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South Korean Villagers Continue Resistance to Aegis Destroyer Naval Base Construction; Mayor Arrested & Released Without Charge
Activists from Gangjeong village on JeJu Island, Korea, are struggling to prevent construction of a naval base which will damage the coral reefs and the residents' local agricultural lifestyle. The base will also be used for deployment of naval Aegis destroyers. They will be outfitted with missile defense systems to surround and provoke China, making Jeju Island a prime target for military retaliation. Sung-Hee Choi wrote:
If you saw Bruce Gagnon’s email on the final appeal about the Jeju naval base construction, about 600 people from 30 countries have currently signed to his petition.
We, Koreans gratefully thank Bruce Gagnon, and you, for your solidarity. Thank you for flooding the South Korean government with messages of solidarity to pressure them. We have received at least 50 solidarity messages from the various countries specially after the police/navy raid on Gangjeong village on Jan. 18.
Some were from the Aegis Destroyer workers and former Air force officers in the United States military. The International solidarity news covered all the main Jeju media as one of the top news, with the citation of many messages, translated in Korean.
We were happily overwhelmed by all your kindness and warm hearts. That really encouraged us, and we ask for your continued actions to help us resist the naval base construction. Now is the time to re-double our efforts. Please help us!
Jeju Island Village Attacked by Police and Bulldozers; Your Support Urgently Needed - Actions Listed Below
By Sung-Hee Choi | Organizing Notes
Situation on Jan. 18, Gangjeong Village, South Korea
Around 5am Monday: 500 police were mobilized with three cranes. Police raided the planned site for the ceremony for starting to work on the naval base [which will be home base for Navy Aegis destroyers of U.S. and South Korea outfitted with "missile defense" systems and used to surround China's coast]. It is in the east side of the village and the village people had been barricading the site with the cars since when the cranes contracted by the navy first entered the site on Jan. 6. About 30 village people succeeded to block it at the time. It is known that the police harshly acted today, against the people who are mostly in their old ages. The village people laid their bodies on the ground and cried to rather kill all of them. They pushed the old women and men. The police did not even mind womens underwears were taken off during the body struggles. The whole story reminds the Pyeongteak when the police attacked the village early in the dawn of May 4, 2006.
Around 6~8pm: About 47 village people including a mayor were taken away to the police station. The police unconditionally took away all the people if they protested.
8~10:30am: Five activists including Secretary Go Yu Gi, and two Catholic fathers were taken away to the police, after the short press interview. The activists strongly protested against the police and were dragged from the cranes they were protesting on the top of them. All the captured were separately detained in the three police stations of the Jeju Island. Some may be released soon or some may be even restrained. We dont know yet but the mayor is expected to get the arrest warrant.
North Korea, in a New Year's message Friday, expressed hope for an end to animosity with the United States and a negotiated nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
The statement was published by the country's state-run media and comes after a U.S. envoy visited Pyongyang to urge resumption of the so-called six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
In the editorial, North Korea said it has always worked "to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations." Read more.
Despite heavy opposition from Jeju residents the proposed Korean naval base is scheduled to begin construction later this year. Jeju Governor Kim Tae-hwan survived a recall vote over his plan to allow the base in early October. The Jeju Elections Commission resolved the vote was invalid after a turnout of only 11 percent of the 33 percent required showed. In lieu of the negative attention surrounding the contradictory notion of missile defense warships docked at Jeju’s proclaimed “Island of Peace,” people from all over are coming out of the wood work to shout about how destructive the base would be not only to the ideal of a peaceful society, but to the precious environment that will inevitably suffer as well.
The southern part of the island, specifically Gangjeong, the proposed location of the base, bears international significance for multiple reasons. Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and recently, he visited Jeju to determine the severity of the proposed naval base. He says the most noteworthy reason for the base is structured around the fact that Jeju is the crossroad for the Malaka Straight where 80% of China’s oil is transported from the middle east.
“If the United States is able to militarily choke off the straight then the U.S. would be able to hold the keys to China’s economic engine. As the U.S. economy is collapsing the U.S. military strategy has been determined that the way we will control the world is to control the distribution of oil and natural gas…I believe that the base at Jeju is the key for this particular strategy and particularly for choking off the straight and controlling China,” said Gagnon. Read more.
A little more than two months ago, Brock McIntosh was fighting in Afghanistan, a member of the Army National Guard. This week, he's walking the halls of Congress, trying to end a war that began when he was 13 years old.
McIntosh, now 21, and four other vets are in Washington for something of a preemptive strike. A new pro-war group calling itself Vets For Freedom plans to begin lobbying Congress Thursday, pushing for an escalation. The anti-war vets hope to head them off.
But if their erstwhile comrades and now political opponents are "for freedom," that raises an unusual question. "What does that make us?" mocks Devon Read, 29, served for eight years and took part in the invasion of Iraq before leaving the Marine Corps in 2008. "Vets Against Freedom? Vets For Terrorism?" Read more.
