"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SAVE JEJU ISLAND: Protest at Seattle Korean Consulate April 30th

POST UPDATE: Click this link to find out how the protest went, see photos, AND read the Korean Consul General's response : http://psnukefree.blogspot.com/2012/05/protest-at-seattle-korean-consulate-to.html

Please join South Korean artist and peace activist Gillchun Koh, Bruce Gagnon, and others on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Seattle Korean Consulate in a protest against the construction of a new naval base on Jeju Island.

This naval base is unnecessary, a drain on our economy ($$$$$$$), will destabilize relations (both South Korean and U.S.) with China, and will put the people of Jeju Island at risk as a strategic target for China.

Please read further to understand the important history of Jeju Island as well as the importance of stopping construction of this base.

History (The April 3 Massacre)

30,000 people murdered!!!  Jeju Island is known as the "Island of World Peace," a name that does not begin to tell the story of the Island's extensive history of conflict, occupation, repression and genocide. The most horrific episode in this history began in 1948 when the South Korean military and national police hunted down and slaughtered approximately 30,000 people. The U.S., which was the occupying power at the time, did nothing to stop what is now known as the April 3 massacre.

Why did the government do such a horrific thing? 1948 was a tumultuous time of establishing two governments in Korea. The people of Jeju Island rose up to protest the long-term division of the nation by boycotting the elections that were occurring in Seoul. For this they were branded as Communists, and the terror began.

For decades following the massacre, public discussion of the April 3 massacre was ruthlessly repressed. Following democratization, the slow and painful process of fact finding and truth telling began, and continues today. In 2003, South Korean President Noh Moo Hyun travelled to Jeju Island and officially apologized.

History Repeats Itself Today

Now, over 60 years after the April 3 massacre the people of Jeju Island are once again protesting. This time they are protesting the U.S. Missile Defense System and a provocative new naval base being built on their island. Why??? If you look at a map of Jeju Island, you can see that it lies about 500 kilometers West of China. This military base is intended to project force towards China and to provide a forward operating installation in the event of a military conflict between the U.S. and China.

For five years, South Korean activists have been protesting the plans for the new naval base on Jeju Island. During that time the response by the South Korean police and military has become more heavy-handed and brutal. Col. Anne Wright (former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department) reported that earlier this month "police broke arms of activists who had locked arms inside PCV pipes, beat up activists and threw them from kayaks."

A Global Context

(Excerpt from article by Noam Chomsky and Matthew Hoey: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_opinion/498743.html)

The last thing the world needs is a military confrontation between the U.S. and China. On that dreaded eventuality, there is no need to elaborate. In terms of its implications, what is now taking place on Jeju island counts as one of the most critical struggles against a potentially devastating war in Asia, and the deeply-rooted institutional structures that are driving the world towards even more bitter conflict than is raging in all too many places today.

It is important to become aware of what is happening on Jeju Island and to find ways to help the residents to prevent this very dangerous and destructive project. The consequences of losing the struggle to prevent the base construction might impact not only Asia but the United States and the rest of the world as well. The project is naturally seen by China as a threat to its national security. At the very least, it is likely to trigger confrontation and an arms race between South Korea and China, with the U.S. almost inevitably drawn in.

The immediate threat is to Jeju Island civilians, whose home was recently described in a South Korean daily as “the spearhead of the country’s defense line,” a line recklessly located approximately 500km from China.

We need not speculate about how the U.S. would react were China doing something similar near its coast.

Join us on April 30th

The situation on Jeju Island is important not only to its residents, but to us all!

This protest will send an important message to the South Korean government that is watching to see how the world reacts to the situation on Jeju Island.

Please join us in front of the South Korean Consulate at 4:00 PM on Monday, April 30th. We hope to have a massive turnout to send a strong message that we support efforts at diplomacy and peace and not continuing preparations for war.

I will post any updates on the protest (right up to the day of protest) at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Events page (www.psnukefree.org).

Please bring your nonviolent spirit, as well as protest signs (we ask that signs be nonviolent in nature and focus directly on the issues relating to Jeju Island). Learn more at the Save Jeju Island website (www.savejejuisland.org).

The Korean Consulate is located at 2033 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121 (between Lenora and Virginia). It is well-served by public transportation, and there is ample paid parking available on-street and in nearby parking lots.

I recently met Gillchun, and I am humbled by his deep commitment to peace and healing of Jeju Island.  Bruce Gagnon (Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space) and I will stand in solidarity with him on April 30th, sending a united message to the government of South Korea (and the U.S.).  I hope you will too.



POST UPDATE: Click this link to find out how the protest went, see photos, AND read the Korean Consul General's response : http://psnukefree.blogspot.com/2012/05/protest-at-seattle-korean-consulate-to.html

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