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Henoko Takes on U.S. Imperialism

By Maya Evans

Okinawa-- Around one hundred and fifty Japanese protesters gathered to stop construction trucks from entering the U.S. base 'Camp Schwab', after the Ministry of Land over-ruled the local Governors' decision to revoke permission for construction plans, criticizing the "mainland-centric" Japanese Government of compromising the environmental, health and safety interests of the Islanders.

Riot police poured out of buses at six a.m., out-numbering protesters four to one, with road sitters systematically picked off in less than an hour to make way for construction vehicles.

Henoko

All the mayors and government representatives of Okinawa have objected to the construction of the new coastal base, which will landfill one hundred and sixty acres of Oura Bay, for a two hundred and five hectare construction plan which will be part of a military runway.

Marine biologists describe Oura Bay as a critical habitat for the endangered 'dugong' (a species of manatee), which feeds in the area, as well as sea turtles and unique large coral communities.

The bay is particularly special for its extreme rich ecosystem which has developed due to six inland rivers converging into the bay, making the sea levels deep, and ideal from various types of porites coral and dependent creatures.

'Camp Schwab' is just one of 32 U.S. bases which occupy 17% of the Island, using various areas for military exercises from jungle training to Osprey helicopter training exercises. There are on average 50 Osprey take off and landings every day, many next to housing and built up residential areas, causing disruption to everyday life with extreme noise levels, heat and diesel smell from the engines.

Two days ago there were six arrests outside the base, as well as 'Kayactivists' in the sea trying to disrupt the construction. A formidable line of tethered red buoys mark out the area consigned for construction, running from the land to a group of offshore rocks, Nagashima and Hirashima, described by local shamans as the place where dragons (the source of wisdom) originated.

Protesters also have a number of speed boats which take to the waters around the cordoned area; the response of the coast guard is to use the tactic of trying to board these boats after ramming them off course.

The overwhelming feeling of the local people is that the Government on the mainland is willing to sacrifice the wishes of Okinawans in order to pursue its military defense measures against China. Bound by Article 9, Japan has not had an army since world war two, though moves by the Government suggest a desire to scrap the Article and embark on a 'special relationship' with the U.S., who is already securing control of the area with over 200 bases, and thus tightening the Asia pivot with control over land and sea trade routes, particularly those routes used by China.

Meanwhile, Japan is footing 75% of the bill for accommodating the U.S., with each soldier costing the Japanese Government 200 million yen per year, that’s $4.4 billion a year for the 53,082 U.S. soldiers currently in Japan, with around half (26,460) based in Okinawa. The new base at Henoko is also expected to cost the Japanese Government a tidy sum with the current price tag calculated to be at least 5 trillion yen.

Okinawa suffered devastating losses during the Second World War, with a quarter of the population killed within the 3-month-long 'Battle of Okinawa' which claimed 200,000 lives in total. Hilltops are said to have changed shape due to the sheer bombardment of ammunition.

Local activist Hiroshi Ashitomi has been protesting at Camp Schwab since the expansion was announced 11 years ago, he said: "We want an island of peace and the ability to make our own decisions, if this doesn’t happen then maybe we might need to start talking about independence."

Maya Evans coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK. (vcnv.org.uk).

Talk Nation Radio: Celine Nahory on Keeping Peace in Japan's Constitution and the World

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-celine-nahory-on-keeping-peace-in-japans-constitution-and-the-world 

Céline Nahory is International Coordinator for Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign. She also serves as Regional/International Representative in the International Peace Bureau's Council. She has worked for fifteen years with NGOs in the US, Japan and India, carrying out research and running advocacy campaigns on issues of peace, security, disarmament, economic justice and sustainable development.
See:
http://peaceboat.org/english
https://facebook.com/peaceboat
http://article-9.org/en/index.html
https://facebook.com/article9

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Living Under the Metal Osprey

By Buddy Bell

Okinawa--In late October 2015, I was with 3 Okinawa peace activists and a British solidarity activist on a tour of local resistance to U.S. military bases. After an hour of driving north from the city of Nago, crossing deep ravines and shimmering blue bays, we approached a dense forest, where the U.S. military’s only jungle warfare training center is situated, way up in the northernmost section of the island of Okinawa.

As we continued driving, the highway was suddenly blocked by some large, camouflage military vehicles, and we got out to investigate. One of the vehicles was an armored personnel carrier with what looked to be about 25 soldiers inside, some of them looking out at us quizzically. I waved and a few of them waved back. We watched two soldiers get out and direct traffic around their convoy, while they waited to enter the training center’s main gate. For a few minutes we chanted and banged our drums at the gate. Once the first vehicle cleared whatever impasse they had at the gate, all the vehicles soon vacated the highway and disappeared into the training center.

Such a sight seems to be commonplace in this region, yet a more grave concern lies in the fact that military aircraft fly low over people’s homes and fields. One family, which keeps a decibel meter in their home, says that the noise level sometimes reaches 100 decibels and that sometimes the pilots’ faces are visible. The blasts of heat from the flying machines and the smell of fuel further irritate the senses.  

The U.S. Air Force plans to build six new helipads in the jungle as part of a deal to give about one half of the training center acreage back to Japan. Yet, right in the middle of these proposed helipad sites lies Takae, a village of little more than 150 residents. They are the people who will suffer the increased air traffic that is sure to result if the helipads are built. They will have to abide the possibility of a crash--- there have been at least 46 aircraft accidents since 1972, and in 1959 a plane carrying 2 missiles crashed into a school, killing 17 people and injuring 200.

Now that the air force has a new toy, the MV-22 Osprey helicopter, there have been a lot of trainee pilots going out on practice runs. Unfortunately, the Osprey has established an abysmal safety record compared to earlier models, and what makes the prospect of a crash even more unsettling for the villagers is the fact that its propellers are specifically designed to shatter on impact and disperse laterally, away from the pilot. This “safety” feature would not be safe for potential bystanders.

