing and training range. In around 2 years time the PMRF will see a new missile testing complex – the “Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex” which is due to be built on two locations at the Westside base on the Island as a test and evaluation centre as one of the developments of the 2nd phase of President Obama’s “Phased Adaptive Approach” to Missile Defense.

Today we are part of a mini-conference with about 20 people from key campaigns on at least three of Hawaiian islands. Tomorrow we will be speaking at a conference on the Impacts of Missile Defense on the Pacific, Asia and the World.


22 February 2012
Darkness in Paradise - 2
By Dave Webb

http://www.yorkshirecnd.org.uk/blogs/posts-by-dave-webb/darkness-in-paradise-2


The Militarisation of Hawaii

There are so many huge military installations on the Hawaiian chain of islands that it is easy to overlook some of the smaller ones. I forgot to mention in the previous report that, at the end of the road on our “De-Tour” of Oahu, at the top of the Island, we stopped by Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, part of the US Air Force Space Command System responsible for tracking military satellites, receiving and processing their data and relaying commands to them from control centres. The familiar satellite dishes and large white golf ball were perched on the top of an otherwise typically rugged hillside overlooking the blue sea.

Yesterday’s meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Honolulu went really well. Among the attendees were people from Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island, all of whom are working against the expanding US military presence on their islands. This military expansionism, part of President Obama’s strategy of developing a “Pacific Pivot”, is taking up more and more of the land area of the Islands as bases expand, new ones spring up and large areas are taken over for military training. For example, the US military is set to take up 7 times more land area than they already have and the US Army has ignored a county council resolution that has called for a halt in the development of the Pohakuloa bombing range.

We exchanged many stories and a lot of information. For example, it seems that 17% of the population on Oahu is connected with the military, while just 20% of island residents are native Hawaiian. Two of those present, Kip Goodwin and Fred Dente will be our hosts in Kaua’i, they are leaving for home after the meeting.

lynda26
The Meeting!

The next day we had to leave the Friends’ House at 5:00am to catch an early flight to Kaua’i, the northern most island of the chain.

This is a beautiful island, a series of connected ancient volcanic craters, with their crumbling walls filled by the sea. Tropical undergrowth climbs up the side of what remains of the slopes of the crater walls, the highest regions of which are often draped in a mist of cloud, while spray from the Hawaiin waves and gentle rain falls intermittently on the warm sands. This is the place you see in movies; in fact King Kong and Jurassic Park were both filmed here. One of the biggest crater areas traps incoming water bearing cloud and is apparently the wettest place on the planet.

We were picked up by Kip and Sharon. It turned out that Kip had spent the night in the Airport on Oahu on stand by for a flight home. He had only managed to get a few hours sleep and had arrived just before us. We were driven to a nearby town for breakfast. Yesterday had been Shrove Tuesday so I had pineapple and coconut pancakes. I have never seen such a huge pile of pancakes and could only just about eat half! After breakfast we were met by Sandy who took us further on the road around the island.

PMRF Meeting PosterOne strange thing we noticed was that wherever you go you see chickens running loose. Apparently these are feral chickens – a hurricane swept the island in 1992 and released the chickens from their compounds and since then they have survived in the wild. Bruce suggested that the chickens talk about this as their year of liberation – when they finally achieved their freedom!   People don’t seem to like them too much but no-one rounds them up either.

Amidst the sweet smelling flowers and the idyllic setting, it is sometimes difficult to remember that this island is also the home of the US Navy’s huge Pacific Missile Range Facility.

After a mid-morning swim and lunch in a wonderful cove surrounded by what remains of a crescent shaped crater rim, covered by jungle, we were driven to one of the local radio stations as guests for a talk show. The radio station was in a clearing in a wooded area, reached via a rough track. It was a small rustic looking shack with an extension consisting of a canvas roof stretched between metal upright poles. Beneath the balcony was a small metal round table surrounded by four or five chairs. The scene was reminiscent of some guerrilla headquarters somewhere in the Guatemalan jungle. The show seemed to go quite well we were very sympathetically interviewed about why we were there and what our campaign and protest was about. Here we met up with Ray Catania a local organiser for our visit and a committed activist.

After the radio interview we moved on to Kapaa public library for the public meeting. Outside a demonstration about the GM fields on the island was just ending. There are a number of GM fields on the island, run by companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta. Much against the wishes of many of the local people.

The meeting focussed on the Pacific Missile Range Facility - their website claims that "PMRF is the world's largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supported surface, sub-surface, air, and space operations simultaneously. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace." The US military has used the Pacific as a testing area for nuclear weapons and missiles since the 1950s. Although nuclear weapons are no longer tested there, missiles and “missile defence” interceptors are regularly fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll and Wake Island in the Marshall Islands. The performance of the missiles during the tests is monitored and analysed by a string of Hawaiian bases, the most important of which is the PMRF.

PMRF
Part of the PMRF

It is at the PMRF that the "missile defense" systems on the US Navy Aegis destroyers are flight tested. The Aegis ships are built at Bath Iron Works in Maine (where Bruce lives) and will use the South Korean Naval base being constructed on Jeju Island. This trip is all about making these particular connections but the Pentagon will also be using bases in many other places, including Japan, Australia, the Middle East, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean to berth these ships. In addition, ”Aegis Ashore” missile interceptors are due to be stationed in Romania, Poland and elsewhere and, as Bruce says, “the US Navy has a big public relations campaign on national TV where they call themselves ‘a global force for good.’" They are attempting to “brainwash the US public into supporting their aggressive ‘full spectrum dominance’ program that only really benefits corporate globalization”.

At the meeting, our MC, Koohan Paik, gave a fantastic introduction - making all the connections with an impressive and powerful series of slides. I followed presenting some of the technical aspects of missile “defence” and highlighting the roles of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, showing how they fit with other components. After me came Lynda with her unique song and slide show on nuclear weapons, war in space and missile defence. The audience was wowed! Finally, Bruce gave a magnificent speech, recalling some of the human stories of the campaign and calling on everyone to take action in any way they can. Among those present was singer and song writer Buffy Sainte-Marie – who wrote “Universal Soldier” – she introduced herself at the end and everyone who spoke to us said they were inspired and enthused. The organisers, who had done such a good job to get a completely packed hall, were really pleased. They hope very much that this meeting will mark the start of a new sustained and energetic local opposition to the PMRF.

Tonight we go different ways – Lynda stays with Koohan and Bruce and I stay with Kip and his wife. Tomorrow we have to get up at 5am again to catch a flight to South Korea. We will cross the International Date Line which means we will time travel and switch from being way behind time to being way ahead. We will also be moving from the areas of the Pacific used in the past (and present) for nuclear and missile testing to areas where President Obama’s policies are ensuring that new future nuclear and missile systems are tested, developed, and stationed. In the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie – “this is not the way we out an end to war.”


22 February 2012
Great Turnout on Kuai
By Bruce Gagnon

http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_19_archive.html


kauai
The Kauai Meeting

The Kauai Alliance for Peace & Social Justice organized a great turnout last night of over 100 folks who came to hear talks by Koohan Paik, Dave Webb, Lynda Williams and myself. The two hours of presentations were patiently listened to by virtually everyone. It was a big step forward for their group and their island.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) is one of those isolated and not frequently challenged manifestations of the military industrial complex. It sits along the coast of Kauai and takes a long time to drive to. Few ever go there and many have been intimidated over the years into grudgingly accepting its presence because of the "jobs" issue. Even many of those who are inclined to oppose PMRF have learned to live with it and this unpleasant acceptance has largely become the norm. (I heard that next month PMRF is sponsoring a health care weekend where they will offer to provide check-ups for those without insurance. Isn't that sweet? The military, who has socialized medicine, is going to offer to give the poor folks a bit of a taste of the good life. All of course intended as public relations.)

