Jeju Island should remain an island of life and peace
- 2011.10.04 (10:18:40)
9/20 제주해군기지 갈등해결을 위한 비상시국회의 선언문을 영어로 옮겼습니다.
In 2005, the South Korean government and the citizens of Jeju Island declared Jeju Island as an "island of world peace." The declaration reads, "The South Korean government declares Jeju Island to be an island of world peace in order to maintain the traditional 'Sammu' spirit, to transform the tragedy of the April 3rd Incident into reconciliation and cooperation, and to contribute to world peace by passing on the work of hosting series of peace summits."
Today, we are asking:
Is building a massive naval base surrounded by barbed-wire fence and gates the way to keep the traditional 'Sammu' spirit - in which there are no thieves, no beggars, and no need for gates between neighbors? Is circumventing the law to divide people who have lived peacefully for thousands of years and using force to persecute villagers who resist the government's plan the way to transform the tragedy of the April 3rd Incident? Is the construction of the naval base, which may be used by the U.S. navy to defend their interests against China, really a way to pass on the spirit of international peace summits? Can Jeju, as an "island of peace" co-exists with U.S. Aegis warships and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines?
In history, Gangjeong Village, where springs of water provide clean water during all four seasons, was one of the places of origin of the people of Jeju. People have been living peacefully without locking doors for generations. This tradition of Jeju Island started from the beautiful and abundant land, river, and sea of Gangjeong village. It is not a coincidence that seven-thousand-year-old artifacts have been discovered near Gangjeong Gureombi rocks. Covering the beautiful Gureombi rock and abundant sea of Gangjeong with concrete, building fencing on this land that holds historical artifacts, and gathering national and foreign warships which could lead to increased militarism must be stopped.
Thus, we declare the following:
Jeju Island should remain an "island of peace," not an island caught in the Cold War or trapped by military competition.
A new era has begun in Northeast Asia. Military tension and conflict caused by the construction of the military base will prevent a future of reconciliation and cooperation, which is the required core of this new era. Keeping Jeju an international island of peace is the only way to ensure that Northeast Asia becomes a community that works for the good of all people in the region.
The use of force and circumvention of the law, which threaten the basic human rights for a peaceful life, should not be allowed.
No one can take away or abuse the basic human rights for a peaceful life for all of the people and creatures that live near the Gureombi rock and stream. Using force and circumvention of the law to respond to reasonable questions and resistance from the people should not be justified in the name of national security or national projects. In the construction process, the Korean government, the Navy and the Jeju government have worked to manipulate people by intentionally dividing people's opinions and by doing little or nothing at all on the work of environmental assessment. This is something that the institutions for public security, in a country that believes in the values of democracy and human rights, should not do.
The government should release those who have been arrested and should enter into sincere dialogue with the people of Gangjeong Village.
The five opposition parties have already urged the current administration to stop the construction project in order to review the legality of the procedures used in the project and to resolve the conflicts among the villagers. Leaders of the seven major religions have also appealed to the government to solve this problem by engaging in peaceful dialogue with the villagers. Nevertheless, the government has continued the construction on the basis of their own justification through manipulation of the law and people. The government has also imprisoned some of those who resist, and have filed civil lawsuits against many others. How can dialogue be possible when village representatives are in prison? In order to have sincere dialogue with the people, first construction must be stopped and all village representatives and peace activists must be released. We will continue to struggle for the release of the villagers and peace activists, and we will share the economic burden of the villagers who are suffering from civil lawsuits.
Construction must be stopped in order to protect the historical artifacts which have been discovered in the area around the Gureombi rock.
Even though historical artifacts that show the progression of the history of housing in Jeju have been found near Gureombi, the Korean navy continues the construction in an area surrounded by a high fence. And there are many historical artifacts in the ground right under this fence. However, even the government department in charge of cultural preservation has allowed this construction to continue. Construction projects that could cause damage to historical artifacts are illegal. Therefore, the government and the ruling party should stop the construction immediately and create a process for discovery of the artifacts that is shared openly with the public and experts.
The government and ruling party should accept the request for an investigation by the Parliament regarding the process of the naval base construction project.
There have been numerous problems in the process of the naval base construction project. And the purpose of the base is still unclear: whether it will be a military port, or if it will be a military and civil port, as the navy claims? The government and ruling party should accept the request for an investigation in order to provide answers to the people of Jeju Island. Part of this investigation should consider whether the naval base can really be compatible with the concept of Jeju as an "island of peace," and whether the naval base will fit in with this new era in Northeast Asia.
The way to preserve the Gureombi rock and Gangjeong village is the way toward peace, and the way toward a safer world.
Now Gangjeong villagers are stretching out their empty hands and pleading, "Please save Gangjeong!" Their cries sound all the more desperate as they have been depending only on peaceful means to share their message. The government and Parliament should not ignore these desperate cries. We believe that it is possible both to preserve the right to peaceful living for Gangjeong villagers, and to preserve the right to peaceful coexistence between Korea and its neighboring countries. This path looks narrow, but it is the only way that will bring life and peace. We will walk the path where we can save Gureombi, Jeju, and all of us.
September 20, 2011
Participants of an Emergency Contingency Gathering to
Resolve the Jeju Naval Base Conflict
A message from Kang Dong-gyun, chieftain of Gangjeong Village
Peace, of course, is important on the large scale. But I think that peace on a small scale, such as for individuals and communities, is more important. If national security efforts focus only on the security of the whole country, but igonore security for individuals, they are meaningless.
Basically, national security and peace should be based on the consent of the people. Policies that are passed without having the consent of the people cannot be justified. When a government follows the voice of the people, there is a sense of strong solidarity and momentum, like a strong building made of cement mixed with grains of sand. When a society ignores individual rights, it is like an unstable building that is built on the sand. Such a society lacks strong solidarity and momentum to move forward. Unfortunately, the policies of the current government are creating this kind of society. The Jeju naval base construction issue is a prime example. How can a naval base project that pushes villagers into a state of chaos be justified on this "island of peace"?
The whole naval base project should be reconsidered because since the very first step of this project - the process of getting consent from the villagers - things have gone wrong. Starting to button your shirt wrong means that the result in the end will inevitably be wrong, and your shirt will not fit well or look good. So you have to undo all of the buttons and start buttoning again. I think that human beings are called the 'head of all creation' because we have the ability to correct what we have done wrong. I don't blame those who agree with the naval base construction. I just want to point out what has gone wrong and what needs to be corrected. I am not against the government policy either, but I am questioning why the government is not correcting the problems even when they realize there is something wrong. This is why I am insisting that this project needs to be reconsidered. One lie leads to another lie, and ignoring the problems of the construction project will lead to a bigger disaster. This naval base construction project continues to bury the problems in the ground, and in the future, those problems will resurface to create a major disaster. Burying the problems is a serious crime that eventually shake even the foundation of our country. This construction base, being pursued by the navy for their own sake, without valid reasons for national security, must be stopped in the name of the people. The first step toward true peace and security depends on us. Let's join to work together.
September 19, 2011