Chejudo: Resign, Island Governor! 2012-05-28
"Resign, Island Governor!"
No Military Base! Yes, Life and Peace Island!
The "civilian-military dual-use" base is a lie!
Stop the destruction, human rights violations and pro-nuclear MD policy!
Five leaders of Gangjeong village including mayor Kang and chair of women's committee
shaved their heads demanding the resignation of governor Woo Keun-Min on May 24.
(Photos by Emily Wang and Cho Sung-Bong)
Jeju Island Governor Woo Keun-Min has finally lost the confidence of the Gangjeong villagers. It has been revealed that he doesn't have the will to order the navy to stop construction (destruction). For a long time, he has utilized stalling tactics and avoided deciding between the central government and Gangjeong villagers. However, it seems certain that he stands by the government and actually permits construction of the military base even though he knows that the construction has many problems. Therefore, five leaders, including Gangjeong mayor Kang Dong-Kyun, shaved their head in protest of the governor's dubious decision while announcing, "A new struggle to make him resign has begun!"
Moreover, while the environmental destruction issues have been raised, there have recently also been questions posed by the Jeju media that there are illegal and unreliable points in the process of the caisson production. It turned out that Samsung C & T used shorter caisson rods than legally allowed by regulation. It seems that the Samsung C & T is trying to construct the naval base in violent haste in order to save time and expense.
Despite all the hardships, the people's efforts to save the village are spreading far nationwide, especially in Seoul where people hold a Gangjeong camp at the Jogye Buddhist temple and human rights film festival.
Catholic mass to stop the Jeju military base and say No to the designation of Gangjeong village as military restriction zone was held in front of the Integrated Government Building in Seoul. About 500 people gathered at the mass and sang and danced together. Moreover, they encouraged each other to maintain the resistance in effort to save Gangejong.
An active service captain, who graduated from military academy, stood in the military court as a defendant under the charge of 'insulting higher officers,' including the President Lee, for his political remarks in tweeter. One of his remarks was that even though he was in favor of the naval base in the Gangjeong village in principal, it is a violation of democracy to forcefully enforce it. (Ohmynews, May 26)
On the Day of UN Bio-diversity Day, the Gangejong village reported that the numbers of sweet fish in the Gangjeong stream have rapidly decreased with the naval base construction (destruction). The sweet fish normally return from the sea to the stream during March to May, but blasting at the Gureombi Rock and underwater coincided with the species annual return and is suspected to be the cause of reduction of sweet fishes.
Based on the result of activities by the citizens' monitoring committee on illegal naval base construction, Gangjeong village committee to stop naval base has submitted proofs of navy's illegal construction to the Island government, demanding the governor's order to stop of construction. The villagers' press release included the matter of the illegal and unreliable caisson productions by the Samsung C& T contracted company.
The caisson is a giant structure of about 10 stories height and 8,800 ton for each. It is unquestionable that the steel frames of these structures should be strictly constructed according to the layout. However, news daily, Jeju Sori, revealed that lower part of caisson is connected with the reinforcing rods of 800mm while upper part is connected with far shorter 200 mm. According to the informant to the Jeju Sori, the strength of structure is weaker when the joint of the reinforcing rods is shorter. He also said, "If caissons are unreliably constructed, the possibility of damage by shocks due to sea wave and big military vessels when they come alongside the pier becomes higher. Verification of caisson dimensions becomes impossible once those caissons are thrown into the sea."
It is known that about 220 workers including 180 Vietnamese and 40 Koreans are working on caisson production doing all-night works in Hwasoon port nearby Gangjeong. The Samsung C & T is to throw 57 caissons into the Gangjeong Sea over the coming 19 months.
The Jeju media detailed the villagers' press release on May 22 with some photos. Those contents included: (1) The noise level of the construction site exceeds standard levels. (2) Dredging was done despite damage in the silt protection layer. Further it was found that only floating was installed on the surface and there was nothing underneath (floating is then only decoration?) as a result of citizens' underwater monitoring. (3) The construction was not postponed even during a period of strong winds, which carried dust from construction site and deposited it onto farm houses, to the damage of those. It is the dereliction of the Jeju Island government in its failure to enforce construction standards and to not to stop construction (destruction).