Takae residents also believe that the U.S. military would like to use their village as part of training exercises, an idea that doesn’t seem so farfetched after considering what happened during the Vietnam War. At that time, the U.S. military built a “dummy” village in the jungle and forcefully conscripted Takae residents, one as young as six years old, to wear black clothing and carry on as though they were living in a Vietcong stronghold. The conscripted residents were even required to stage mock attacks from the village.

Now, Takae residents and solidarity activists from other parts of Okinawa maintain 2 protest camps that block either end of an access road to two of the helipad construction sites. Two more entrances to 2 already constructed helipads are permanently blocked with parked beater vehicles surrounded by a kind of welded scaffolding. At least a few activists watch the road to the unfinished helipads 24 hours a day, often in rotating shifts. So far, construction vehicles have been unable to enter the access road in order to finish building the helipads.

On the day I visited the protest camp, I met Professor Kosuzu, from Ryukyu University. She typically spends her weekends at the Takae encampment. A specialist in North American geography, particularly the Caribbean region, she says the Takae movement draws a lot of inspiration from the 1990s struggle that ended U.S. military training on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

“One of the Puerto Rican campaigners came to Okinawa to help us completely encircle Futenma Air Base back in 1995. I feel like the U.S. relationship with Okinawa is also a kind of colonialism.”

My goal in travelling to Okinawa is to tell other people in the U.S. about that reality, of bases maintained on forcefully expropriated land. With enough of a persistent uproar, coming from the Okinawa side and from the U.S. side, we will make it ever more difficult for the U.S. to maintain its overseas bases, rather than to simply close them.
 

Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence  (www.vcnv.org)

The U.S. Ought to Un-Swivel Its China Pivot

By Buddy Bell

For the last week, I’ve been walking on a peace march organized by the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Buddhist monks. This march is similar in some ways to another: the Okinawa “Beggars’ March” of 1955-1956. At that time, farmers who had been forcefully removed from their fields by U.S. soldiers in the years following World War II acted peacefully to demand the return of their land, which was the source of their entire livelihood.

Some of the farmers had their land stolen at gunpoint. In other cases, U.S. soldiers posing as surveyors duped them into signing English land-transfer documents that were passed off as invoices for the false land surveys.

Although the marchers bravely challenged local stigma against announcing oneself as a beggar, and although it was true that except for the fact that their land was stolen, these people would not need to beg, the U.S. military commander deemed them Communists and dismissed their concerns outright. The military refused to consider the issue of its hostile occupation of otherwise productive land.

The 32 U.S. bases now operating in Okinawa share a foundation in that initial land grab. Together, they comprise 17% of Okinawa prefecture. Nowadays, the Japanese government’s habit has been to forcefully borrow people’s land at a set rental price; then they let the U.S. military use that land for free.

All of this land area could otherwise be used for the prosperity of local communities in Okinawa. To quote one example, after the return of some land to the Shintoshin district of Naha, Okinawa’s capital city, the district’s productivity went up by a factor of 32. This is according to the September 19 issue of a local newspaper, Ryukyu Shimpo.

Similarly, the U.S. people would almost certainly enjoy increased productivity and prosperity if the U.S. government were to downsize its grossly bloated military outlays. With more than 800 bases around the globe and almost a quarter of them situated in either Japan or Korea, the U.S. spends $10 billion per year trying to maintain a foreign policy of absolute domination rather than amicable relations.

Now that the U.S. has Beijing surrounded by 200 bases lining the East China Sea, it has already caused the beginning of an arms race. For the first time in many years, China is increasing its military budget at the same time the U.S. continues to spend more than China and the next 11 highest-spending countries. Not only is the U.S. depriving its own people of money that could be used to fund scientific research, healthcare, education, or to return to the people’s pockets; it is backing China into a corner where it feels it must do the same. Furthermore, the bases are situated in such a way that the U.S. would have the ability to block sea lanes, which is a hidden message to China that their highly export-driven economy could face the prospect of a serious pinch at a moment’s notice.

The proliferation of more and stronger weaponry and the establishment of economic pressure points is putting the two countries on a war path. It becomes ever more likely that a careless action by either side will end up with people killing and dying.

The role of U.S. residents in this situation is not to spend a lot of time criticizing China, a country over which they exercise little control, but to focus instead on altering the course of the United States, which at the end of the day must answer to an organized populous. Chinese government policy will continue to be the main concern of the people who live in China, and the vast majority of them want fairness and security.

Seventy years after occupying Japan in 1945, it is time for the United States to vacate its overseas bases and engage in purely peaceful diplomatic, labor, and trade relations with other countries for the mutual benefit of all people.

Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare (www.vcnv.org)

Rape of the Japanese Constitution

By David Rothauser

Sixty –eight years ago they gave peace and nobody listened.

In 1947 a peace constitution was born, but nobody noticed. Sixty-eight years later, on September 19, 2015, that constitution was systematically raped and nobody outside Japan cares.

Such is the result of the dysfunctional world we have come to live in since the beginning of the nuclear age.

Peace Boat & Global Article 9 Campaign Statement on the Occasion of the International Day of Peace

As the world celebrates the International Day of Peace and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign strongly condemn the forceful passage in the Diet of security legislation that breaches Japan’s peace constitution and allows its Self-Defense Forces to use force overseas.

Article 9 is the famous peace clause by which the Japanese people aspires to an international peace based on justice and order, renounces war and prohibits the use of force as means of settling international disputes. Adopted following WWII, Article 9 is a pledge to Japan itself and to the world, particularly to neighboring countries that suffered under Japanese invasions and colonial rule, to never repeat its mistakes. Since then, Article 9 has been widely recognized as a regional and international peace mechanism that has contributed to maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia and served as a legal framework to promote peace, disarmament and sustainability.

