A friend of mine, Sung-Hee Choi, a sister peace activist in South Korea, was recently arrested May 17, along with seven other leaders protesting construction of a navy base on Jeju Island. I have linked my heart in solidarity with her in this struggle because I understand that a line has to be drawn in the sand at Jeju Island, stopping further construction of military bases for the U.S. to threaten Asia.
There is determined resistance from the people on Jeju Island who do not want their way of life destroyed, nor the precious coral reefs at Jeju Island , which has been a sacred island for the Korean people. It has also been a place for tourists to vacation, honeymooners, summer music festivals and all kinds of joyful gatherings incompatible with a military base. It is a sacred place, a world heritage site, one of the world's treasures.
Jeju Island is a gateway to Asia in the same way that Alcatraz is a gateway to North America. Alcatraz has been a sacred island for Native American people in California for thousands of years, although it has now been desacrated by the federal prison built there, which although presently shut down, still stands and serves as a tourist attraction. We must stop Jeju Island going the way of Alcatraz.
As a peace visionary, I understand Jeju Island and what happens there is a major key to our collective future. If the naval base that the U.S. insists the South Koreans build there is constructed, I am fairly certain that the march to world war becomes inevitable.
If you want a peaceful world for your children and your grandchildren, I say resist, and resist with all your heart, construction of this military base on Jeju Island. Do not be faint of soul in this matter, nor let your fears restrain you from taking action. I hope that we don't face a future where people will regretfully say, if only we'd known, if only we'd come together sooner, if only we'd taken some action, things would not have gotten this terrible.
Bruce Gagnon (founder of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space www.space4peace.org) has started a sympathy hunger strike in solidarity with Gangjeong village resident Professor Yang Yoon-Mo. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, who is also in jail for trying to block a construction truck starting work on the military base at Jeju Island, is now in the 49th day of his hunger strike. He has vowed to die in jail unless base construction is halted.
Bruce Gagnon has asked people to take action:
"We need your help. We must show the South Korean and U.S. governments that people all over the world are following the story on Jeju very closely and care what happens. You can write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this email and demand an end of the Navy base construction. firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the South Korean Embassy at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island.
It is important to remember that the U.S. Navy will be porting Aegis destroyers (outfitted with "missile defense" systems) at this base. The proximity of the base on Jeju Island to China's shipping lanes, that they use to import 80% of their oil, is no coincidence. It is beyond obvious that this base is absolutely going to contribute to further militarization of the Asian-Pacific region and will in fact be a dangerous trigger for war."
Below is a letter that Bruce Gagnon received on recent developments on Jeju Island.
I am writing to let you know about the current situation in Gangjeong, on Jeju Island. The military and police are stepping up their efforts to silence all opposition to the naval base. This morning, 19 May, the construction companies came with their heavy equipment together with around 100 members of the police and military. They specifically came to destroy the greenhouse on the Jungdeok coast that has been occupied by protestors for several years now as well as the many banners from around Korea denouncing the naval base. Once there intentions became know, many people gathered in an attempt to stop the greenhouse and banners from being destroyed. In addition to blocking the construction equipment some people chained themselves to the greenhouse.
Even though for the moment the protestors were successful in blocking the destruction of the greenhouse and banners, due to the overwhelming force of the police, military, and construction companies, eight protestors were arrested, all important leaders in opposing the construction of the naval base, including Sung-Hee Choi.
Obviously the situation is still ever developing, but I thought you might like to know what is going on right now. Thank you for helping to spread the news about Jeju beyond Korea.
You can learn more about the protest effort on Jeju Island at http://nobasestorieskorea.blogspot.com/