Mayor Kang from Gangjeong village trying to defend the tents across from Navy base construction gate
Village protest chairman Go Gwon Il chained to top of tent
Village protest cook Uncle Jonghwan
Gangjeong villagers last night were removed while protecting tents they had long used just across the road from the Navy base construction gate on Jeju Island, South Korea. The government appears to be continuing with its fierce crackdown since the election of the new president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former brutal South Korean dictator who had once served as an officer in the Japanese imperial Army. He was essentially a US puppet and his daughter appears to be serving the same purpose today.
The villager tents were used by construction gate protesters to rest, offer information to the public, and to display banners in opposition to the base. In the current climate they are being removed again and again from various public spaces as the Navy tightens its grip on the village. Navy plans reveal that they intend to take significant portions of the village for military personnel housing once the port facilities are complete.
This base will be a key port for the US Navy that is now moving 60% of its forces to the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama's dangerous and destabilizing military "pivot" into the region. Gangjeong village sits just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland making the proposed Navy base there a strategic outpost for the Pentagon's goal of controling the shipping lanes which China uses to import 80% of its oil.
It is ironic that just last night I went to see the award-winning documentary film called Five Broken Cameras that was shown by Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby Bowdoin College. The story of Palestinian lands being stolen by force in order to build Jewish settlements is sadly similar to the Jeju Island story. At the very time we were watching that film the latest crackdown on Jeju was also happening.
In recent weeks the Jeju crackdown has included the deportation of several international activists who had been in the village offering solidarity for quite a long time. We've got to get more internationals to go to Jeju so that the villagers are not isolated from the rest of the world.
As I write this three of the four who were arrested last night (including Mayor Kang) were still being detained.
In the meantime you can follow the story by visiting the Save Jeju Now website here
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We must consistently confront the power interests that assault our communities, whether this assault is by economic exploitation or military violence, and whether the communities are constructed by people or by nature.