The adoption of new security legislation is the latest of a long series of initiatives that challenge Japan’s longstanding peace policies. Such measures include re-interpreting Article 9, increasing the country’s military budget and relaxing the long-held arms export ban. Indeed, the bills codifies the Cabinet’s contentious decision to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and expand Japan’s security role around the world, under Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s pet-doctrine of “pro-active pacifism”. It also puts the newly revised guidelines on Japan-U.S. defense cooperation into effect, granting the U.S. increased Japanese support in its military strategy not only in Asia but also in other parts of the world.

In Japan, the bills face broad opposition in the Diet and amongst the public, as shown by successive opinion polls and massive public protests, many of which organized by students and youth throughout Japan. Most of Japan’s constitutional scholars (including former Prime Ministers, high-rank Cabinet officials and Supreme Court judges) deem the bills unconstitutional and the way they have been pushed through a worrisome deviation from the rule of law.  At the regional level, the legislation has been met with anxiety from Japan’s neighbors that consider the move a threat to regional peace and security in Asia.

On this International Day of Peace, Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign

- Condemn in strongest terms the adoption of the security bills that fundamentally violate the principles and letter of war-renouncing Article 9;

- Decry the way by which the legislation was passed, in disregard for Japan’s legal procedure and democratic process;

- Express utmost concerns at the possible repercussions the legislation will have on the region, and ask Japan and other countries in the region to refrain from any actions that would accelerate arms race and destabilize peace and stability in Northeast Asia;

- Support Japan’s civil society efforts to prevent the legislation from being implemented and Article 9 to be further eroded;

- And call on people around the world to support Japan’s vibrant mobilization towards the revocation of the bills, the preservation of Japan’s democracy and pacific values, and the safeguard of Article 9 as a regional and global peace mechanism.

Download the full statement at goo.gl/zFqZgO

** Please sign our petition "Save Japan Peace Constitution"
http://is.gd/save_article_9

Celine Nahory
International Coordinator
Peace Boat
www.peaceboat.org
Global Article 9 Campaign
www.article-9.org

Talk Nation Radio: David Rothauser on Japan's Struggle to Keep its Peace Constitution

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-david-rothauser-on-japans-struggle-to-keep-its-peace-constitution

David Rothauser is a playwrite, filmmaker, teacher, and peace activist. We discuss his new film, Article 9 Comes to America.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

U.S. Drops Fleas With Bubonic Plague on North Korea

This happened some 63 years ago, but as the U.S. government has never stopped lying about it, and it's generally known only outside the United States, I'm going to treat it as news.

Here in our little U.S. bubble we've heard of a couple versions of a film called The Manchurian Candidate. We've heard of the general concept of "brainwashing" and may even associate it with something evil that the Chinese supposedly did to U.S. prisoners during the Korean War. And I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people who've heard of these things have at least a vague sense that they're bullshit.

If you didn't know, I'll break it to you right now: people cannot actually be programed like the Manchurian candidate, which was a work of fiction. There was never the slightest evidence that China or North Korea had done any such thing. And the CIA spent decades trying to do such a thing, and finally gave up.

I'd also be willing to bet that very few people know what it was that the U.S. government promoted the myth of "brainwashing" to cover up. During the Korean War, the United States bombed virtually all of North Korea and a good bit of the South, killing millions of people. It dropped massive quantities of Napalm. It bombed dams, bridges, villages, houses. This was all-out mass-slaughter. But there was something the U.S. government didn't want known, something deemed unethical in this genocidal madness.

It is well documented that the United States dropped on China and North Korea insects and feathers carrying anthrax, cholera, encephalitis, and bubonic plague. This was supposed to be a secret at the time, and the Chinese response of mass vaccinations and insect eradication probably contributed to the project's general failure (hundreds were killed, but not millions). But members of the U.S. military taken prisoner by the Chinese confessed to what they had been a part of, and confessed publicly when they got back to the United States.

Some of them had felt guilty to begin with. Some had been shocked at China's decent treatment of prisoners after U.S. depictions of the Chinese as savages. For whatever reasons, they confessed, and their confessions were highly credible, were borne out by independent scientific reviews, and have stood the test of time.

How to counter reports of the confessions? The answer for the CIA and the U.S. military and their allies in the corporate media was "brainwashing," which conveniently explained away whatever former prisoners said as false narratives implanted in their brains by brainwashers.

And 300 million of so Americans more or less sort of believe that craziest-ever dog-ate-my-homework concoction to this day!

The propaganda struggle was intense. The support of the Guatemalan government for the reports of U.S. germ warfare in China were part of the U.S. motivation for overthrowing the Guatemalan government; and the same cover-up was likely part of the motivation for the CIA's murder of Frank Olson.

There isn't any debate that the United States had been working on bio-weapons for years, at Fort Detrick -- then Camp Detrick -- and numerous other locations. Nor is there any question that the United States employed the top bio-weapons killers from among both the Japanese and the Nazis from the end of World War II onward. Nor is there any question that the U.S. tested such weapons on the city of San Francisco and numerous other locations around the United States, and on U.S. soldiers. There's a museum in Havana featuring evidence of years of U.S. bio-warfare against Cuba. We know that Plum Island, off the tip of Long Island, was used to test the weaponization of insects, including the ticks that created the ongoing outbreak of Lyme Disease.

Dave Chaddock's book This Must Be the Place, which I found via Jeff Kaye's review, collects the evidence that the United States indeed tried to wipe out millions of Chinese and North Koreans with deadly diseases.

"What does it matter now?" I can imagine people from only one corner of the earth asking.

I reply that it matters that we know the evils of war and try to stop the new ones. U.S. cluster bombs in Yemen, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. guns in Syria, U.S. white phosphorus and Napalm and depleted uranium used in recent years, U.S. torture in prison camps, U.S. nuclear arsenals being expanded, U.S. coups empowering monsters in Ukraine and Honduras, U.S. lies about Iranian nukes, and indeed U.S. antagonization of North Korea as part of that never-yet-ended war -- all of these things can be best confronted by people aware of a centuries-long pattern of lying.