Koohan Paik, one of the leaders of the Kauai peace group, led things off with a blistering denunciation of PMRF and its mission to test the Aegis "missile defense" (MD) interceptor system. Obama has decided to additionally create the "Aegis Ashore" program where they will put the usually ship-based MD systems on land. After testing at PMRF these Aegis Ashore interceptors will be deployed in Romania and other locations in the growing encirclement of Russia and China. Koohan also did a powerful slide show of the struggle on Jeju Island and won over the hearts of those in the audience for the struggling Gangjeong villagers.

Dave Webb did a slide show that showed how the Space Command has set up the global system of satellites, radar stations, MD bases, and more that now weave the full spectrum dominance plan into place. He showed how PMRF fits into the larger Pentagon's grand scheme of things and was able to put to rest the myth that the Navy testing missile installation on Kauai had anything at all to do with defense.

Lynda Williams, physics teacher from California and long-time Global Network board member, is also an entertainer. She writes songs about space and science as a way to help her students and the public understand these issues. Her song "War in Heaven" was my favorite of the four numbers she performed to her adoring audience last night. I woke up at 4:00 am singing it........

I wrapped up the event by telling a number of stories that illustrated the mission and dangers of PMRF, the agenda behind the current U.S. "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific to surround China, and more. I concluded by taking on the jobs issue by reminding people that military production is in fact the worst way to create jobs with our tax dollars.

After the event was over I was surprised to be approached by a woman who said she grew up visiting a lake in Maine. Then she said she wrote the famous Vietnam-era anti-war song Universal Soldier. It was none other than Buffy Sainte-Marie. She was very kind and humble.

Earlier in the day we had a swim at one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to. Kauai is a wondrous mix of mountains and breath taking beaches. One of my favorite things was the abundance of wild chickens roaming around the island - the true free-range chicken. It appears that a hurricane in 1992 had smashed all the chicken houses on the island and they've been "liberated" ever since.

I'm at the Honolulu airport waiting on my flight to South Korea. Dave Webb is also on a flight to South Korea but left two hours earlier than me. It's a 10-hour journey to Seoul and then we must transfer to a domestic airline for the trip to Jeju Island. MB and Natasha Mayers are coming from Maine and will meet us on Jeju Island along with a bunch of other Global Network leaders.

Our Hawaii visit was a huge success and I must thank Lynda Williams who got the whole idea brewing for the Global Network. I think our activist friends in Hawaii, who often feel so isolated, very much appreciated our visit and our solidarity. I think that we will see more collaboration in the future.


23 February 2012
Darkness in Paradise - 3
By Dave Webb

http://www.yorkshirecnd.org.uk/blogs/posts-by-dave-webb/darkness-in-paradise-3


February 23rd

Arrived ok on Jeju about 8.30pm – caught the bus to Gangjeong and all was going well – then walking to the meeting place from the bus stop I realised that I had taken the wrong bag from the bus which was now disappearing down the road. Bit of a panic. Luckily the first person I saw at the meeting place was Regina Pyon and I told her what had happened she immediately called over two friends who bundled me into a pickup truck and we shot off down the road after the bus. One of the friends was Mi Kyoung Kang a wonderful director of the Hanbit Women’s Shelter. We caught up with it in Seogwipo City (Mi Kyoung’s home town) not far along the road and bags were exchanged successfully – then went to a nearby coffee shop! So at least I was able to see another part of the Island. An unexpectedly exciting start to the visit to the Island!

Today and tomorrow delegates will be arriving from around the world to learn about the struggle of the people of Gangjeong village. Their part of this beautiful island coastline is being destroyed (rare coral reefs and all) by the building of a huge Korean naval base. The US is keen to use the base when it is built, just a few hundred miles from the Chinese mainland, to berth their Aegis missile defence ships and aircraft carriers. The people of Gangjeong are resisting this military take-over of their lives with every scrap of energy they can muster. We are here to show support for their stand against the repercussions of US nuclear and missile defence policies in the Pacific and around the world. A new cold war arms race is beginning and must be stopped.

February 24th 

We start today with a visit to our conference venue - the memorial museum that relates the story of the massacre of around 30,000 Jeju Islanders on April 3, 1948. At the end of World War 2 there was a power confrontation between the Soviet Union in the north and the US in the south. The Soviet Union held an election in the north and installed its candidates and in the south the US supported Koreans who had collaborated with the Imperial Japanese forces during the war.

Jeju memorial Hall

Groups opposing the division of the country began organising rallies and marches. The people of Jeju did not want to take a stand with either North or South and were therefore accused of being communists by the South (if you’re not with us then you are against us). On March 1st 1948 a “shooting incident” occurred when police opened fire on a crowd, killing six people. Imprisonments and a general crackdown on the left began and this resulted in a full uprising on April 3rd.

Jeju Island became a “massive prison and killing field” with the US backed government aggressively imposing wholesale “slaughter of civilians among the hill villages.” The Island was set ablaze and over 90% of the villages torched. The museum sets out the heart rending story very well – emphasising the militaristic approach of the government - not wanting to listen to the cries of the people but just intent on putting down any rebellion. On May 13, 1949 the American ambassador to South Korea told Washington that the Jeju rebels and their sympathizers had been, "killed, captured, or converted."

Eventually, after civil rule was reinstated in the 1990s, the government did make several apologies for this brutal suppression and President Roh Moo-Hyun officially apologized to the people of Jeju Province in April 2006 and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed. However, this tragedy seems to be being repeated now in Gangjeong village. Those responsible for the construction of the Naval Base are ignoring the pleas and protestations of the villagers.

Conference Poster

In the afternoon, Around 150 people gathered in the museum auditorium for the conference speeches in the afternoon. There were a large number of Catholic priests and nuns in the audience who had come to hear their Bishop help open the conference and a delegation of Buddhist monks held a news conference to announce their support.  People have travelled a long way and from at least 13 different countries to hear the speeches, meet the villagers and show their support.

The conference was excellent – it opened with some welcome speeches (including  Kang Dong-Kyun, the amazing Gangjeong village mayor; me, as Chair of the Global Network; Oh Choong-Jin, Chairman of the Island Council and Kang Woo-Il, Bishop of the Jeju Catholic district). A number of Keynotes from various activists followed, including Angie Zelter (on non-violence and the peace movement) and Bruce Gagnon (on US military strategy in East Asia). An excellent new documentary film, with English subtitles, by Dungree called  “A year in Gangjeong 2011” was screened and followed by more keynotes, including a number of speeches from village representatives. The powerful closing statement was given by Roman Catholic priest, and energetic campaigner against the Navy Base, Fr. Moon Jung-Hyun. All of the speeches presented can be found on the Global Network web-site (www.space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2012.htm).

We then adjourned to a local restaurant for dinner. A few more informal and unprepared speeches were given during dinner and we were introduced to the tradition that a speaker has to end their speech with a song!

A long and tiring day but packed with information and the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Tomorrow looks like it will be an exciting day too ....


24 February 2012
Day One in Gangjeong
By Bruce Gagnon

http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_19_archive.html


The International Peace Conference

There is so much to write about and so little time. Yesterday we began our time here on Jeju Island with a conference at the museum where the story of the April 3, 1948 massacre of tens of thousands of Jeju residents is told. Following the end of WW II the U.S. took control of Korea and put the former Koreans who collaborated with fascist Japan in charge of the country. The U.S. began the process of dividing Korea and the people of Jeju were accused of being communists because they were independent minded and did not want to follow the corrupt leaders appointed by the U.S. military.

The people rebelled and the U.S. military directed the new Korean government to aggressively put down the rebellion. The museum does a fine, and heart breaking job, of telling this sad but virtually unknown story.

