Not one stone, not one flower

IssueApril 2012
News by PN

Jeju was named an ‘Island of World Peace’ by the South Korean government in 2005. Opponents have raised concerns over the environmental destruction of Jeju, which contains several UNESCO World Heritage sites, and its potential to escalate military tensions in the region.

Gangjeong villagers have been engaged in a five-year struggle, and 94% of Jeju islanders voted against construction of the base.

A popular protest slogan is: ‘Touch not one stone, not one flower’.

Though there has been support from the local governor, the Korean government appears under pressure from the US to complete the project.

Military tension

The base will contribute to the growing US military presence in the region, with China as its focus.

Jeju is set to become a port for US navy aircraft carriers and Aegis destroyers fitted with SM-3 missile interceptors. This US ‘missile defense’ system will heighten international tensions as it could assist the US in launching a nuclear first strike without fear of retaliation.

Angie Zelter, a resident of Knighton in Powys and a nominee for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, said: ‘With all my heart I believe that Gangjeong villagers’ peaceful lives and the pristine nature of Jeju deserve to be protected from this aggressive act by the Korean navy and its US backers.

‘I am happy to do my little bit to help. Building the naval base does not advance the security of Jeju or South Korea - it just adds to military tension on and around the Korean peninsula. This affects us all.’

The total number of arrests on Jeju exceeds 400. Angie was released but re-arrested on 12 March for cutting the perimeter wire with bolt-cutters and entering the construction site.

Held in an immigration centre prior to deportation, Angie was eventually released but ordered to leave the country. At the time of going to press she had not complied and continues campaigning.

Topics: Anti-militarism
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