And I reply, also, that it is not yet too late to apologize.

Future of War and Peace at Stake in Streets of Japan

The United States and its European allies have launched wars on the Middle East that have created an enormous refugee crisis. The same nations are threatening Russia. The question of maintaining peace with Iran is on the tip of everyone's tongue. Even in Asia and the Pacific, not to mention Africa, the biggest military buildup is by the United States.

So why does Japan, of all places, have streets full of antiwar demonstrations for the first time since the U.S. war on Vietnam? I don't mean the usual protests in Okinawa of U.S. bases. I mean Japanese protests of the Japanese government. Why? Who did Japan bomb? And why do I say the future of war and peace in the world is at stake in Japan?

Let's back up a little. Japan went through a period of relative peace and prosperity between 1614 and 1853. The U.S. military forced Japan open to trade and trained Japan as a junior partner in imperialism, a story told well in James Bradley's The Imperial Cruise. The junior partner chose not to stay a junior partner, challenging U.S. dominance in World War II.

At the end of World War II, the war's losers in Japan and Germany were put on trial for an act that had been perfectly legal until 1928, the act of making war. In 1928, the global peace movement, led by the U.S. movement for the Outlawry of War, created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty that prohibits all war, a treaty to which most nations of the world are party today. This is a story I tell in my book When the World Outlawed War. President Franklin Roosevelt used the Kellogg-Briand Pact to create prosecutions of war.

Now, the general success thus far and in the future of the Kellogg-Briand Pact can be debated. It has prevented wars, it has stigmatized war, it has made war a crime that can be prosecuted in court (at least against losers), and World War III hasn't happened yet. But wars by wealthy nations against poor ones roll right along. The pact itself was of course never expected to abolish war on its own, a standard to which nobody ever holds any other law.

The Japanese success of the Kellogg-Briand Pact is a different matter. At the end of World War II, long-time Japanese diplomat and peace activist and new prime minister Kijuro Shidehara asked General Douglas MacArthur to outlaw war in a new Japanese constitution. The result was Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution, the wording of which is nearly identical to that of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Japan, which had gone centuries without war, would go another 70 years. The U.S. Outlawrists of the 1920s never imagined their work being imposed on a conquered nation by a ruling general. But they might have imagined it being taken up by the Japanese people. If Article Nine was not clearly owned by the Japanese people themselves in 1947, it was in 1950. In that year, the United States asked Japan to throw out Article Nine and join a new war against North Korea. Japan refused.

When the American War (in Vietnam) came along, the United States made the same request of Japan to abandon Article Nine, and Japan again refused. Japan did, however, allow the U.S. to use bases in Japan, despite huge protest by the Japanese people.

Japan refused to join in the First Gulf War, but provided token support, refueling ships, for the war on Afghanistan (which the Japanese prime minister openly said was a matter of conditioning the people of Japan for future war-making). Japan repaired U.S. ships and planes in Japan during the 2003 war on Iraq, although why a ship or plane that could make it from Iraq to Japan and back needed repairs was never explained.

Now, at U.S. urging, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attempting to formally throw out Article Nine, or to "reinterpret" it to mean its opposite. And the Japanese people, to their everlasting credit, are in the streets defending their constitution and their culture of peace.

Meanwhile, the people of the United States, with some 50% of their popular movie entertainment (by my unscientific estimate) based around a good-and-evil drama of World War II, are not only not in the streets. They're not even in touch with the world. They have no idea this is going on. And if, 50 years from now, a heavily militarized Japan attacks Hawaii, the people of the United States will continue to have no idea how that happened.

There are peace activists around the world struggling to uphold the idea that a modern nation can live without war. Japan is a leading example, with certain obvious shortcomings, of how that can be done. We cannot afford to lose Japan as a model of peace. We cannot afford to hear from war mongers five years from now that war is proven inevitable by the return of the Japanese to war. We cannot afford to hear the United Nations, ten years from now, credit Japan with the humanitarian service of protecting people by bombing them. We cannot afford, twenty years from now, to hear that the Pentagon must be built up to guard against the evil Japanese.

Now, in fact, not later, but right now, would be a good moment in which to wake up and value what Japan has achieved. Now would be an ideal moment in which to remember that Japan's Article Nine was already and remains the law of the land in our other nations through the text of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Let's start obeying the law.

* Much credit to David Rothauser for his film Article 9 Comes to America, and for being my guest next week on Talk Nation Radio.

* Photo from http://damoncoulter.photoshelter.com

Tiny Guam, huge US Marine base expansions

By Sylvia Frain

On Saturday morning August 29, 2015, the United States Navy signed the Record of Decision (ROD), the final document needed for the implementation of one of the largest “peacetime” military build-ups in American history. This will cost between $8 and 9 billion, with only $174 million for civilian infrastructure, which Congress has not released yet. As a central aspect of American’s foreign policy ‘Pivot to the Pacific’, the build-up will relocate thousands of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

This does not auger well for the people of Guam. For decades, the Okinawans have protested the violence, pollution, military accidents, and sexual assaults committed by American Marines on the local population. Moving those Marines to tiny Guam frightens many.

Military-colonial destruction is not new to the people of Guam. The indigenous Chamorro people were nearly exterminated by invasion and colonization by Spain, then the US, then Japan during WWII, and then back into US possession. Located in the Western Pacific Ocean more than 8,000 miles from Washington D.C., Guam remains an unincorporated territory and possession of the United States. While residents are American citizens, carry U.S. passports and pay federal taxes, they have no representation in the Senate, have a non-voting delegate in Congress and cannot vote in Presidential elections.

Currently, one-third of the island of Guam (210 square miles) is US Department of Defense (DOD) property and inaccessible to non-military residents. Many people are still waiting for war reparations from World War II and compensation for their land taken by the military. In addition, people from the Guam serve and die in the United States Armed Forces at higher rates than any other state in America.

