Grassroots international pressure pushing against Jeju naval base

Posted on : 2012-03-12 14:26 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Gangjeong Village residents oppose recent attempts to distract from base‘s damaging effects
 Gangjeong Village
Gangjeong Village

By Park Hyun-jeong, staff writer 

The international movement in opposition to the construction of a naval base in Jeju-do is growing more active.

On March 9, 45 professors, staff and other employees from 26 different countries at the UN’s University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica posted a video on YouTube urging the South Korean government to stop construction of the base. The video campaign, produced by UPEACE graduate course Mun A-yeong and Jeon Se-hyeon, features professors and students of various nationalities, including Israeli, Egyptian, Nepalese and Japanese, expressing solidarity with the base opposition movement.

“Please save the natural and ecological heritage which is such a precious gift to humanity and the world,” said 2000 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education Laureate Toh Swee-Hin. “Please do not build this naval base because it will only escalate military tensions and insecurity of all countries in the region.” In emails exchanged with the Hankyoreh, Mun A-yeong stated, “A forum on Gangjeong Village [where the base is to be built] was held at UPEACE in October last year, and we have been conducting a campaign sending emails calling for withdrawal of [plans for] the Jeju naval base to Korean ambassadors in each country and the Korean government, led by professors and students that took part in the forum. The video campaign, too, was an extension of this, and we rushed to finish it on March 8 when we heard the news that rock blasting had started at Gureombi Rocks.”

Meanwhile, residents of Gangjeong Village and peace activists have begun calling for an end to attacks on Unified Progressive Party youth delegate Kim Ji-yun after controversy erupted after she called the site on Jeju a “pirate base”. In a statement issued on Saturday, Catholic Priest Mon Jeong-hyeon and others criticized the attacks on Kim, saying, “‘Pirate’ is a term that Gangjeong Village residents and activists have been using as an expression of anger at the forcible construction of the naval base by the Lee Myung-bak government and naval authorities. Attacking Kim is a way of glossing over public opposition to the construction of the Jeju base by taking issue with the expression ‘pirate’.”

A collection of progressive civic groups such as Minkahyup (an NGO that supports political prisoners) and the Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities also issued a statement on Friday demanding a halt to both the witch hunt targeting Kim Ji-yun and the forcible construction of the naval base.

 

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