The people of Gangjeong village feel that the April 3 tragedy is being played out again by the construction of the Navy base in their village. About 150 gathered in the museum auditorium for speeches yesterday by South Korean and international activists. Folks have come here from at least a dozen countries to show their support for the struggling villagers. Many Catholic priests and nuns were in the audience to hear their Bishop welcome us. A delegation of Buddhist monks held a news conference to announce their support for the struggle.

I am told that the conference yesterday drew more media coverage than people had seen in a long time which makes everyone here very pleased. Today we spend our time meeting with villagers to talk and share food.

As we arrived in South Korea we were greeted by headlines in the newspapers about right-wing President Lee having just held a news conference to announce that he intends to speed up the Navy base construction project and push through the controversial Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. Many feel that his days are numbered as the coming spring election will bring an end to his mean-spirited and divisive reign of power. But for the people in Gangjeong village there is little relief as they daily see the Samsung Corporation (lead base contractor) make further moves toward the blasting of their sacred rocky coast.

The approximately 30 international activists are all mindful that our time here is short. We had a meeting late last evening to discuss ways our energies could be best put to use. We will have a formal strategy meeting with village leaders tomorrow but for the moment we must continue to appeal to the hearts of our friends around the world to keep Gangjeong in your prayers and hope that you will take steps to rally people where you live to devise ways to show public support for the noble people here who clearly understand that this Navy base will be a trigger for a wider arms race in the region that will over time hurt all of us, no matter where we live.


24 February 2012
The Best Time, The Worst Time
By Bruce Gagnon

http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_19_archive.html

The Navy is expanding its effort to put razor wire all along the rocky coastline so the villagers cannot any longer stand on their sacred ground. But the people keep coming by swimming or on kayaks. They are determined. They continue to be arrested. As I write this a group will find their way there for the Sunday morning Catholic mass.

Yesterday we had a joint meeting between the villagers and our international guests. Our folks shared stories about U.S. and NATO space technology expansion into Sweden and Norway, the effort by the U.S. to get India to create their own aggressive Space Command to help "contain" China, and the Vandenberg AFB in California space missile launching center.

One elderly man from Gangjeong village told us he can't sleep at night, suffers from depression, and sees that the community has been physically and spiritually torn apart by the base construction. He asked what they could do?

In the afternoon we took a walking tour all around the imposing barbed wire-topped fences that have been erected around the base site. We could hear the heavy equipment from inside the destruction zone and the police practicing their harsh anti-protest tactics.

We planted seeds, placed rocks and poured water from our hometowns in the new garden at the peace park that is being created just outside the fence line that guards one end of the base. Even in the midst of the ugliness and barbarity of the base the people are planting the seeds of life and hope. They still laugh and smile and share food. They love their land and the sea in spite of the Navy and construction corporations who have nothing but disdain for democracy, for the villagers 450-year old history, and for their close relationship to nature. It is good and evil in an epic struggle. Good and bad playing out right before our eyes.

After supper together in the village community center we were treated to the most inspiring and joyful experience of the nightly candlelight vigil. Vigil is the wrong word - it should rather be described as rally-dance-music festival-party. A totally amazing experience.

Speeches (Mary Beth's was a huge hit as she told her story of daily watching the videos from the village) were followed by traditional Korean drumming and singing; songs by villagers (including the mayor who has a great voice and many say looks like the actor Robert Mitchum; peace in space awards presentations by the Global Network to the village and to South Korean activist and GN board member Wooksik Cheong who was instrumental in organizing the programs; speech by the former governor of Jeju Island who ended by singing Amazing Grace; lots of dancing (including 75 year olds Agneta Norberg from Sweden and J. Narayana Rao from India); and the big finale that turned out to be a choreographed three-song set with spiral dancing and virtually everyone there including the old village women whose backs are bent from years of hard work on their farms. One village woman sang two songs that sounded very similar to Native American cultures that I have witnessed. This all lasted until midnight and they ended by saying, "We'll see you tomorrow night for more. We do this every night!"

Near the end of the evening village Mayor Kang called me up and handed me bags of gifts for each of the 3o-some international guests. As we were leaving he came running up to thank me again for helping to bring these wonderful activists from around the world to their struggling community.

Before I left home Maine friend and filmmaker Eric Herter loaned me a video camera and begged me to take as much footage as possible. I've never been much good with a camera but since Eric, who wanted badly to be with us but could not come, insisted I took on the task. I've been faithfully talking bits of video and interviewing people as we go along. I don't know if I got the light right at times, or the picture framed properly, but I am trying. Eric promised to do the editing and will make a mini-documentary out of it (if the footage is usable).

I thought to myself last night what a great gift we have all been given to be able to witness, and participate in, this absolutely remarkable experience. We are witnessing the best and worst times in the life of Gangjeong village. They are experiencing absolute horror but they are taking the moment and creating pure joy as well.

I feel like I am rambling on here but there is so much I want to share but feel incapable of doing so in the way I'd like to. I just wish everyone could come here to see for themselves this moment - you'd be changed, inspired, outraged, heart broken, and more.

We live our lives in boxes of comfort and conformity. All those boxes are being broken and cast aside here in Gangjeong.

BUSTED ON JEJU ISLAND

Ten international activists and six Korean activists were arrested today after crawling under the razor wire at the Navy base on Jeju Island. Seven Global Network members were among those arrested including Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, Dave Webb, Natasha Mayers, Agneta Norberg, Gun-Brit Makitalo, and Dennis Apel.

More than 70 activists used kayaks to get onto the rocky coast where they held a Catholic mass, sang songs, ate food, made speeches, and then moved under the the wire fence to enter the base destruction area.

Five of those arrested were moved to Dongbu police station in Jeju City. Today's candlelight vigil was held in front of Seogwipo police station where the other 11 were being held. The police arrested 20 more people during the vigil at the police station claiming it was an illegal protest.

After some hassles by the authorities many of the activists were released from jail by about 11:00 pm.
 


26 February 2012
Sleepless in Protest Central
By Bruce Gagnon

http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_26_archive.html

Great video montage from last few days on Jeju Island. Please share the link to this with folks in your community.

We are doing a news conference today in Jeju City about the large number of arrests yesterday. No time for rest around here. We had a meeting until 2:00 am last night.

Angie Zelter from the UK is going to stay here for a month after the rest of us leave which is good news. She is an experienced and determined woman. More folks are needed here to support the beleaguered villagers. Please consider sending a delegation from your community to Gangjeong village ASAP.

Consider it an activist vacation that you will never forget.
 


INTERNATIONAL PEACE ACTIVISTS NEEDED IN GANGJEONG VILLAGE IMMEDIATELY

 
When we got back to Gangjeong village on Feb 27 after the news conference we learned that the police were blocking villagers from using their kayaks


Global Network chairperson Dave Webb (UK) reading the letter to Governor Woo from Global Network leaders


Feb 27 news conference in Jeju City. Mayor Kang is speaking


In Jeju City for news conference on Feb 27 demanding Governor Woo protect the Gangjeong villagers and the environment


Gathering on the rocky coast on Feb 26. Got there by kayak and eventually 16 of us arrested for crawling under razor wire to protest the Navy's destruction plans

It was difficult for all of us to leave Gangjeong village. My last day in the village was filled with horror as the police surrounded the villagers and their kayaks and would not allow them to be put in the water. Four villagers were arrested and a daylong back and forth struggle took place where villagers and supporters would not give up their attempts to pull a kayak free and quickly put them in the water trying to head toward the embattled rocky coastline that is now virtually sealed off with razor wire.

Several people were hurt, as the police would swarm over any attempt to remove a kayak. Catholic Father Moon was knocked to the bottom of one scrum along with another revered villager who got his hand cut up. A Frenchman named Benji, who has been in the village for months, was knocked down and repeatedly pounced on by the police. I saw the police push one man off a ramp who was filming the scene.

Natasha Mayers (Maine artist) and Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi were able to get one kayak into the water. Angie Zelter put on a life vest and jumped into the cold water and swam to the rocky coastline. Benji jumped in with half of a wet suit on to make sure she didn't drown.