The build-up will add further strain on already fragile infrastructure and limited resources:

  • A thousand acres of limestone forest will be destroyed for housing the Marines and their dependents and the military will control the largest water source for the island.
  • Guam will become the biggest storage facility for fuel and ammunitions in the Pacific.
  • A Live Fire Range Complex (LFRC) will be constructed at Northwest Field on Anderson Air Force Base and will close Ritidian National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary to numerous endangered species and a sacred site to the indigenous people. The public will no longer have access to the National Wildlife Refuge, including the pristine beach, ancient caves, education center and a newly ‘rediscovered’ 4,000-year-old fishing village containing the oldest archaeological artefacts found on Guam. In the early 1990’s, local families demanded that Ritidian Point, or Litekyan, be returned to its traditional owners. However, the federal government instead created the National Wildlife Refugee, owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Services.

While the Governor of Guam, the non-voting Congresswoman, the Guam Chamber of Commerce and other military-business lobbyists welcome the military build-up, many people on Guam consider the ROD’s release a sad day for the people, land, wildlife and culture of Guam. With an economy 60 percent derived from tourism, a massive expansion of the military on a vulnerable small island will only degrade both the environment and the native Chamorro people.

Sylvia C. Frain is a Ph.D. candidate with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago on the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand and a Research Associate with the Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC) at the University of Guam.

Worst president ever?: History Should and Probably Will Judge President Obama Harshly

By Dave Lindorff


President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history. 


Navy Trying to Kill Gangjeong Village

By Bruce K. Gagnon, www.space4peace.org

I was invited to come to Jeju City today to appear on live radio show for 20 minutes at 6:00 pm.  As we were preparing to leave Gangjeong village we looked into the sky as a formation of Navy Blue Angel war plans came screaming over the village.  For the next 15 or so minutes they went back and forth directly over Gangjeong doing various stunts.  One of the stunts brought the planes very low in an ear splitting maneuver.

The Navy was sending a message to Gangjeong village.  The message was loud and clear. "We own you now.  Your village will become a war base.  There is nothing you can do.  We will project power against China from Jeju Island.  You'd better get used to the idea."  This is the way the US military empire thinks and the way they treat people who stand in their way.

Just before we went on the air for the radio interview we learned that the Navy was demanding that Gangjeong villagers pay $20 million (USD) in fines for disruption of construction operations on the base now nearing completion.  Some activists believe that the Ministry of Defense in Seoul is actually controlled by the Samsung corporation which is the lead contractor for the Navy base construction operation.  Just as in the US, where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics control our government, the Park administration inside the Blue House in Seoul is actually the pawn of corporate interests.

By demanding this outrageous amount of funds from a small fishing and farming community the South Korean puppet government is saying that democracy does not actually exist anymore.  In a true democratic nation people who protest oppressive government policies are not fined and driven into poverty - especially an entire village.  What was the crime of Gangjeong?  They wanted to protect the environment, sacred Gureombi rock, the offshore endangered soft coral forests, the water, the sea life and more.  The villagers wanted to protect their way of life - their 500-year old culture. 

I've learned that only South Korea and Japan have this kind of punishing policy that obviously smacks of fascism.  The government of South Korea is controlled by corporations and Washington.  How can they claim in Seoul to be a democracy and then turn around and treat citizens this way?  How can the government claim they need a Navy base to defend the people and then attack the people who use non-violent protest to challenge the destruction of their village?

This will have to go to court but the courts are ultimately under the control the the same corrupt corporate state.  When the Navy demands that the village must pay $20 million in fines that means every man, woman and child owes that debt.  It means they would be naked without any land after the court would take all they owned.  This is nothing more than an illegal and immoral attempt to finish off Gangjeong village.  Every living and breathing human being on this planet should be outraged at this crime against the human rights of the people in Gangjeong village.

After the US directed April 3 massacre on Jeju Island soon after WW II was over a new program was put into place called the 'Involvement System'.  This meant that anyone who was labeled a communist by the US run puppet government could get no job and would have no future.  It also meant that any family member would suffer the same fate.  This demand for $20 million by the Navy is an attempt to reinstate this 'Involvement System' once again.  The only way out for a person is to commit suicide.

I am told that the South Korean regime is using this same punitive program to go after striking auto workers on the mainland and other activists around the nation.  The decision has been made to kill democracy in South Korea.  We are seeing the same method of operation in Japan today as the right-wing government kills their peaceful constitution against popular will.  We see the same system in Okinawa as the people demand US bases there be closed.  We see the same system underway inside Ukraine where Washington has installed a puppet government.

For those out there sitting on the fence this is the time to wake up and see the writing on the wall.  Democracy is being drowned globally by corporate capitalism. 
 
Who will be next?
 

Never again—Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s 70th Anniversary Commemoration

By Blase Bonpane

A holocaust began on this day in 1945 and has continued to the present. Some 30 million people have been sacrificed. It was then Korea, Indo-China, Central and South America, Panama and Grenada. And for the past 24 years the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and much of Africa.

And now all of the military hubris, waste, murder, torture and rape must be put aside and channeled into saving our common home . . . this tiny grain of sand called planet Earth.

Never has there been a greater danger of nuclear holocaust than today. The United States and Israel are certainly the most apt to use these biocidal weapons. There is not now nor has there ever been any value in what was called deterrence. There is only crisis.

The United States does not obey the nuclear non-proliferation treaty Israel is not even a member and both point the finger at a nation which is open to inspection and is a member and yet has no nuclear weapons . . . Iran.

Women Who Crossed Korean DMZ Call for Restraint and Dialogue

The exchange of fire across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is rapidly spiraling out of control and could escalate into a full-scale war. Women peacemakers who crossed the DMZ in May urgently call leaders of South Korea, North Korea and the United States to exercise restraint and return to the long-abandoned table for dialogue.

