Visiting US veterans say Gangjeong Naval Base won’t lead to peace

Posted on : 2015-12-09 17:10 KST Modified on : 2015-12-09 17:10 KST
Former soldiers became peace activists after objecting to US military’s aggressive actions abroad
Thirteen veterans with the group US Veterans for Peace
Thirteen veterans with the group US Veterans for Peace

More than a dozen US veterans stood in front of a soon-to-be-completed naval base on Jeju Island to voice their opposition to its construction.

The thirteen veterans with the group US Veterans for Peace, who included former Army Colonel Ann Wright, delivered a press conference in front of the base in Seogwipo City’s Gangjeong Village on Dec. 8 to send the message that naval base construction cannot bring world peace.

“The reason I stopped working for my country in 2003 was because the US had declared war on Iraq. After that day, I became an activist for peace,” explained Wright.

“The US can use all military facilities within South Korea. The Jeju naval base is also going to end up used by US forces,” she added.

Wright explained that she came to Jeju “to join the residents of Gangjeong who are sending the message that new military base construction is not acceptable.”

“The people of Gangjeong have been injured and arrested unjustly in their more than 3,000-day fight against the naval base. The US needs to stop its ’pivot to Asia‘ strategy,” Wright added.

An Afghanistan war veteran named William noted that the beautiful natural environment of Jeju “has been destroyed and continues to be destroyed by the Jeju naval base construction.”

“Peace comes from understanding and dialogue, not from military facilities and troops. A naval base on Jeju is not an answer for peace,” he said.

Also present at the press conference was former paratrooper Tarak Kauff, who was denied entry to South Korea at the time of the 2012 blasting of the island’s Gureombi Rock.

“In 2012, they wouldn’t let me into the country. I can’t understand why I was denied entry. If we want an end to militarism, we all have to join forces,” he said.

Ko Kwon-il, vice president of the Gangjeong Residents Association, also took part in the press conference.

“It doesn’t matter that the naval base construction is almost complete. We will continue fighting to the end,” he said.

By Huh Ho-joon, business correspondent

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