At one point I was asked to help create a diversion by going into the middle of where the police were surrounding the kayaks and attempt to pull a kayak out while others took kayaks from a nearby boat house. This worked and I was exhausted after trying to pull a kayak free from the grips of the police for at least 10-15 minutes during my diversionary attempt.

Earlier in the day yesterday about 30 of the villagers and remaining international supporters made the one-hour trip to Jeju City to hold a news conference demanding that the weak-kneed Governor Woo stand up to the Navy and protect the 450-year old village from destruction by the Navy. A large number of media covered the news conference and then we moved across the street to the governor's office building but they locked us out.

I've never seen such a thing where taxpaying citizens were locked out of their own government building - especially with the large media throng accompanying them. After much Korean-style yelling and demanding they finally opened the door and allowed Mayor Kang, Dave Webb (UK), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), me, and a translator to go up and deliver our letter to the governor's office.

All day long I couldn't get out of my head the thought that South Korea is absolutely a police state. I think it is a sign of where we in the U.S. are quickly heading. The South Korean people have been dealing with this reality for many years but we in the U.S. are hardly prepared for what this tastes like.

I've just arrived at JFK airport in New York City after a 13-hour flight from Seoul. When I checked the Facebook page called No Navy Base on Jeju! I saw a tweet from Father Moon saying, "February 28 Gangjeong port blockade! Today, worse! They surrounded the kayak storage container. Not even allowed to enter the sea, blocking fiercely! SWAT team has been deployed, who was mobilized at that time of Yongsan eviction crack down in 2009 [in Seoul]."

The Navy has been bringing police in from Seoul by the hundreds at a time. They have no allegiance to Jeju Island and are conscripts doing their two-years of service.

So in the last two days about 30 people have been arrested for trying to protect the sacred coast of Gangjeong village. The villagers tell us that every day is like this - an endless struggle just to be able to stand on their own shoreline or now even have access to the water with a kayak!

People keep asking what they can do to help. They should continue to call the South Korean embassy/consulate nearest to you. But most importantly more international delegations are urgently needed in the village. When the international presence is strong the police have to back off some of their more aggressive treatment of the villagers.

I can't urge strongly enough for activists around the world to discuss sending 2-3 folks from your community to Jeju for 7-10 days. We can help you make the necessary contacts there. Please discuss this great need in your local community. I can promise you it will be an experience that you will never forget. The villagers are worn out and would be thrilled if you could bring them this kind of support.
 

27 February 2012
Darkness in Paradise - 4
By Dave Webb

http://www.yorkshirecnd.org.uk/blogs/posts-by-dave-webb/darkness-in-paradise-4

Emergency on Jeju Island – act now!


demoJeju is a beautiful World Heritage island off the coast of South Korea - just a few hundred miles from mainland China where the Yellow and East China Seas meet. The South Korean Navy, under pressure from the US, wants to build a naval base at the 450 year old village of Gangjeong on the southern coast of the Island. According to a mutual defence pact and Status of Forces Agreement, the US can use any South Korean ports and airfields and President Obama has declared the Asia-Pacific as a military “pivot” in his projection of power “to protect U.S. interests and investments.” It is quite clear that the US will want to use the base to berth its Aegis missile defence ships and nuclear aircraft carriers.

Tourist Map of Jeju Island

Jeju Island - or “Island of World Peace” - is so named in recognition of the massacre there in 1948 when more than 30,000 civilians were brutally killed by the South Korean government. The Island eventually received an apology for this atrocity from the South Korean President in 2006. However, at the same time the government was also planning for the construction of the naval base that will destroy this area of unique biological diversity.

The Gangjeong villagers have been fighting the base ‘destruction’ for five years, using all the means at their disposal - political lobbying, legal challenges and protests and demonstrations. See the excellent video from AlJazeera.

activate

The construction of the base started last year and has reached a stage where the only means left is civil resitance and non-violent protest  (for up to date information see the facebook pages ‘Save Jeju Island’ and ‘No Naval Base on Jeju’).  The Navy and lead contractors Samsung and Daelim have taken over property; felled trees; destroyed greenhouses; and built miles of razor wired fence to prevent the villager’s access to Guroembi rocks, their ancient, holy place of prayer.

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space’s international peace conference was held there in February to support of the villagers and activists.

The villagers are amazing in their resistance and persistence.  When they can’t walk to Guroembi, they kayak.  When the kayaks are blocked by hordes of riot police, they swim. The passion, energy and love the people have for this place is something to behold.  Jeju is a volcanic island, and there are many rock formations, but Guroembi is unique. Fresh water springs lay beneath; offshore coral reefs; endangered species of red crab are part of the eco-system under threat. The villagers – fishermen, women divers, farmers, lovers of nature – have had no voice in the decision to blast Guroembi to smithereens and cover the remains in cement to build this naval base.  They have been organizing for years to change the hearts and minds of decision-makers, and to prevent the destruction of their village their livelihoods and their culture.

Our international delegation at the conference got a brief glimpse of the determination and creativity of the villagers.  We have been following the videos from Gangjeong hat show villagers and activists being arrested (sometimes brutally) for laying down in front of bulldozers, cement trucks, cranes, and machines meant to blast holes deep into the rocks. In prison they go on hunger strike and when released lay their bodies down again.

Jeju Island has a triple crown of UNESCO recognition as: 1) a World National Heritage site; 2) a Biosphere Reserve Zone, and 3) a World Geological Park.  It is a government-designated “absolute preservation area”.  It is characterised by rare rock formations, abundant and fertile farmlands, pristine fresh and seawaters, and endangered marine life.  Concerned world citizens should honour the people of Gangjeong who are giving their lives to protect this rare and valuable place.

During our brief visit we occupied the rocks by kiaks (the quickest and easiest way on to the rocks at that time) to hold our meeting and many were arrested going through the razor wire to reclaim the area. Ten internationals were held for several hours by the police and questioned - local activists were treated much more brutally by the authorities.

Dennis Apel, a Catholic worker from California, made this video:

Video by Denis Apel
http://youtu.be/FaMzaAMoR0I

Since then the action has escalated considerably - Angie Zelter (from the UK) and Benjamin Monet (from France) are two great international non violent organisers - they and 14 other people were arrested after the rocks were re-occupied by the villagers, barriers tron down and razor wire cut to allow access. Seri Kim, a Korean peace activist and Benjamin were injured by security forces and charged after climbing a crane to prevent drilling and blasting. Eventually, Benjamin was deported to Hong Kong and Angie told to leave the country. Three US veterans who were travelling to jeju Island to join the villagers were turned back and not allowed to enter. 

Crane Occupation

International protest has resulted in the Island Governor calling a halt to the construction by the navy and Samsung. This has so far been ignored. There is a General Election in April and work has been accelerated - the main opposition party has spoken out against the base construction.

The struggle continues. There are so many wonderful people involved - here are just a few:

Professor Yang Yoon-Mo recently turned 56 in Jeju City prison.  He is in jail for the second time in a year for putting his body in front of cement and construction trucks - the first time, he fasted for over 70 days.  He began a second hunger strike after his arrest in January. This gentle, holy man said clearly: “If Guroembi lives, I live; if Guroembi dies, I die.  Do not cry for me, cry for the future generations who may not be able to know the beauty of Guroembi.” He was told to stop the fast on March 15, the 38th day, as his health had deteriorated considerably. He did so and has begun to feed himself with water gruel. Previous to this he had stopped taking in even water and salt since the blasting of the rocks was started. However, his health was very fragile and the people of Gangjeong village were glad he has taken food again. Nobody wants him to die.