The tit-for-tat began on August 4th when a landmine exploded on the southern border of the DMZ and shattered the legs of two South Korean soldiers. In response, South Korean President Park Geun-hye erected massive speakers to blast anti North Korean propaganda across the DMZ. North Korea retaliated by launching a rocket at a loudspeaker, and South Korea fired back 36 artillery shells. Pyongyang has ordered North Korean troops along the front line and has set a 5 pm Korea Standard Time deadline for South Korea to turn off its speakers. Meanwhile, the U.S.-R.O.K. temporarily halted military exercises in what some fear is to prepare for retaliation.

World Beyond War Supports Japan Protesters: "Preserve Peace Constitution"

World Beyond War Supports Japan Protesters
Calls for Preservation of Peace Constitution

Thursday, August 20, 2015

World Beyond War endorses the efforts of peace groups throughout Japan to protect Japan’s “peace constitution,” and to oppose pending legislation currently being promoted by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would re-militarize Japan. Peace groups will mobilize throughout Japan (at last count, 32 locations) on Sunday, August 23, and other days in the coming week.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution states:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

World Beyond War Director David Swanson said on Thursday: “World Beyond War advocates for abolishing war, including through constitutional and legal means. We point to the post-WWII Japanese constitution, in particular its Article 9, as a model of legislation to outlaw war.”

“It is a little known fact,” Swanson added, “that nearly identical language to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is in a treaty to which most nations of the world are party but which some of them routinely violate: the Kellogg-Briand Pact of August 27, 1928. Rather than following the path of militarism, Japan should be leading the rest of us toward compliance with the law.”

Added World Beyond War Executive Committee Member Joe Scarry, “World Beyond War colleagues in Japan tell us that the protests which are taking place across Japan oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security bills. The Japanese people believe the bills are unconstitutional, and are afraid that if these bills pass, the Japanese government and Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) will join American wars, which have killed many innocent people.”

Scarry also said, “The bills pending in Japan are particularly undesirable because of the threat they pose to the peace work of Japanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Japanese NGOs have worked for decades to assist and provide humanitarian aid in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. Japanese NGOs have been able to conduct their work in relative safety, in part because local people have known that Japan js a pacifist country and Japanese workers don’t carry guns. Japanese NGOs formed trust and cooperation in the areas they served, and that trust and cooperation encouraged locals and NGOs to work together. There is great concern that once Prime Minister Abe’s security bills pass, this trust will be jeopardized.”

For details of protests in Japan against re-militarization, see http://togetter.com/li/857949

World Beyond War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.

70 Years of Korean War

After marking the destruction of Nagasaki and the police-murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson on August 9th, Americans have options for what to commemorate on August 10th. I'm inclined to think that August 10th should be formally recognized as Gulf of Tonkin War Fraud Day. But I'm not sure, because another event is in even more need of remembrance.

It was the day after the death blow to Nagasaki, 70 years ago, that the victors of the most awesomest war ever chose to create a division of Korea along the 38th parallel -- a line that would be revered as a holy thing when North Korean troops later came across it, but dismissed as "imaginary" when U.S. troops crossed it heading north.

The Korean war was to World War II what the anthrax letters were to 9-11 -- without it sanity had a real chance; militarism was being scaled back drastically until the Korean war created the excuse for the permanent imperial war economy; but almost nobody even recalls what happened. Even Dean Acheson, who had imposed sanctions on Japan that led to Pearl Harbor and whose decision it was to fight a horrible war in Korea, is almost unknown. In part this is because the war coincided with McCarthyism, and few dared speak the truth about it at the time. In part it is because remembering it brings predominantly shame and disgust.

Before the war came the U.S. occupation of the South, the repression of leftists, the massacres of the people by the U.S. and South Koreans, including the slaughter of 30,000 to 60,000 on Jeju Island where South Korea is now building a huge new base for the U.S. Navy. Then came aggression from the South, including a year of raids across the sacred 38th parallel, and the South's announced intention to invade the North.

Talk Nation Radio: Amirah Lidasan: U.S. Out of the Philippines

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-amirah-lidasan-us-out-of-the-philippines

Amirah Lidasan is the leader of the Filipino activist group Suara Bangsamoro. She has been in the United States to testify at the International People's Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People. See http://internationalpeoplestribunal.org We discuss the impact of the U.S. military in the Philippines.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Viet Nam a Half Century Later

Jimmy Carter called a war waged in Vietnam by the United States -- a war that killed 60,000 Americans and 4,000,000 Vietnamese, without burning down a single U.S. town or forest -- "mutual" damage. Ronald Reagan called it a "noble" and "just cause." Barack Obama promotes the myth of the widespread mistreatment of returning U.S. veterans, denounces the Vietnamese as "brutal," and has launched a 13-year, $65 million propaganda program to glorify what the Vietnamese call the American War:

"As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away . . . They pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans."

Which ideals might those have been? Remember, this was the bad war in contrast to which World War II acquired the ridiculous label "good war." But the Pentagon is intent on undoing any accurate memory of Vietnam. Members of the wonderful organization, Veterans For Peace, meanwhile have launched their own educational campaign to counter the Pentagon's at VietnamFullDisclosure.org, and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee has done the same at LessonsOfVietnam.com. Already, the Pentagon has been persuaded to correct some of its inaccurate statements. Evidence of the extent of the killing in Vietnam continues to emerge, and it has suddenly become universally acceptable in academia and the corporate media to acknowledge that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks in 1968 that appeared likely to end the war until he intervened. As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war, which he didn't do. There would seem to be at work here something like a 50-year limit on caring about treason or mass-murder. Imagine what it might become acceptable to say about current wars 50 years hence!

Talk Nation Radio: Ukraine and the Checkmating of the West

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ukraine-and-the-checkmating-of-the-west

Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong are the authors of Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated. We speak with both of them about the book and the current crisis in Ukraine.