However, Woo Keun-Min, showing himself in a broadcasting talk, said that, "The conditions are not appropriate yet to make an order to stop construction." Further mentioning the result of hearings that have been prolonged three times to the fury of villagers, he said that, "There was no problem." It was his first official remarks on the result of the hearing that had ended on April 12. Woo's such remarks are great turn from the Island government's original position that he implied the possibility on the order of stoppage of construction. In the beginning, there were two controversial points in the hearing and the island government has implied that both of them were applicable to the cause of a stoppage order. One was that construction has to be posed until the change of execution plan, such as layout, for the simultaneous mooring of two 150,000 ton cruises. The other was due to a great change in the execution plan on public water and its adjacent surface, following March 2 Government report and measure on technical verification.
Governor's change of position was a great betrayal to the villagers (who have rejected fraud ideas of civilian-military dual port and simultaneous mooring of two 150,000 ton cruises from the beginning) and the island people.
Villagers' fury was increased as the Jeju Local Police Office made public that it was investigating some accounts including the Gangjeong Village Association's, with the charge of violation on the law on collection and use of fund & support material. Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun said, "The collection of fund has been done for years, thanks to the citizens nationwide who try to save the village and Gureombi Rock. The fund account has been monitored by the supervising committee of village association and transparently reported in every annual general meeting. Then why does the government do such investigation only right before the President election saying it is illegal etc, if not to oppress the opposition groups against naval base?"
Five leaders of the Villagers Committee to Stop the Naval Base shaved their heads at the island government hall yard. They are Jung Young-Hee, chairwoman of the village Women's Committee, Mr. Kang Dong-Kyun (Mayor), Mr. Cho Kyung-Chul (Vice-mayor), Mr. Go Gwon-Il (Chairman of the Villagers' Committee to Stop the Naval Base), and Mr. Kim Jong-Hwan (villager, cook). Jung Young-Hee said, "My hairs will be long again but once naval base enters in the village, it would be very hard to restore."
It was after the villagers held a press conference in which they declared that they would no longer trust the governor Woo Keun-Min as he has actually submitted to the central government while the destruction including the blasting of the Gureombi Rock has been enforced despite daily 1000 life and peace bows (6,000 bows as of May 24). Shaving struggle aims to show the protesters' determined will by removing a part of one's body. Therefore, theses leaders clarify not to expect about Woo Keun-Min's order to stop construction from today. Governor Woo is dead! New struggle to make him resign has begun! Mock portrait of governor Woo was burnt by the villagers. Despite all the fury and disappointments, the villagers held a renewed vital candle vigil in a square of Seogwipo City in the evening.
Meanwhile governor Woo who had boycotted Prime Minister's unilateral real-time simulation meeting on May 18, expressed the island government's position to request the central government on joint real-time re-simulation again.
On the other hand, Solidarity USA for Gangjeong was held Atlanta, Georgia. They were picketing at the downtown with saying, "No US Military in South Korea."
The 2nd regular protest in front of South Korean consulate in Osaka was held by the members of AWC-Japan. Slogans included: No Naval Base on Jeju!, Stop repression against villagers!, and Withdraw the entry-ban!
Also, Seoul Human Rights Film Festival was held at the downtown in Seoul. Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon gave a speech of encouragement at the opening of the film festival because three films about Gangjeong will be shown. At the same place, peace activists had a booth to let citizens know about naval base at Gangjeong and to get financial support through selling books, mugs and sewing kits related to Gureombi Rock and dolphins at Gangeong.
Fierce protest initiated by Catholic priests was staged in the afternoon. A man held an 8-hour-sit-in on the top of cement mixer truck. A candle vigil was held in front of main gate of the construction site. It was Catholic priests who made a strong protest after Catholic mass at 11am. Having lunch in front gate of the construction area in robes, they were roughed up by company thugs. When the cement mixer trucks began to enter into it, a man, Mr. Lee, Catholic follower climbed up to a cement mixer truck with a flag of 'no naval base,' persistently keeping the place for near eight hours. Meanwhile, a Catholic Priest Kim laid down his body until 4pm in front of gate of the naval base project committee complex area to block cement mixer trucks' entry there, too.
Village siren rang again in three weeks and many villagers and activists came for protest. Some of them were violently dealt with by male and female policemen during one clash.
After long hours' protest that went on by 8pm, people held the candle vigil at the very site. Tens of teenage students from a school, having visit of the village for days, joined it with their joyful music performance.
On same day, the 3rd caisson of unreliable construction, made and transported by Samsung C & T, came to the Gangjeong Sea. It is not clear yet whether the ship has gotten required inspection. Save Our Sea (SOS) team that went to the caisson in kayaks in early dawn for protest said, "The Gangjeong Sea is dying. Odors have begun to surface in once pristine swimming sites. The haze of water is gradually increasing."