Professor Yoon-Mo

Mayor Kang Dong-Kyung a tangerine farmer has been imprisoned and injured by police as he questioned the legality of a huge crane (250 tons) that was being set up in violation of local law. Signed up to "Mayor's for Peace" while in prison.

mayor kang interview

Father Moon a much loved Catholic priest, passionate speaker and active campaigner against military bases moved to Gagjeong Village to join the protest. Arrested an imprisoned a number of times he remains an energetic and powerful force.
 

Father Moon arrested again

Sung-Hee Choi a board member of the Global Network Against Weapons ad Nuclear Power in Space has also been imprisoned a number of times and has helped organise and support the villagers for a long time.
 

Sung-Hee Choi in Prison

Benjamin Monet - from France joined the struggle with love and energy. Excellent organiser and activist. Deported for his dedication and active sevice.

Benjamin Monet on top of the world

Bruce Gagnon (seated in foreground in picture below) - US activist and Coordinator of the Global Network, from Maine (where Aegis missile defence destroyers are built). Through his blog "Organizing Notes" Bruce has done so much to document and spread the word about the struggle.

Bruce gagnon (seated, foreground) in Gangjeong Village

We can all still take action - even though the navy has started to blast the Guroembi rocks - further destruction MUST be stopped. The villagers are desperate.

Save Guroembi ...Save Gangjeong Village ... Save our world's heritage ... Stop US plans for Missile Offence

Do your part.

occupying the rocks
Occupy Guroembi Rocks!!


More Information:

About the International Actions Feb/Mar 2012:

1. Bruce Gagnon's "Organizing Notes"
2. Angie Zelter's reports to Trident Ploughshares

Regular updates:

1. On facebook: Save Jeju and No Naval base on Jeju
2. On the web: Bruce Gagnon's blog: http://space4peace.blogspot.co.uk/ 


What you can do:

If you can't actually go and support the villagers why not:

Contact:
Island Governor (Mr. Woo Keun-Min, Governor, The Government of Jeju-do, RoK, jejumaster@jeju.go.kr);
President (Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, President, Republic of Korea, president@cwd.go.kr );
Defense Minister  (Mr. Kim Kwan-Jin, Minister, Ministry of National Defense, RoK  cyber@mnd.go.kr)

Especially put pressure on the Jeju Island Governor to prevent the blasting of Goreombi rocks!  Let them all know that the world is watching, and that destruction of the village to build a naval base needs to stop.  As the people continue to plead:  “Please save Gangejong, the Life and Peace village".

Sign the Avaaz petition:
Avaaz: http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_jeju_island/?fiSBccb&pv=28

Boycott Samsung:
There are other reasons why Samsung should be boycotted:
Boycott Samsung website: http://stopsamsung.wordpress.com/
Paste a message on their facebook wall: http://www.facebook.com/samsunglove

Write to the Villagers:
Mayor Kang, Civic Offices, Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, South Korea


24 February 2012
First report from Gangjeong
By Angie Zelter
Trident Ploughshares

http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1660

135 full bows of prayers for peace at Destruction Gate

Trident Ploughshares member Angie Zelter is supporting villagers in their fight to stop the building of a US nuclear base on Jeju, the South Korean “Island of Peace”. The new base just 300-miles from the Chinese mainland will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers fitted with the missile defence systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning. Gangjeong village and endangered soft-coral reefs will be destroyed to build the base. Here is Angie’s first report.

Praying at destruction gate
The villagers of Gangjeong have welcomed us with open arms. We are around 45 internationals from 12 different countries who have come in response to the village’s invitation and plea for support. I have never been in a village so united against a military base. There are flags and beautiful banners everywhere declaring this a village for peace and life. Art work and murals are along the road and now decorating the obscene wall going up around the construction site which they call the destruction site. These celebrate the natural beauty of the area especially the rare corals, dolphins and crabs in the sea and the fresh water springs and rich agricultural way of life of the area which is famous for its citrus fruit.

Today we took part in the Buddhist/Catholic prayer outside the main destruction gate - 135 full bows of prayers for peace. Later back at the village community centre, which is dominated by pictures of the nonviolent struggle and a display of dolls of the major village characters engaged in the resistance, we heard from the old people of the village - old men and women of 80 plus years who talk of their sorrow at the destruction of their coastline, which was so beautiful and is now being blasted to build a huge naval base for the US to build yet another of their military bases surrounding China. They also talk of the broken community life and divisions in the family caused by the 5 years of resistance, where so many villagers have been imprisoned. In the evening we heard from more villagers and through song and dance of the resistance and the Mayor spoke to us as did a former Governor of Jeju who was apologetic that he could do so little to stop the destruction. Young and old come together most evenings to sing and dance and plan their resistance together.

Yesterday we had been taken around the the Jeju April 3 Peace Park which had been established as a means of compensating Jeju communities for the damage and loss incurred in the April 3rd 1948 Incident. This history is crucial to understanding the villagers present anger and resistance. In brief, Jeju was fortified by the Japanese in the 2nd World War and 60,000 Jeju men were taken by force to Japan to work in their factories. When the Japanese flag was eventually taken down after the war it was immediately replaced by the US flag and the US military Government worked to ensure the division of north from south Korea which eventually led to the Korean War and continuing conflict. Jeju people refused to vote for this separation and became known as the ’red island’. When Jeju people’s demonstrations were halted by police killing 6 people and the following general strike was cruelly put down, some young people were arrested and tortured and this led to a small armed uprising which then enabled the US Military Government to order a tough crackdown operation. 4 months later over one ninth of the population had been killed (30,000 people), 84 villages razed to the ground and a scorched earth policy over the whole island which thousands becoming refugees in the mountains and which left the island traumatised. After this they were not allowed to talk about the massacre and it was not until 2005 that the Government of Korea officially reported on it and President Roh Mee-hyun apologised for the Korean Government’s part. (The US has never apologised nor has it been officially investigated. ) The President then declared the Island of Jeju an ’Island of Peace in order to sublimate the hurts of the Jeju incident with a spirit of reconciliation and make it a symbol of peace and human rights’ . The peace museum was then allowed to be built to record the testimonies and detail the historical record.

But it was only 2 years later that a deal was made with the US to build a military base on the island! The villagers are aware that if this base is built that other military bases are likely to follow in the planned future US war against China. They look at the ring of US bases around China and note that China does not have even one military base outside of China. They truly want peace and say you cannot have it by preparing for war. They want the present area now being destroyed for the military to be transformed into a peace park instead. Today we are holding a press conference outside the main gate of the military construction site and then a group of internationals will enter the base and try to reach the sacred Gureombi rocky site which is being prepared for blasting. There is so much more to tell you about but little time to spend at a computer ..........

love Angie.
 


27 February 2012
Second report from Gangjeong
By Angie Zelter
Trident Ploughshares

http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1661

Angie Zelter is in Korea supporting the people of Ganjeong Village in their struggle to stop the destruction of Jeju Island where the South Korean military has begun construction of a naval base which will be the port for the US Navy’s Aegis Destroyers.

What an amazing day yesterday was . The villagers feel very supported and happy with our contribution. We held a joint press conference at the main gate that was closed for us and when none of the Korean, US, Samsung or others involved in the building of the naval base were willing to come and talk to us we proceeded to the destruction gate and demonstrated there. Then locals and internationals paddled their canoes from the dock for a half hour and got to the sacred rocks of Gureombi. While others were putting up flags I slowly walked along the razor wire until I managed to find a place where I could wriggle through the razor wire and get on the other side before the police could reach me. The plan had been for as many of us as possible to do this but the razor wire was rather intimidating. The villagers say the wire is illegal and the rocks are all theirs.

Slowly making my way back to the others we were all together only separated bythe wire. More and more villagers joined us and they took part in a religious service and then held a meeting. We sang songs - the Korean singing is wonderful but we added our own Swedish, Japanese and other songs. I sang ’They say our lands are out of our hands - our lives and our futures are out of our hands, this land is not yours to put boundaries around, we’ll stay and get stronger our voices resound’ - which went down very well. The atmosphere was fantastic and the sun came out for the first time. The volcanic rock is quite an amazing ecosystem.

