The South Korean government is currently starting to build a naval base in Jeju Island, a Korean subtropical island that is the only place on earth to receive all three UNESCO designations in natural sciences. The island has been declared "a treasure island of environmental assets that the world has to preserve". Despite having this protection, the Korean government, with pressure from the US military, has started building a naval base. This act itself is illegal as the Korean government needs the island's governor's permission, as well as the Jeju residents' permission before starting this project, both of which the government has not done.
Jeju was recently selected among the New Seven Wonders of Nature, listed among the world's most precious cultural and national treasures. In addition, the rocky coastline (Gureombi rock) the government is trying to destroy to build this base, lines a marine ecosystem that is home to many endangered species such as the red-clawed crab. The spring water that comes up from the volcanic rocks provide the majority of the drinking water for the residents in the southern half of the island. The destruction of Gureombi threatens all the marine life and clean water that the local farmers and residents have come to depend upon.
The villagers of Gangjeong, who live right by Gureombi rock, have been peacefully protesting this project for years, but have only been met with violence from the Korean riot police. Last weekend, The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held it's 20th annual space organizing conference in Gangjeong village. Activists from all over the world came to speak about the dangers of building military bases where US military operates, carrying and testing nuclear weapons. Some of the activists came from towns where the US military has already been carrying out these projects, and shared stories about the effect this has had on the local population. The missiles that the US military are testing have depleted uranium that affect the locals long after the military leave the area. One only needs to look at the children being born with birth defects in Iraq due to the depleted uranium left behind by US military weapons. The villagers in Gangjeong are losing their energy, battling the riot police sent to the village by Samsung, Daelim (the companies building the base) and the Korean government, as the police try to crush all opposition. Hundreds of arrests have been made. Last weekend activists from the UK, France, Ireland, Sweden, USA, and New Zealand were arrested along with the Gangjeong villagers, for peacefully protesting, and trying to go to Gureombi rock, a place that is scared to the locals, and is still PUBLIC PROPERTY.
Stand up for human rights, for peace, and for preservation of nature! If you are interested in really making your voice heard, phone the South Korean embassy in your city/town and tell the employees that you do not support this decision.
We demand the naval base construction to be stopped immediately, until the government of Korea lets all the villagers of Gangjeong properly vote on this issue. The Office of Prime Minister and government should verify all the process of the naval construction in a just and transparent way and totally reappraise its validity. We ask the Jeju Island government to cancel the Navy's license of reclamation of the public water and its adjacent surface of the Gureombi rocky coast with its official power. Building a military base that the US will use to "keep a close eye on China" will only put South Korea in the middle of escalating political tension, while destroying the ecosystem of Jeju Island, disrupting the lives of the local fishermen and villagers, and creating life-threatening pollution through the testing of depleted uranium based military weapons. Do not let the US pressure you into building another military playground in South Korea for the US to use at its leisure.
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