A review of Ukraine by David Swanson is here: http://davidswanson.org/node/4799

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Nuclear Japan Turns to War, Gets No Iran Treatment

Mr. ABE Shinzo, President, Liberal Democratic Party
Mr. YAMAGUCHI Natsuo, Chief Representative, Komeito

We Resolutely Protest against the Government Outrage of Ramming “War Legislation” through the Lower House Special Committee

Today, the Liberal Democrat Party and Komeito ruling coalition steamrolled the “War Legislation” (the security-related bills) through the Special Committee of the House of Representatives.  We strongly protest against this outrage.

More than half of the Japanese people are voicing their strong opposition to the bills, while overwhelming majority of them are calling for careful deliberations at the Diet.  The forced adoption of the bills, notwithstanding, is a blatant act of infringement of democracy. 

Giving priority to his pledge made before the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress to “Enact all necessary bills by this coming summer”, Prime Minister Abe has consistently ignored the voices of the people, showing his obsessed determination to pass the bills.  However, through the debates in the Diet during these weeks, it has been clearly demonstrated that the bills are unconstitutional, which would drag Japan into wars by allowing Japan to participate in the U.S. use of force, whether or not there is armed attack against Japan.  We must not let Japan take the path to war by all means.  

Unconstitutional bills must be retracted and scrapped immediately.  We strongly demand that the Abe Cabinet and the LDP-Komeito ruling coalition to cancel bringing the bills up in the Plenary Session of the House of Representatives and promptly withdraw and abandon them.

July 15, 2015
Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

Knives Are Out for Those Who Challenge Militarization of the Korean Peninsula

By Ann Wright

image

Photo of Women Cross DMZ walk in Pyongyang, North Korea at the Monument of Reunification  (Photo by Niana Liu)

When we began our project “Women Cross the DMZ,” we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some U.S. and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula.  No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

The latest slice and dice article , “How North Korea’s Marchers for Peace Became Fellow Travelers,”  by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein of the “Human Rights Foundation,” was published July 7, 2015 in Foreign Policy . Halvorssen and the “Human Rights Foundation” are reportedly associated with an Islamophobic and anti-LGBT agenda.

The authors’ goal seems to be to intimidate any group working for peace and reconciliation in Korea by using the issue of North Korean human rights violations to scare off groups from contact with North Korea. For these detractors, peace and reconciliation in various parts of the world might mean they will be out of issues and jobs as their livelihood quite possibly is made from undercutting attempts to resolve contentious and dangerous issues.

In the lengthy article, their fixation on virtually every word, written or spoken, made by members of the delegation, centered on two themes: the only possible result of visiting North Korea is to give legitimacy to the government, and if you don’t hammer the North Korean government on human rights issues on your first visit, you have lost all credibility. It seems apparent that the authors have never been involved in the delicate art of diplomacy. As a diplomat in the State Department for 16 years, I learned that if your goal is to foster dialogue you must first build some level of familiarity and trust before you can go on to difficult issues.

Of course, Halvorssen and Gladstein’s commentary is not unique. In every international challenge, whether it deals with Iran, Cuba or North Korea, a cottage industry of writers emerges to make their fame and fortune on a confrontational approach to the governments. Some of the "think tanks" and organizations they represent are bankrolled by a handful of ideological billionaires or corporations in the weapons industry that benefit from fueling the status quo, continued sanctions, and a military approach to problems that only have political solutions.

From the beginning our mission was clear: to bring international attention to the unresolved issues created 70 years ago by the division of Korea in 1945 by the United States and Russia. We call for all parties to implement the agreements agreed to 63 years ago in the July 27, 1953 Armistice. We firmly believe that the unresolved Korean conflict gives all governments in the region, including Japan, China and Russia, justification to further militarize and prepare for war, diverting funds for schools, hospitals, and the welfare of the people and the environment.  Of course, this justification also is used by U.S. policy makers in their latest strategy, the U.S. “pivot” to Asia and the Pacific.  We call for an end to that very profitable war footing, which is why the knives are out for us.

Without a doubt, North and South Koreans have much to resolve in the process of reconciliation and perhaps eventual reunification, including economic, political, nuclear issues, human rights and many, many others.

Our mission was not to tackle those inter-Korean issues ourselves but to bring international attention to the unresolved international conflict that is very dangerous for us all and to encourage dialogue to begin again, particularly among the United States, North Korea, and South Korea.

That’s why our group went to both North and South Korea. That’s why we called for reunification of families and women’s leadership in peace building. That’s why we walked in North Korea and South Korea—and crossed the DMZ—calling for an end of the state of war on the Korean peninsula with a peace treaty to finally end the 63-year old Korean War.

And that’s why we will remain engaged no matter what the pundits write, because in the end, if groups like ours don’t push for peace, our governments are prone to go to war.

##

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also served as a U.S. diplomat in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the US government in March 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.  In her letter of resignation, she mentioned her concerns about the Bush administration’s refusal to engage/dialogue with North Korea to resolve issues of concern.

Japanese academics say no to military research. Please sign their letter!

By Kathy Barker, ScientistsAsCitizens.org

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There are academics over the world who don’t believe that militarism and war serve humanity, and do not want their institutions or their own work to be guided by military needs or funding.

War is absolutely not inevitable. As with climate change activism, with calls for divestment of university funds from fossil fuel companies, and increased collaborations between scientists and other citizens, scientists can speak out and act on their abhorrence of being part of killing others. We can change the culture of militarism by not participating in it.

This campaign is an effort by Japanese academics, who have noted increased military involvement in universities, to bring awareness of this issue to other academics and scientists. The website, given here in English, gives their rationale. If you agree, please sign.