After an hour or so another international Benjie from France managed to join me on the other side of the wire and after another few hours we managed to find a way to get others in. We were all arrested but I refused to give my real name calling myself ’Save Jeju’ and refused to accept or sign for a fine and was eventually released without charge - maybe because I reminded the police of their duties under international law not to support preparations for a war of aggression or for basing nuclear weapons at this place! 12 internationals (2 from UK, 4 from USA, I from France, I from Ireland, 1 from New Zealand and 2 from Sweden) and 10 Koreans were arrested in various ways and 20 taken to 2 police stations. Many of the villagers joined us outside the local police station for more press work and a support vigil. The riot police were sent to contain us as we blockaded the prison entrances. Young male Koreans have to serve for 2 years and are often conscripted into the riot police and they seemed to be practising instigating riots! It was a most interesting experience. There was singing and dancing and random police snatches and some of the village singers were also arrested plus their gongs and drums. But we maintained a highly visible and sometimes noisy protest until everyone was released and we managed to negotiate for all the banners and instruments to be returned.

I must say how absolutely impressed I am by the organisation of this village’s resistance. They have the support of the majority of the village and not only did they manage to ferry even non canoe paddlers out to the rocks, but provided hot food and drink (delicious!) at the rocks and outside the police station. It was when the mattresses and blankets appeared and the candles were lit that the most violent riot police charge happened!! Some of them screamed abuse back and swore at the police (there is a different mode of protest here!) and some of us sang and sat down - our different methods merged well. Local supportive lawyers helped out. I am now off to Jeju City for yet another protest - press conference. Please ring or email the US and Korean Embassies and ask them to stop the blasting of the Gureombi Rocks for a military base. The villagers want a peace park not a war base. Bruce from global Network has been writing his blog and there are videos too - see http://space4peace.blogspot.com/


28 February 2012
Third report from Gangjeong
By Angie Zelter
Trident Ploughshares

http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1670

Yesterday we internationals went into Jeju City for a press conference so that the Mayor of Gangjeong could explain the situation and internationals could make statements as to why they were supporting the villagers struggle against war and for peace.

We then went to City Hall and the Global Network folk presented a letter to to the Governor of Jeju - you can see the letter at the end of this report. We held banners outside while the letter was delivered. A local supporter in the city then treated us to a wonderful lunch. The restaurant owner often goes to the village with food donations and is one of many Jeju Island supporters. As we were traveling back to Gangjeong we learned what a small place the island is - only around half a million people - many people being related or having gone to school together - and this means that local pressure can be applied even to the police. Maybe this is why there have been 6 changes of police chiefs in the last 7 months!

Over 1000 mainland police were drafted in last August/September last year and this is deeply worrying as mainland police have not been sent to Jeju since the 1948 massacre when they were implicated in the many tortures that were carried out. The pressure is definitely increasing as the resistance has grown and even though the last Jeju Island police chief had more than 100 villagers arrested in the last couple of months this has been seen as too lenient. Only 4 days ago he was replaced by a mainland police man from the riot police unit. This was after the President of South Korea stated that the naval base project must continue. There are elections this April for the National Assembly and we are informed that it is likely that opposition groups will get in and they have all pledged to review the project.

On arriving back to the village we went straight to the port as we were told the police had been preventing locals from taking canoes out to the Gureombi rocks to pray and four villagers including Mr. Cho Kyung-Chul (Co-vice mayor), Mr. Kim Gab- Deuk (a Village elder) and Mr. Kim Young- Woo and Mr. Kim Young-Sam had all been arrested. (A vigil is tasking place at the police station as I write). For more details, the facebook named No Naval Base on Jeju is reliable.

After taking a few pictures and handing my coat and boots to Miki (my Japanese friend) I grabbed a life-jacket and behind the backs of the police entered the water - it was not as cold as I had expected, luckily - and swam out to great cheers. This is something the local protesters often do but it was encouraging for them to see an international resisting too and this is what we are here for - to give encouragement to the locals who are tired out after 5 years of intense opposition.

Benjie soon joined me and he climbed onto some nearby tetra-pods (as the huge concrete blocks are called) while I went through the port entrance managing to avoid the police boats by keeping close to the rocks. The life-jacket enabled me to rest from time to time and after about half an hour I came across 2 local activists in their canoes who had been there a while and were determined to spend the night on the rocks. They took me a little further by canoe and I then continued on land around the razor wire being followed at all times by 3 or 4 riot police which meant I could not crawl through as before.

I had a chance to enjoy the star fish, crabs, and fish in the rock pools and the diving birds and also the many springs of fresh water that the area is famous for - protesting always has these special moments! A little later I saw a navy diver emerge from the water with a measuring tape - we think this must be preparations for further blasting.

Making my way back after a few hours I found Dr Song Kang Ho with a canoe. He is a strong and committed protester and features in the film you can see here. He offered me a lift back to the dock and said how much he and the village appreciated what I was doing and how it is energizing them. He said I was very brave - I certainly do not feel that way as it is much easier for internationals than for locals. But the genuine appreciation of the villagers has already made my stay here worthwhile and I thank all of you who have contributed and made this possible.

As we arrived back in the port we could see many canoes being held by police on their boats. I asked the Doctor to take me to the side of a police launch and I clambered clumsily aboard (I know I really need to lose some weight!) and went across to the policeman hanging on to a paddle and preventing the canoe from getting away. I asked him to stop preventing the peaceful protest and when he did not I started gently undoing his fingers and talking about the issues. Many of the police understand English. Another policeman hauled me off but I told him I was peaceful and smiled and he soon let me go and I quickly climbed up on the top of the cabin amid shouts to get down. I refused and kept clinging on to the railings until they had let the canoes go and then I agreed to get down and quickly jumped in the water again and swam ashore.

By this time I was shivering violently with the cold and it was getting dark, so went for a hot bath and sleep. I was exhausted. Today I am catching up on emails as the rest of the internationals go back home. I am glad I am free enough to be able to stay. Miki, will soon arrive back here to give me news of her visit to the prison in Jeju City where Prof. Yang Yoon-mo (who was arrested in December last year) is on his 20th day of hunger strike. Everyone is very worried about his health as he is still weakened by his previous 70 day hunger strike only last year. The repression is getting worse and outside observers and activists are needed. If you know of anyone who can come and join in the actions or as human rights observers then please let me know. Any letters that you can write to the US and South Korean Embassies in London would also be appreciated.

Love Angie.

More reports:

Fourth Report (3 March) http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1671
Urgent Message from Gangjeon Village! (5 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1672
Fifth Report (5 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1673
Sixth Report (8 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1674
British Nobel Peace Prize Nominee arrested in South Korean naval base protest (10 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1675
Seventh Report: 29 Activists Break Through fence (11 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1676
16 People Arrested in the Gureombi Rock (12 March) - http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1677
Eighth Report (16 March) -  http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1679


4 March 2012
Text of the Letter to the Governor
We urge Governor of Jeju to stop the illegal construction of Jeju Naval Base,
and completely re-evaluate the project.

http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1669


Dear Governor Woo,

We are peace activists from many different countries attending the International Peace Conference which was held in Gangjeong village and the 4.3 Peace Museum. We are deeply concerned with the series of incidents surround the naval base issue. We urge you to act decisively and stop the construction.