While I was recently in South Korea I had the sad opportunity to have several of these F-15 "Eagles" screaming over my head when I was touring the end of the runway at the US Air Force Base at Kunsan with local activists. I reported in my blog at the time that in addition to the ear shattering noise, I felt my entire insides reverberate and I know that constant exposure to those sounds cannot be healthy for humans or any other living creature.
The South Koreans, and the Japanese in Okinawa who are now suing to close a similar US base there, have to live with this every single day of their lives. Same goes for the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places around the world where the US empire is operating.
Now they want to fly these damn things here in Maine at 500 feet. Read more.
The Washington Post this morning ran a story entitled North Korea Fires Five Missiles in which they intentionally mislead the public.
North Korea did indeed fire five short-range missiles, and they did indeed declare a navigation ban in waters off its eastern and western coasts, but the problem with the Post story is what they did not tell the reader. And this missing piece of information just so happens to explain why North Korea has taken the measures that they have taken.
What the post "conveniently" left out of their story is that the US and South Korean military have just begun major war games (Oct 13-16) that will include the USS George Washington aircraft carrier battle group. The exercises will be held in the western (or Yellow Sea) that sits between Korea and China.
North Korea does not know if the US and South Korea (which is now building long-range missiles that could strike deep into North Korean territory) will launch a shock and awe attack on them this time. After all they have seen Iraq and Afghanistan attacked and the hear the rattling of the US war sabers over Iran. So like so many people have told me this week, North Korea can't take a chance when these big military war exercises happen. They drop everything they are doing and stand ready to defend themselves. It's one reason their economy is such a mess.
And just for good measure they fired five short-range missiles harmlessly into the sea as a warning that they were on alert. Read more.
The Washington Post is running scared these days with its editorial writers having great difficulty coming to terms with the possibility of improved US relations with Russia and Iran. They also can't understand why the Obama administration might decide that additional US military forces in Afghanistan will not solve the political and military problems there. There have been several editorials and op-eds this week that distort developments in each of these situations and predict failure for President Barack Obama. The fact that a "reset" button is needed and may offer the promise of success in our relations with Russia, Iran and even Afghanistan appears to be anathema to the Post. Read more.
I hope you remember my previous posts about the six South Korean activists who were arrested last May under the oppressive "National Security Law". They were charged with the following crimes: Calling for the abolition of National Security Law, deanding withdrawal of the US troops, a peace treaty between the US and the North Korea, and reunification of North and South Korea.
Three of the six have been released but the three in the photo above still remain in prison and are facing 3-5 year prison sentences. These three are from the Seoul office of the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification (PKAR) and are in the top leadership of the organization while the three who were recently released worked in PKAR offices in other parts of the country and were not at the top levels of leadership. Clearly the present right-wing South Korean government is acknowledging that they don't really have a strong case against the three they have released although they have been each put on several years of probation.
I was recently asked by the lawyers for the three that remain in prison to send a letter commenting on their demands that US bases be closed and US troops be sent home. They wanted to show that this is a position that is held even in the US and I have gladly sent the letter.
According to Korean Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi, "The National Security Law was made by the right-wing in South Korea after the establishment of its own separate South Korean government , to purge their opposition. The precedence of the law was the ‘Law for Maintenance of the Public Security’ under the Japanese colonialism (1910~1945) that oppressed the independence movement activists who were against the Japanese imperialism. The ‘Law for Maintenance of the Public Security’ under Japanese imperialism was called ‘the most vicious law in the world’ and was abolished by the order of the headquarter of the united alliance countries after the defeat of the Japanese imperialism on October 15, 1945. More than 13,178 have been indicted under the National Security Law and went to trial from 1961-2002. The law has been used for the purpose to oppress the progressive movement who criticized the dictatorship governments." Read more.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.
An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.
Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?
But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.
It has now been over a week since the video tape and transcript from the remarkable 8/8/09 deposition of former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds was publicly released. Previously, the Bush Administration invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege" in order to gag Edmonds, in attempting to keep such information from becoming public.
The under-oath, detailed allegations include bribery, blackmail, espionage and infiltration of the U.S. government of, and by current and former members of the U.S. Congress, high-ranking State and Defense Department officials and agents of the government of Turkey. The broad criminal conspiracy is said to have resulted in, among other things, the sale of nuclear weapons technology to black market interests including Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Libya and others.
Even as many of these allegations had been previously corroborated to varying extents, by a number of official government reports, documents and independent media outlets (largely overseas), not a single major mainstream media outlet in the U.S. has picked up on Edmonds' startling claims since her deposition has been made fully available.
Granted, last week was a busy news week, with the death of Ted Kennedy, the release of the CIA Inspector General's report on torture, and the announcement that Michael Jackson's death was ruled a homicide. And, it's true, a 4-hour deposition and/or 241-page transcript [PDF] is a lot of material to review, particularly given the wide scope of the charges being made here. Read more.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
North Korea Pardons Two Jailed Journalists After Bill Clinton's Visit
Euna Lee and Laura Ling Could Board a Plane Back for U.S. as Early as Tonight, Sources Say
By Martha Raddatz and Joohee Cho | ABCNews
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il today ordered the release of jailed U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee through "a special pardon," the country's state-run news agency reported.
