The Join Statement of the Opposition Parties and the Civil Society on the Artillery Drills
On 20th December, the Lee Myung-bak government of South Korea enforced artillery drills despite the civil society’s deep concerns and objections. People cannot help but bearing anxiety and fear all day long while watching armed confrontation and threatening provocative actions between North and South Korea. Fortunately, North Korea held immediate counter-artillery fire. However, it did not mean that armed conflict on the West Sea and fear for an all-out war cleared. Rather, it vividly revealed that the North-South confrontation regarding the demarcation line on the West Sea could easily result in armed conflict. The peace became further and further from the West Sea and people.
The North and South still keep continuing fatal armed confrontation following artillery exchanges on the Yeonpyeong Island. As facing the most critical crisis on the Korean Peninsular, we, the opposition parties and the civil society, present the position as follow.
First of all, we strongly denounce that Lee Myung-bak government enforced artillery drills although the civil society and the international society showed deep concerns and the possibility of armed conflict was really there. The Lee government did not put any efforts for making the West Sea a peace zone without armed conflict between the North and South, but took armed confrontation. It did not take any measures for relieving armed tension, but retribution and retaliation first with mobilizing overwhelming military capacity. It neglected people’s lives and safety that should be put first, but it uncompromising enforced armed demonstrations that could result in a war. No reasons and excuses justify such acts neglecting basic accountability of government.
That is why majority of people are raising suspicions on that this armed demonstration is for turning the public opinion toward the government. Namely, the Lee government and the ruling party made an atmosphere of hard line toward North Korea so as to calm the criticisms regarding the rush-pass of the 2011 budget bill with no consultation with opposition parties.
We urge both North and South Korea refrain from all kinds of armed acts so as to prevent armed conflict. Obviously, it is very fortunate that the artillery drills of South Korea did not result in retaliative artillery exchanges by North Korea. However, it is yet to say North Korea withdrew its counterattack since North Korea has announced that “it will deliver the second, third blow with unexpected means”. In order to prevent additional armed conflict on the West Sea, not only the Lee Myung-bak government but also North Korea should refrain from additional military responses and even threatening, provocative remarks. Armed conflict, which can come near an all-out war, will only cause killings and destruction. It is beneficial to no one, neither North Korea nor South Korea.
North Korea and South Korea should immediately initiate a dialogue for fundamental resolution of the military crisis on the Korean Peninsula as well as preventing further armed conflict. If further enforcement of military drills near Yeonpyeong Island without an effort for a dialogue, it would bring serious catastrophe resulting in co-ruin. What the government has to do now is not repeatedly driving people towards extreme anxiety and fear for a war, but initiating an accountable dialogue and negotiation for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It is a positive signal for initiating a dialogue that North Korea held artillery exchange and agreed on the reintroduction of the IAEA inspection and the transfer of nuclear fuel rods overseas. The government had better immediately initiate a dialogue for resolving conflicting matters on the West Sea and achieving permanent peace. It is not military but dialogue and negotiation that brings peace back.
21st December 2010
South Korean Committee for the Implementation of 6.15th South-North Joint Declaration, Civil Society Organization Network in Korea
Democratic Party, Democratic Labor Party, New Progressive Party, The Participation Party, Socialist Party
※ Contact : PSPD(People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy)
Center for Peace and Disarmament
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