We were shocked to see so many errors found by the Technical Verification Committee of of Jeju Naval Base/Military-Civil Compound Tourism Port. Given the results of the Technical Verification Report, it was clear that the lay-out of the Base was NOT designed to serve a dual purpose despite the Navy’s original proposal. However, the report is missing the critical and rational conclusion, which is re-evaluation of the entire project. This fact alone should be enough to stop the illegal construction. On February 22nd President Lee, Myeong-Bak made it clear during a press conference that the construction of base will continue no matter what. Immediately follwoing the press conference, relevant vice-Ministers held a meeting and discussed how to restart the base construction. Once again we were shocked to hear this news. The most important obligation for the ministers of government is to protect people’s lives and property and to secure the public order and justice. But the decision made by the high government officials completely goes against their

. On February 23rd Bruce Cumings, the chair-professor at the University of Chicago in United States said the following, “If war breaks out between China-and the U.S. over Taiwan, the U.S. will likely use Jeju Naval Base for the war. This means that China will likely attack Korea in reponse. This scenario is very dangerous. Obama has withdrawn U.S. troops out of Iraq, but the U.S. is still concentrating its force in Pacific. This is ultimately related to China.” He emphasized that Jeju Naval Base will be used as part of U.S. war strategies to defeat China. We are all in complete agreement with Prof. Cumings’s opinion, and we would like to express our concerns over the Naval Base construction.

Dear Governor, We are also aware of the fact that the Jeju municipal court found guilty and sentenced Father Moon, Jeong-Hyeon and 3 other clergy members on Feb. 24. Since last April more than 220 villagers, including peace activists, have been arrested and 15 have been imprisoned for peacefully protesting. The movie critic, Yang, Yoon-Mo has initiated his second indefinite hunger strike within a year, a potentially deadly affair. All of these events gravely disturb us. We believe that the construction of naval base, which doesn’t receive any support from Gangjeong villagers and Korean citizens, will ultimately end up failing and will only leave many side-effects behind. Many military base construction sites around the world are a testament to this.

Governor Woo, You can stop the illegal construction of Jeju Naval Base by making decision to re-evaluate the Navy’s original proposal. We firmly believe that Gangjeong villagers’ peaceful lives and the pristine nature of Jeju deserve to be protected. Building the naval base does not ensure the security of both Jeju and South Korea. Korean peninsula is becoming potentially one of the largest “powder kegs” in the world. Let us reverse the course that we are presently on, away from war and insecurity, and let Jeju represent a transition to disarmament and peace.

Once again, we urge you to make courageous decision to call re-evaluation of the original plan and stop illegal construction of Jeju Naval Base.

We wish you and your family the best of health.

Signed on the 27th February 2012 by

Bruce Gagnon (US) Coordinator of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space;
Dave Webb (UK) Convener of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space;
Atsushi Fujioka (Japan) Board Member of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space;
Mary Beth Sullivan (US) Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space;
Denis Apel (US) Campaigner against the missions of Vandenberg Air Force Base, California;
Oh Kwang Hyun (Korean resident in Japan) Priest of Protestant Church, Osaka;
Mariko Kuroki (Japan) Network Cosmopolitan, Japan; Natasha Mayers (US) Artist/Co-founder of the Union of Maine Visual Artists;
Angie Zelter (UK) Peace & Environmental Campaigner/founder of International Women’s Peace Service;
Kiyoko Matsuno (Japan) Japanese citizen in solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers.
On behalf of all the 28 participants present in the Jeju International Peace Conference, Feb 24-26, 2012.


16 March 2012
Report on Peace Confrerence at Gangjeong Village
By Catherine Christie (missionary in Seoul)
Amnesty G48

http://aikg48.wordpress.com/


Members of Amnesty G48 travelled down to Jeju in late February to attend the Jeju International Peace Conference. Following the conference, we learned more about the nonviolent struggle of the local villagers against the naval base construction taking place in their backyard. Following the scheduled conference activities, some of our members joined the protestors as individuals. Two such members share their reflections here.

12 people from mainland Korea (mostly Seoul) and affiliated with the Seoul Amnesty G48 group attended the Jeju International Peace Conference March 24-26, which was also attended by 15 members of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space from US, England, Sweden, India and Japan.

 This was my third visit to Gangjeong for which I consider myself truly blessed.  Each time I have gone has been both inspiration and unsettling.

5 of us arrived on Friday evening, missing many of the talks given at the 4.3 Peace Park during Friday.  We arrived at Minbak Seobu, the others came from the conference, and as we began to get to know each other, Benji (of the Village International Team) came to tell us the Global Network group were just having a strategy meeting, and inviting Pat and I (as the Elders of our group) to sit with them.  These people are all experienced activists, used to confronting the military-industrial powers and demonstrating the moral bankruptcy of governments that support the military-industrial powers against their own people, communities and life and peace in the world.  These people we were sitting with were in Gangjeong to carry out a visible action, and arrest is an expected outcome, even welcome as it is newsworthy.  That night they brainstormed ideas and sketched out the outline of the Sunday action.

Saturday morning there was a session at the Village Hall, presentations by three international presenters and then discussion with villagers about the resistance.  We broke at 11:30 to meet the Catholic priests at the construction gate where they had finished Mass but were performing 153 bows, which the Koreans call deep bows, but are full  prostrations.  Luckily for us, we arrived when they were at about 120, so we only had 30 to do.   It is a very powerful emotional/spiritual experience.  Back to the Village Hall on shaky legs for a delicious lunch, then met for trip around the village. 

We began at the eastern shore beyond the fencing.  Oh, so much barbed wire – no, razor wire – rolls and rolls of it.  Just where the trees and the rocks meet is the place where the community gathers to greet the ancestors.  We had a chance to experience that action, and the words of a Sweet Honey in the Rock song came to me, “We are the breath of the ancestors”.  Each step from eastern shore to the harbor in the west was significant, as we saw walls, concrete structures, destructive machinery, but also hope, wonderful murals, the garden in the Peace Park, the beautiful eternal sea.

Evening vigil – every evening the villagers gather.  It is amazing, inspirational, fun.  Speeches, singing, dancing.  Mayor Kang Dong Kyun received an award on behalf of the village presented by Dave Webb of Global Network for their work for peace.

Back to minbak for strategy meeting.  Two groups would attempt to get to Gureombi, one by land through or under the fence, the other by kayak.  They would breach the wire, maybe cut it.  I was not going to go.  Why?  I live here, but in a month I am going to Canada for an extended time away, and did not want to jeopardize being allowed back into the country.  I hadn’t talked to anyone about what might be possible implications in that way.  Therefore, when someone asked who would keep a list of names and keep track of the people, be responsible for possibly making contacts with outside world, I was very glad to volunteer.

Sunday – there was going to be Mass on Gureombi at 7 a.m.  I was at the harbour at 6:30, but the Mass was canceled due to waves.  I was disappointed.  In August I had worshipped on Gureombi, and maybe I will not again.  (No, as we sang, “deep in my heart, I do believe, Gureombi will be free one day”)

Sunday at 10 – Press conference at construction (destruction) gate.  Mary Beth Sullivan and her heart-felt grief at militarization that threatens community in so many places throughout the world, Toshio Takahashi who brought his grandson’s Charlie Brown Friendship towel to symbolize making the world safe for the coming generations, Dave Webb’s firm request to hold the Global Network annual meeting on Gureombi.  When no one responded to his request, a march to the main gate where we pounded and demanded entry.  No one came, but we formed to sing and encourage each other.  May I share two songs I hadn’t heard in many years?  Thanks, Agneta and Angie.

“You can forbid almost anything, but you can’t forbid me to think.  You can’t forbid the sun to shine, and you can’t close my mouth when I sing” Other verses: “forbid the grass to grow, the rain to fall, my tears to fall”

“You say this land is out of bounds, our lives and our futures beyond our command.  This land isn’t yours to put boundaries around.  We’ll stand and get stronger, our voices resound”

A few minutes of futile conversation with a police representative, and then the groups started off. A few of us from Seoul, and some of the Japanese delegates  gathered on the wharf after seeing the kayakers off.  We had binoculars to watch what was taking place on Gureombi.  We watched and watched for the land team, and then suddenly, they were also at the launch ramp and the kayaks were coming back to meet them.  It was much later we found out what happened.  Our role for much of the time was to encourage the kayakers, who had heavy swells to go through, and were making trip after trip.  We would shout encouragement to them and they would call back to us.

