Participating in the Peace Activists’ Conference for the
Life and Peace of Gangjeong Village held in the Gangjeong Village, Jeju, from
May 30 to June 2, we have discussed cooperation measures to save and nurture
Jeju as the Island of Peace. During the process, we reconfirmed the overall
problems of the Jeju naval base construction which is being enforced against the
will of the residents of Gangjeong Village.
First, the Jeju naval base construction is being enforced in an
anti-environmental manner, even though it is clear that it would bring serious
destruction to the heaven-blessed natural heritage of the island. Gureombi Rock
and the surrounding sea in the coastal area of Gangjeong Village is an absolute
conservation area, Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea-designated Natural
Memorial No. 442, and heaven-blessed natural heritage which is close to the
UNESCO-designated World Natural Heritage Site of Beom Island. However, for the
purpose of enforcement of the naval base construction, the government is
proceeding without proper eval!uation while expediently easing various
regulations. It should be obvious that the construction runs counter to the
basic purport of the World Conservation Congress that will be held on Jeju
Island this coming September.
Second, the Jeju naval base construction is being anti-democratically enforced,
ignoring the opposition of the majority of the villagers. Even though it is a
basic role of a government to protect the right of residents to live peacefully,
the Government is employing various anomalies and illegalities to deprive the
rights of Gangjeong Village residents. By charging villagers as lawbreakers, it
is also oppressing those who express their opposition to the illegal and
abnormal enforcement of construction (destruction) in peaceful ways with arrest,
detention and huge fines.
Third, in driving the naval base construction, the government is irresponsibly
making economic promises to the people of Jeju Island that it cannot keep. The
government has made a public pledge to provide economic compensation to
Gangjeong villagers and Jeju islanders by constructing a civilian port for the
simultaneous docking of two 150,000 ton cruise ships within the military port.
However the Prime Minister himself has acknowledged that such a pledge can
hardly be kept, considering its economic validity and reality. Also, it has
never been verified whether a civilian ship of such size could make a safe port
entry to the base without military control. It is becoming increasingly clear
that the government has no will to seriously carry out its promise to construct
a civilian port.
Fourth, above all, by militarizing Jeju Island and the Northeast Sea in the name
of maritime security, the naval base construction is actually threatening the
peace and prosperity of the region. The government and Navy, which has regarded
itself a junior partner in the U.S.-led maritime initiative to dominate
Northeast Asia of recent years, recently developed ROK-US-Japan maritime
military cooperation against China. The Jeju naval base is expected to be
utilized as its outpost. It is expected that US nuclear submarines and nuclear
aircraft carriers, not to mention South Korean Aegis destroyers, would use the
base as a port of call. This is not advisable for the peace and prosperity of
the whole of Northeast Asia, not to mention the future of South Korea-China
relations which will be marked by the 20th anniversary of good relations in
Jeju Island given its location should adopt a central role in Northeast Asia by
making the 21st century a true ‘era of peace and prosperity,’ overcoming the era
of confrontation and conflict. In designating Jeju as the World Peace Island the
stated purpose was to make it an exchange and cooperation hub of Northeast Asia
and the Sea of Northeast Asia as the Sea of Peace and Coexistence. The Jeju
naval base construction runs fundamentally counter to such a vision.
The Jeju Forum, an international forum that marks its seventh year this year,
aims for the construction of a Northeast Asian community for Peace and
Prosperity. In this year's forum, of which the subject is ‘New Trends and the
Future of Asia’, it is known that global corporate personnel, bureaucrats,
politicians, and researchers, not to mention Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Shik,
will join. To make a sea of horror and tension where the most technologically
war vessels would confront each other can never be the future of East Asia. The
pursuit of profit through militarism and to be silent on environmental
destruction and human rights violations can never be a new trend. We urgently
appeal to forum participants to seriously discuss the matters of militarization
of the Northeast Sea, environmental destruction and infringement of the human
rights of residents.
For the coexistence and prosperity of Asia into the future, Jeju Island should
remain wholly as the Island for Life and Peace. To make the Sea of Northeast
Asia as the Sea of Peace and Cooperation, the Jeju naval base construction
should be stopped.
June 1, 2012
the participants present of the Peace Activists’ Conference for Life and Peace
Hosting organizations: Gangjeong Village Association, Peace
Activists in Gangjeong, Pan-Island Committee for Prevention of Military Base and
for Realization of Peace Island, Nationwide Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval
Base Construction, Preparatory Committee for the Peace Activists’ Conference
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