North Korea's Central News Agency said former President Bill Clinton, who took a surprise trip to the country to negotiate Ling and Lee's release apologized for the two female journalists "illegally crossing the border and committing a grave crime against our nation."
Ling and Lee's families said in a joint statement they are "overjoyed by the news of their pardon."
"We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens," the statement said. "We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home."
Clinton met with Ling and Lee earlier in what was a very emotional meeting, a government source told ABC News. Read more.
North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese newspaper said Thursday, amid escalating tensions between the communist country and the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The missile, believed to be a long-range Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan's top-selling newspaper. The report cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
The Yomiuri said the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, but that it would not be able to hit the main islands of Hawaii, which lie about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.
The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said. It noted that North Korea had fired its first Taepodong-2 missile on July 4, 2006. Also, July 8 is the anniversary of the 1994 death of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. Read more.
U.S. says will not accept N.Korea as nuclear state
By Neil Chatterjee | Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday the United States would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and he warned Pyongyang against transferring nuclear material overseas.
A South Korean newspaper reported that Pyongyang was preparing to move an intercontinental ballistic missile from a factory near the capital to a launch site on the east coast.
In a speech to the Asia Security Conference in Singapore, Gates said the threat from North Korea, which this week detonated a nuclear device and launched a series of missiles, could start an arms race in Asia.
"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us," he said. "We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state."
North Korea -- one of the world's last remaining Communist states -- has said it was no longer bound by the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. It threatened further actions in response to any U.N. censure. Read more.
This trip report covers the period of April 13-20 as I traveled to Seoul, South Korea to attend the Global Network’s (GN) 17th annual space organizing conference. Traveling with me was Mary Beth Sullivan and Tom Sturtevant, a leader from Maine Veterans for Peace.
A Korean Organizing Committee, comprised of 10 groups, organized the GN conference and they collectively did a wonderful job of hosting the large international delegation that came from about 25 countries. In addition to our GN international delegation the conference was also supported and attended by many international activists from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC).
Our first day was a field trip by bus to visit the DMZ along the border between North and South Korea.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday in what U.S. and South Korean officials deemed a provocative act.
While the United States and South Korea confirmed the rocket launch, the payload of the rocket remains unclear. North Korea has said the rocket was to carry a satellite into space, but the United States, South Korea and other nations fear it could be a missile with a warhead attached.
"With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement after the launch.
"On the basis of an agreement between the ROK and the US, the land was offered to the US military as a training area. It has become an international training ground, used not only by the USFK, but also troops based on Guam, Okinawa, and even the US mainland. This means that this training area was prepared for the purpose of permitting the US to carry out its new military strategy, based on "strategic flexibility", which allows the USFK to conduct offensive operations outside the boundaries of the ROK."
Summary of the Problem of the Mugeonri ROK-US Joint-Use Training Area
Written by Pan-Korean Committee against the Expansion of the Mugun-ri Military Training Fields | Translation by Agatha Haun
Timeline of The Progressive Expansion of the Mugeonri Training Area
1980: In the vicinity of Mugeonri, a village in the Paju township, Kyeonggi Province, 3,500,000 pyeong of land (more than 10.5 million square meters) are cleared, followed by continuous expansion of the area after that.
1986: Up to this year the training area was expanded to 5,500,000 pyeong (more than 16.5 million square meters). All the residents who lived in Mugeonri at that time were evicted, and some of them moved to Ohyeonri. Now it is expected that the training ground will expand into that area.
1996: There are plans for enlarging the training area again, to 10,500,000 pyeong (more than 31.5 million square meters).
2008: September: A rushed announcement is made, afterward evaluation and assessment in Ohyeonri is moved forward.
2009: At present, the great majority of the residents do not accede to the National Defense Ministry's plan to buy them out, and appeasement and threats are used to win them over.
In September last year, residents protested against the National Defense Ministry's high-handed evaluation and assessment methods. Because of that, in connection with the illegal arrest of some residents, and the investigations that were set in motion, residents were summoned and compelled to make written apologies. This ran parallel with disgraceful coercion and pressure on residents.
Our annual Keep Space for Peace Week was a resounding success this year. We had more than 90 events in 13 countries – the highest total in recent years. We are grateful to all who organized video showings, protest events, and street leafleting to help educate the public.
Here in Maine we held two vigils at Bath Iron Works where the Navy’s Aegis destroyer is built. The Aegis is outfitted with “missile defense” systems and is now being deployed just off the coast of China as part of a doubling of U.S. military presence in the Asian-Pacific region.
China imports the majority of its oil through the Taiwan Straits and the U.S. strategy is to put in place the ability to choke off this importation thus giving the U.S. the ability to control the keys to China’s and the world’s economic engine. This is creating a dangerous arms race in the region.