We saw the police presence ebb and flow.  We watched Mass celebrated and meeting held, and then we saw the breach of the wire and that some were taken by the police, and the kayaks started back at full speed.  We raced to the launch ramp to meet them.  I received a phone call from Tom and was able to tell him the Minbyun lawyer was on the way to the police station to meet them. As soon as all the internationals were back, we piled in a van which took us to Sogwipo Police Station, and were met by a solid line of police across the entrance.  But we settled on the pavement in front of them, while the International team leaders sought information.  The first line of police with shields were replaced by a second with chest and arm protectors, and a third with helmets as well.  Gulp!  Preparing for something!

My mind was full of memories of August, when I visited Gangjeong the first time.  During that day someone from the village had been arrested and the candlelight vigil had been held in front of the police station, where we were sitting.  Would they again?

Well, the good food preparation team from Gangjeong arrived with a wonderful meal which they set out by the sidewalk and we feasted.  Then more arrived, and candles.  Ah yes.  But that time, the police had all been behind the fence – this time they were very aggressive.  Suddenly our banners were being stomped on, the police were pushing forward and we had to scramble to get the food pots up on the sidewalk, candles were scattered.  We did our best, we tried to sing, but the police invaded the sidewalk as well, and started arresting Korean participants.  I texted some people in Seoul to tell them what was going on.

It was very cold and frightening.  However, about 10:00 the word came the prisoners were being released, and soon the four internationals and two of the Koreans came out (the other 5 had been taken to Jeju City station).  We found out they had not expected the group to be there waiting, so it was a jubilant greeting.  I phoned Sung Hee at Jeju City,  the other group had also been released and were on their way home.

Later we met for debriefing at the minbak – all most exhausted and emotionally drained, but determined.  We listened to Sung Hee setting out the future dangers – the drainage work is nearly done, the permit for dynamiting will be applied for – it should be two weeks before it is approved – and the whole process of blasting beautiful Gureombi will take a total time of 6 months.  The dynamite is already purchased; the team knows where it is being stored.

We agreed to work together to create an International Week of Action for September 6-15, when the International Union for Conservation of Nature is holding a major convention just a few minutes away from Gangjeong.

The next morning, with hearts weighted with fears for our friends, the internationals began to leave.

Deep and heartfelt thanks to the village leaders and elders who welcomed us, to the International Team who planned such an event, to the hospitality of the wonderful meal brigade and all the villagers, to all the brave resisters, and to the Spirit of Resistance that strengthens you all.

Protest on Gureombi
By Pat Cunningham

I just had the most amazing experience this past weekend! I attended the 20th annual Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space conference in Gangjeong, Jeju Island!

A number of peace activists from Britain including Angie Zelter (Britain) who is nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Bruce Gagnon (USA) and Dave Webb (Britain), the chair of the Global Network were among the 28 international activists in attendance numbering around 70 in total.  The incredible energy coupled with the spirit of peaceful resistance that the international visitors brought reassured the villagers that their struggle to reclaim Gangjeong from the war machine was not just their own separate, isolated struggle but was the struggle of all concerned global citizens!  The extraordinary spirit of the villagers has left an indelible impression. The hospitality and warm welcome afforded to all to rally to this cause was extraordinary-each night there was a candle light vigil interspersed with song, dance and words of hope and encouragement assuring the villagers all the while that they were not alone in their struggle against the might of this military machine. On the contrary we would remain united in peaceful resistance until such time that this madness would stop!

The Global network conference was followed by a protest and direct action resulting in the arrest and detention of 20 Korean and International peace activists! 11 international activists including myself were released without charge after a 6-7 hour investigation! Many who attended the conference participated in this direct action hoping to strike a small blow at the heart of increasing militarization in the Asia Pacific Region and around the world-approx.1000 US bases worldwide and counting!!  We were reminded that the building of the base in this once peaceful village of Gangjeong is part of a wider geopolitical strategy on the part of the US government of encircling China and Russia with Aegis destroyers carrying missile ‘defense’ systems causing much alarm and concern to all. We were told that Gangjeong is at the heart of the struggle for world peace and this was illustrated in a very significant way by the attendance of so many peace activists from around the world.

We witnessed first hand the already devastating effects the construction of the base is having in terms of dividing the once close knit community, driving a wedge between families, onetime friends and neighbours! The concrete jungle that the coastline has become with concrete casings, tetra pods, earth moving equipment and cranes scattered across the beautiful landscape is a dreadful eyesore causing one to ponder the devastation that has already resulted. However, the most frightening scenario is that if the blast of the Gureombi rock (an area roughly 800m long and 150 m wide) proceeds as planned over the next few weeks the resulting toxic pollution despite efforts to contain it will undoubtedly cause untold damage to the soft coral reef and marine life off the coastline. It could possibly render to extinction the already rare species of red feet crab and destroying the habitat and playground of the ‘pink nosed’ dolphin! The rock of Gureombi has sacred significance for the villagers as it is a ‘living rock’ and therefore intimately tied up with their identity as a village people – a place where people from the 400 year old village used to celebrate their ceremonial rites. ‘Gangjeong is Gureombi’ we were told more than once! Divisions in the community coupled with the ongoing daily tensions that the villagers have been subjected to are tearing away at the fabric of this once close knit community meaning that the people have been unable to conduct their ceremonial rites for five years now.

The celebration of Mass on the rock has been a regular feature of the resistance. It was celebrated as normal that Sunday afternoon although with a difference. This time a major feature was the presence of many members of the Global Network and other international activists among the many local villagers who made the 25 min trip by kayak. Entrance from land had been cut off despite the best efforts of the designated land group. Two activists- Angie Zelter (Britain) and Benjamin Monnet (France) had already breached the razor wire fence and were ‘waiting’ inside closely monitored by numerous police officers.

The Mass on the gurombi rock led by Fr. Moon on the afternoon sought to bring hope and determination to the spirit of peaceful resistance among all those in attendance. Angie Zelter spoke incredibly movingly from across the razor wire and addressing the crowd she mentioned the incredible irony of how governments in addressing the security needs of their people only think about ramping up their so-called military ‘defenses’ increasing military expenditure and in ratcheting up military tension ultimately leaves no prospect of providing real security which can only be found in people’s access to healthy food, water, medial care and education.  She spoke about how she was able to exploit the weakness in the razor wire allowing her to gain access which was her right. One could get the feeling that she was calling on all of us to be brave and not allow this illegal razor wire fencing deny our right of access to this public area. I felt buoyed and fired up by her call.

 It was extraordinary to see how life giving and hopeful the celebration was on that Sunday afternoon to numerous people gathered from around the world – many faith traditions and none, many people of faith and no religion all gathered together under the one cause-all singing from the same hymn sheet calling on the Korean and US governments to stop this destruction. We were singing as concerned global citizens seeking to live in peace without the constant threat of war hanging over our heads. It is heartbreaking to see this beautiful place being desecrated but we found hope from the spirit of the celebration and proceeded to make our move which saw 16 in total breach the fence.   We then proceeded in determined fashion buoyed by reserves of energy received from the ‘celebration’ on the rock in following Angie Zelter and a French activist. Soon we ended up being arrested and being carted away to the police station-a significant victory for the struggle in the face of the military machine.

We also poignantly remembered during the celebration Professor Yang Yoon Mo who is into his 23nd day of hunger strike. His memory was at the forefront of my mind. He is determined to stick to his promise to come off all salt and water if the blasting of the rock is initiated. It is therefore vital that as peace activists we strengthen our alliances with peace loving people around the world in ensuring we do what we can to prevent a calamitous situation from arising! Peace!


 



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