Police deployed to fortify Jeju base construction site

Posted on : 2011-09-02 11:51 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
As opposition to the base swells, the local council urged the government to seek a resolution rather than using force
 Sept. 2. (Yonhap News) 
Sept. 2. (Yonhap News) 

A priest hangs on an excavator to obstruct construction at the site of the controversial base on Jeju Island
A priest hangs on an excavator to obstruct construction at the site of the controversial base on Jeju Island

By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju Correspondent 

  

Police were deployed on Sept. 2 to Gangjeong Village in the Jeju Island municipality of Seogwipo, the site of an ongoing occupation in opposition to the construction of a naval base.

At around 5:10 a.m., Seogwipo Police Station sent around 600 officers into Gangjeong Village, where the base is due to be built, to surround and seal off Jungdeok Junction, which was occupied by 80-100 activists. The police stated that they had deployed force in order to prevent acts obstructing construction work because the navy had resumed construction early that morning, sending in excavators to the site.

Protesters clashed with police, sitting in shoulder-to-shoulder on the road, shouting slogans and blocking the police’s path. Around 30 people, including two priests, were reportedly taken away by police.

Prior to this, on Sept. 1 at the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy‘s (PSPD) Neutinamu Hall in Seoul’s Jongno District, a conference in opposition to the base construction formed by 120 civic organizations, including PSPD and the Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU), held a ceremony to proclaim civic action to “embrace” Gureombi (the planned site of the base). The conference urged the government to cease construction of the base and resolve the matter peacefully.

“Although the court granted an injunction banning acts obstructing construction of the naval base, this does not constitute grounds for the government, the navy, prosecutors or police to forcibly proceed with resuming construction or deploying personnel,” the groups stated. “On Sept. 3, an ‘Airplane of Peace’ carrying 170 people and around 20 ‘Buses of Peace’ will keep the peace in Gangjeong Village through non-violent, peaceful actions such as visiting the village.”

At around the same time, the village council held a press conference at Jungdeok Haean junction and stated that it would urge cessation of construction of the base by holding cultural events by the sea at Gureombi and at other places around the village with the approximately 1,000 people due to assemble there from around the country on Sept. 3.

On the same day, Jeju Special Self-governing Provincial Council also issued a statement demanding, “The government itself must step forward as the main player in resolving the situation, search for a peaceful solution and refrain from using deploying force.”

A joint meeting of 43 groups including Sarangbang Group for Human Rights also held a press conference at Gangjeong Village and urged the release of village head Kang Dong-gyun and other arrested residents and activists, as well as a withdrawal of the police’s ban on gatherings.

Police, who had sent reinforcements of around 450 riot police and other officers to Jeju the previous day, arrested 27-year-old Gangjeong resident Kim Min-su and two other people who had gone to visit the detained villagers, furthering the atmosphere of martial law in the village.

  

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