The Headline Jeju reported, 'The navy plans to produce 57 caissons by the end of next year. It also plans to start 3,000 ton caissons here (the area where blast has been done in the Gureombi Rock), once the caisson production work site is completed. It is expected that another 4th caisson-dropping will be continued in coming day, it says.
On May 26, Im Tae-Hee, former director of Presidential Office and a member of ruling party, Saenuri, visited the village and had a meeting with the villagers. His words sounded good but he had no mention on construction (destruction) stop. Actually he said construction should be continued despite undemocratic procedures.
On Sunny Sunday, tens of people including mayor Kang Dong-Kyun went to the Jeju City to hold a hours-long silent protest to pressure the Democratic United Party that has been having the traveling party meetings throughout its regional branches to elect its Party representative and supreme party members. It is the main Opposition Party that got 127 seats on April 11 General election ( * The Saenuri Party which is a ruling Party got 157 seats) .
The people surrounded the hall of the Jeju Province small & medium Business Center where the election event was held with pickets and yellow flags of 'Absolutely No Naval Base.' A wing car that continuously screened a video on people's struggle was parked in front of the building where people greeted event participants with public relation materials and Gangjeong-unique 'addictive dance,' too. The other peace activists and visiting students from Sandol School joyfully distributed public relation materials to the people in the City of Seogwipo.
On the National Holiday celebrating Buddha's birthday, activists in the village and Seoul visited many sites including Buddhist temples for public relation on the naval base issues. In Seoul, Ssangyong workers joined activists' effort to save Gangjeong village in the Jogye Buddhist temple where a camp to save the village is being held. Ms. Im Su-Kyung, a legendary unification activist who crossed the DMZ in 1989 and a newly elected member of National Assembly held the sign, 'Peace to Gangjeong, Jeju with the mercy of Buddha'.
Take Action:1. Please take some time to write protest letters to the government and the naval base planners and contractors. Demand that they revoke the Jeju naval base project in the Peace Island; that they should stop lying that the port will be a civilian-military port; and that they should not enforce the revision of the two acts which would establish the construction (destruction) zone as a closed military facility, which is illegal and a violation of government's promises to the people. Please tell them that the base construction (destruction) continues at the cost of destruction of a community, democracy, human rights, the environment, and the peace of the Gangjeong villagers. Tell them that the base being built in the Jeju will make Jeju a target of war, contribute to political instability in Asia, and only profit the arms industries such as Samsung and Daelim who employs thugs to oppress protesters. Please remind that the current government oppression to people is reminiscent of a 2nd 4.3.
Appropriate addresses can be found here:
http://www.secc.co.kr/eng/html/customer/contactus.asp (Samsung C & T)
2. Please write a letter to Woo Keun-Min, Island governor, to immediately order the halt of the construction (destruction); to stop the deceptive propaganda regarding the so-called "Beautiful tourism port for mixed civilian-military dual-use" which in reality is only 100% a military base; to revoke the navy license for reclamation of the coast and sea in the base project area; and to restore the absolute preservation area that was annulled for the naval base project through undemocratic procedures in 2009. Also please demand that he give a sincere apology to the villagers and activists whom he ordered to be attacked on March 26 and May 18.
Mr. Woo Keun-Min, Jeju Island Governor: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Please write to the Democratic United party members to work harder to revoke the Jeju naval base project. Please tell them that the so-called "Beautiful Tourism Port for Mixed Civilian-Military Use", has been confirmed as a fraud and that the party should resolutely reject the Lee Myung-Bak government's enforcement of Jeju naval base project under such deceptive propaganda. Please remind them that the party's election pledge was to "re-examine the project from the beginning point" and that they should also consider a special inspection system for the Jeju naval base issue, regarding crimes committed by the government. Pressuring them is very important, as their party is the main opposition party:
Park Ji-Won, Representative of Democratic United Party, Democratic United Party Representative within the National Assembly, Supreme member of the Democratic Party: email@example.com
4. Please also consider signing the petitions on Avaaz (http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_jeju/?vl) and distributing this letter among your networks.
5. For more immediate situation updates, join the facebook group, 'No Naval Base on Jeju'.
6. Please write encouraging letters to Dr. (or Brother) Song who has been in Jail since April 1.
Dr. Song Kang-Ho (No. 611)
161 Ora-2dong, Jeju City,
Jeju, the Peace Island, Korea
This newsletter/appeal is updated every week.
The Extended International Team of Gangjeong Village
May 28, 2012