A Memorial for all Those Who Lost Their Lives in the Korean War and Korea Peace
Press Conference on the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice
Cease Hostility, End the Korean War, Peace Now!
27 July (Thu) 10:00am, Imjingak
27 July 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement. The warring parties never implemented the promise to hold a political conference for a “peaceful settlement of the Korean question” within three months after the temporary cessation of the 3-years of combat. In the 70 years since, military confrontations and an arms race have continued on the Korean Peninsula across the armistice line.
Tensions are rising again as the uneasy ceasefire is far from over. That dawn, when an emergency text alert and siren went off warning to “prepare to evacuate”, although it turned out to be a false alarm, Seoul citizens were made aware of the heightened risk of war. The risk of nuclear war is also growing, with US strategic nuclear submarines (SSBN) entering South Korea for the first time in decades. The Korean Peninsula is in the midst of a major confrontation between the United States and South Korea, with large-scale joint military exercises, the deployment of strategic assets, and the test launch of a North Korean ICBM. Even an accidental conflict would have catastrophic consequences.
But there is no sign of any realistic measures to prevent crashes anywhere. In particular, President Yoon Seok-yul has been stoking hostility and conflict by labeling those who call for the “end of war” as “anti-state forces”. President Yoon’s unrealistic “peace through power” and “all-in” policy on the ROK-US military alliance and ROK-US-Japan military cooperation are putting everyone at risk of war. Now is the time to focus on preventing armed conflict, not practicing war. We must stop all hostile policies and military actions and create conditions for dialogue again.
<Korea Peace Appeal Campaign> held a <memorial for all those who lost their lives in the Korean War and Korea Peace> followed by the <Press Conference on the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice : Cease Hostility, End the Korean War, Peace Now!> on Thursday, 27 July, at 10 a.m., in front of the barricades of the Unification Bridge at Imjingak. On the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, domestic and international civil society organizations that have been working together for peace on the Korean Peninsula since 2020 gathered in front of the border fence to pray for the repose of the victims of the war and to reiterate hopes and demands for peace that cannot be abandoned. There were feature remarks by representatives of civil society organizations, announcement of Peace Declaration, and a performance of tying peace ribbons to the fence of Imjingak.
<Korea Peace Appeal Campaign> initially requested permission from the Ministry of National Defense to hold a press conference in front of the gate to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). However, permission was ultimately denied, and the press conference ended up being held in front of the barricade at Imjingak Unification Bridge.
photos by Korea Peace Appeal Campaign
Korea Peace Declaration for the 70th Anniversary of the Armistice
Cease Hostility, End the Korean War, Peace Now!
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement. The warring parties have not implemented the promise to hold a political conference for a “peaceful settlement of the Korean question” within three months after the temporary cessation of the three years of combat. In the 70 years since, military confrontations and an arms race have continued on the Korean Peninsula across the armistice line. The Korean War is the longest war in world history since the 20th century.
The fear of war has hung over the Korean Peninsula daily for the past 70 years. The arms race and demonstrations of force that began with hostility and mistrust have led to a vicious cycle of deeper mistrust and military threats. The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is part of this vicious cycle. Deep-seated animosity and insecurity across the war system of division have limited democratic rights, fostered destructive conflict, and hindered social development. The barriers of confrontation and sanctions have prevented humanitarian cooperation between two Koreas and joint responses to the climate crisis.
We must not pretend there have been no opportunities to end hostilities and the war and to establish peace. Through several inter-Korean summits, there were opportunities to improve inter-Korean relations and reduce tensions. In 2018, the ROK, DPRK, and United States leaders agreed to build trust and move toward peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula through improved relations. However, despite the hopes and aspirations of many, this agreement has not been fulfilled. The parties could not reach a consensus on the next steps required for a new relationship.
Since the breakdown of this deal, the situation has become even worse than before, with increased distrust and intensified hostility. North Korea has withdrawn its moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests in protest of the lack of reciprocal measures, such as the suspension of the ROK-US combined military exercises, and is rapidly “consolidating its nuclear war deterrent”. South Korea and the US have dramatically increased the intensity and frequency of military demonstrations against North Korea, including the ROK-US military exercises, while reorganizing the ROK-US military cooperation into a “nuclear-based alliance”. Under the leadership of the US, South Korea and Japan are trying to build a regional military cooperation system against not only North Korea but also China and Russia, upgrading this to the level of an alliance.
Even the 70-year ceasefire is in jeopardy today as parties who are supposed to be at the negotiating table continue their shows of force instead. On the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, we express deep concern about the escalating threat of nuclear war on and around the Korean Peninsula amidst the breakdown of dialogue and rise of military confrontation between the countries involved in the Korean War. And expressing the aspirations of the Korean people and the rest of the world for peace, we declare the following:
- Everyone, including the 80 million people who live on the Korean Peninsula, has the right to lead a happy life in peace and security. We will not allow war to break out on the Korean Peninsula ever again. War can never be the solution on the Korean Peninsula or anywhere else in the world. The parties to the Korean War and related countries must use only peaceful means to resolve conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
- 70 years is enough. This ‘forever war’, with its unstable ceasefire, must end now. ‘Building a permanent and stable peace regime’ and ‘complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula’ can only be fully realized by ending the Korean War. The parties to the Korean War should declare an end to the war as soon as possible and replace the armistice agreement with a peace agreement.
- The Korean Peninsula should be a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. Efforts to realize the nuclear-free Korean Peninsula are closely linked to humanity’s long-standing efforts to move toward a nuclear-free world. The parties to the Korean War and related countries must work together to realize a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and pledge to one another not to threaten each other with nuclear weapons or any other military means. They must also support international efforts to ban and abolish nuclear weapons.
- One-sided sanctions and pressure have not resolved the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, but only exacerbated it. We must return to the spirit of consensus between the ROK-DPRK and DPRK-US leaders, who recognized that a transition to a new relationship is the starting point for resolving the problem. All negotiating parties must cease hostile policies and actions and build a foundation of trust to resume dialogue. In particular, proactive measures such as cessation of aggressive military actions and easing of sanctions against North Korea should be taken to reopen the door to dialogue.
- The vicious cycle of the arms race and mutual threats has to end. Instead of factional confrontation and factional military cooperation, the parties to the Korean War and the relevant countries should all work together to build a peaceful and cooperative Korean Peninsula and Asia-Pacific. Instead of preparing for war, precious resources should be used to keep people safe and happy, overcome the climate crisis, and save the planet.
We dream of a peaceful world where the Korean people, the people of all countries involved in the Korean War, and all humanity can live sustainable and happy lives with the earth. If we want peace, we must call for peace, and we must act for peace. Let’s end the long war that has lasted for more than 70 years on the Korean Peninsula and open a new history of peace that we have never seen before, together with all humanity.
27 July 2023
Korea Peace Appeal Campaign
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