International groups and individuals are supporting villagers in their fight to stop the building of a US nuclear base on Jeju, the South Korean “Island of Peace”.
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space are holding their twentieth annual space organising conference in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island this weekend (24-26 February). The Network is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the development of a new arms race in space. The theme for the conference is "Jeju for Island of Peace".
The South Korean Navy is building a new base just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland which will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers fitted with the missile defence systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.
The 400-year old Gangjeong fishing and farming village on Jeju Island is being destroyed to build the base. Trident Ploughshares report that endangered soft-coral reefs offshore will also be destroyed when the seabed is dredged to make it possible to bring US warships into the port.
Activists have come to Jeju Island from as far away as India, the UK, Sweden, the US, Japan, Taiwan, and from throughout South Korea to discuss the controversial missile defence deployments that are now being used to surround Russia and China.
Global Network Co-ordinator Bruce Gagnon reported that US activists who phoned the South Korean embassy over the issue had been told by the embassy to call their own government instead. They said the US was "forcing" South Korea to build the base.
Gagnon added, "The currently planned doubling of US military operations in the Asia-Pacific region is has raised serious concerns about the impact on people who live there and for world peace".
Angie Zelter, founder of the non-violent Trident Ploughshares campaign and a nominee for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is speaking at the conference.
"I will be staying on for a month to give whatever support I can to this brave and peaceful struggle," she explained.
The villagers have been resisting this US base for over five years. There have been 197 arrests of villagers in the last eight months alone.
Zelter said, "Peace groups on the Korean mainland that support the protests are now facing rising oppression by the National Intelligence Service of Korea. They need international support. We are all in the same struggle to prevent war and endless militarisation."