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Internationals join Jeju island protests

Demonstrations against new naval base heat up.

On 10 March, after several days of creative demonstrations, 29 protesters broke into the construction site of a projected naval base on Jeju island, 62 miles south of mainland South Korea. Locals believe that the US navy intends to use the base as part of its anti-China policy.

Two international activists in the 10 March group, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Angie Zelter, and French activist Benjamin Monnet, were deported on 15 March.

The people of Jeju have been resisting the construction of the base for the past five years. In a recent poll, 97% of those living on the island said they were against the project.

Construction of the base will require the destruction of the village of Gangjeong, a community of 1,500 people at the centre of the site.

On 20 March, South Korea’s most famous film critic, professor Yang Yoon Mo, was released from his second term of imprisonment for nonviolently resisting the construction of the base. While in prison, Yang Yoon Mo held a 36-day hunger strike (his first hunger strike last summer lasted 71 days).

While still in Jeju, Angie Zelter reported that the opposition parties in South Korea had responded to the high-profile protests by collectively pledging that they will stop the construction going ahead if they come into power after national elections in April.

John M Lindsay is a PN student reporter.

Topics: Anti-militarism