Dangerous Military Buildup in Asia and Pacific

South Korea constructs new Naval Base on Jeju Island, U.S. Plans to Expand Military Base on Okinawa and China Builds on South China Sea Atolls

By Ann Wright

The international community is extraordinarily concerned about the Chinese construction on small islands and atolls in disputed waters off China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan.  Over the past 18 months, the Chinese government has created islands out of atolls and larger islands out of small ones.

With the Obama administration’s “pivot” of the United States military and economic strategy to Asia and the Pacific, the Chinese have seen military construction in their front yard. 

Do People in the Philippines Appreciate What the U.S. Does for (to) Them?

Do people in the U.S. realize what their government is doing? Do they care? Read this:

Women's Organizing for Peace in the Philippines

(Speech delivered as a part of Women Cross the DMZ events at the Women's Peace Symposium on May 26, 2015, in Seoul, Korea)

By Liza L. Maza

Inline image 1

Photo by Niana Liu of Lisa Maza speaking at Women Cross the DMZ walk in Pyongyang, North Korea with 7,000 North Korean women

Greetings of peace to all especially to the  courageous and joyous women who are gathered here today calling for Peace and Reunification of Korea! Let me also convey to you the warm wishes of solidarity from GABRIELA Philippines and the International Women's Alliance (IWA), a global alliance of grassroots women's organizations.       
 
I am honored to speak before you today to share the experiences of Filipino women in organizing for peace in my country. I have been with the parliament of the state as representative of the Gabriela Women’s Party to the Philippine Congress for nine years and in the parliament of the streets as a feminist activist of the GABRIELA Women’s Coalition for half my lifetime. I will talk about the work of peace building of my organization, GABRIELA.

40 years after Vietnam: Celebrating the End of One War, and Witnessing the Start of a New One Here at Home

By Dave Lindorff


It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.” 


WHY ARE WE PLANNING TO WALK ACROSS THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE (DMZ) THAT SEPARATES NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA?

By Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, N.Ireland. Co-Founder, Peace People. N. Ireland

Almost two years ago, when Christine Ahn proposed international women peacemakers walk across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea as an important action to help support Korean women and men working for reconciliation and reuniting of Korean families, I couldn’t resist. This was an important first step in establishing a peace process in which women and civil community would be included.

Although many hurdles must still be jumped, including affirming support from three governments—North Korea, South Korea and the United States representing the United Nations Command. The UN command at the DMZ has said it would facilitate our crossing once South Koreas Government gives its approval —a small team of women are planning a historic walk of 30 international women peacemakers from twelve different countries to cross the DMZ on 24th May, 2015, International Women’s Disarmament Day. Some of the women participating are: Gloria Steinem, Hon.Chair,Ann Wright (USA) Suzuyo Takazato (Japan) Abigail Disney, (USA) Hyun-Kyung Chung (SouthKorea/USA),   Many people have asked ‘why are they planning to walk across the DMZ that separates North and South Korea.’?   Maybe the real question should be ‘Why not’!

In many countries around the world, women are walking and calling for an end to war and for a de-militarized world. As the DMZ is the most highly militarized border in the world, women peacemakers believe it is only right, whilst working all their lives in their own countries for disarmament and demilitarization, that they should walk in Korea, in solidarity with their Korean sisters, who want to see an end to the 70 year old conflict to reunify millions of Korean families. Seventy years ago, as the Cold War was being waged, the United States unilaterally drew the line across the 38th parallel—later with the former Soviet Union’s agreement—dividing an ancient country that had just suffered 35 years of Japanese colonial occupation. Koreans had no desire or decision-making power to stop their country from being divided; now seven decades later the conflict on the Korean peninsula threatens peace in the Asia Pacific and throughout our world.

The international women recognize that one of the greatest tragedies arising out of this man-made cold war politics and isolation is the tearing apart of Korean families and their physical separation from each other. In Korean culture, family relations are deeply important and millions of families have been painfully separated for 70 years. Although there was a period of reconciliation during the Sunshine Policy years between the two Korean governments where many families had the joy of reunion, but the vast majority remain separated. Many elders have sadly died before reunion with families, and most are getting older now. How wonderful if the governments of both North and South allowed the remaining elders the joy and peace of mind of being able to meet, kiss and hold their loved ones, before they die. We are all wishing and praying—and walking—for this to happen for the Korean elders. Also due to western sanctions and isolationist policies put on the North Korean people, their economy has suffered. Whilst North Korea has come a long way from the 1990s when up to one million died from famine, many people are still very poor and lack the very basics of survival. During a visit to Seoul in 2007, one aid worker told me most people in South Korea would love to pack their car with food, drive an hour up the road, into North Korea, to help their Korean brothers and sisters if the governments would agree to open the DMZ and let them cross over to see each other! Many of us take for granted that we can visit family, and we find it hard to imagine that pain of separation still felt by Korean families who cannot travel an hour up the road, through the DMZ to visit their families.

We international women want to walk for peace in North and South Korea, and hope the Governments will support our crossing the DMZ, recognizing that we are seeking to do this because we care for our Korean brothers and sisters. We want to plant a seed that Korean people, too, can be free to cross the DMZ in their work to build reconciliation, friendships and trust and put an end to the division and fear which keeps them in a state of war instead of peace.

The DMZ with its barbed wire, armed soldiers on both sides, and littered with thousands of explosive landmines is a tragic physical manifestation of how much the Korean people have suffered and lost in war. Yet from all my encounters with the Korean people, all they wish for is to be reconciled and live in peace with each other. In recognizing the wishes of the Korean people, I believe the political leaders of North Korea, South Korea, United States and all governments involved must play their parts to help Korea move from war to peace.

For the 30 international women who travel from over a dozen countries, we wish to go to Korea to listen to the Korean peoples stories, hopes and dreams, to tell them we love them, and join in solidarity with them in their work, and ours, in building a nonkilling, demilitarized Korea, Asia and World.

www.peacepeople.com

www.womencrossdmz.org

www.nobelwomensinitiative.com

 

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