Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, March 03, 2012

IN SOLIDARITY WITH YANG YOON-MO: CRY FOR THE FUTURE GENERATIONS


Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is now on his 25th day of hunger striking while inside prison on Jeju Island. He is back in jail for interrupting Navy construction vehicles.

Last summer Yang, while in jail for laying under a cement truck, nearly died as his 71 day hunger strike only ended when Jeju Island Bishop Kang convinced him to stop.

Just before leaving Jeju , Mary Beth got to meet with Yang at Jeju City prison where he awaits his latest trial. He restarted his hunger strike upon entering and vows to continue as long as necessary.

Mary Beth wrote down his words:

If Gureombi (the sacred rocky coastline) lives, I live. If Gureombi dies, I die. Do not cry for me. Cry for the future generations who may not be able to feel the beauty of Gureombi. Gureombi is the medium to connect myself and the sky. The self, the sky, Gureombi have become one. This commitment is a call from God.

I've decided to join his hunger strike for one week beginning Sunday. I would hope others will decide to fast for a meal, a day, or more during this time when Yang is putting his life on the line to stop the destruction done by this Navy base plan. Please let me know if you join the fast and I will collect the names and send them on to South Korea so Yang can see that others care about him, the nature around Gangjeong village, and peace.

I'd also urge you to call the nearest South Korean embassy/consulate and tell them to stop the Navy base and to release Yang from prison.

If you are on Facebook you can get regular updates from the villagers. Just click here

See this video from last year where Yang talks about Gureombi and the corporate neo-liberalism that is now controlling the world. You will be deeply moved by his words and his action.



Write to:

Mr. Lee Myung-Bak
President
1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu
Seoul, 110-820
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Fax: +82 2 770 4751
E-mail: foreign@president.go.kr or president@cwd.go.kr or president@president.go.kr

Mr. Kim Kwan-Jin
Minister, Ministry of National Defense
No. 1, Yongsan-dong 3-ga
Yongsan-gu, Seoul
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Tel: +82 2 748 1111
Fax: +82 2 748 6895
E-mail: cyber@mnd.go.kr

Mr. Woo Keun-Min
Governor
The government of Jeju-do
312-1, Yeon-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Fax: +82 64 710 3009
E-mail: jejumaster@jeju.go.kr

Please save the Gangejong, the Life and Peace village.

Friday, March 02, 2012

PRIVATIZED SPYING



A report discussing the recent Wikileaks revelations.

WHAT ABOUT IRAN?



The magician weaving his web of deceit to a cheering bunch of Democrats who say they are against war until their own party is in power. Then they turn their heads away and even turn against the real peaceniks.

Next they'll start chanting USA, USA.

Also note his mention of the "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific which is all about militarily "containing" China - not a constructive peaceful thing at all. But to an adoring audience most everything is swallowed.

MARCH 20 RALLY IN AUGUSTA



(Click on graphic for better view)

THE FILM SHOWN TO THE POLICE



I made this film to say thanks and sorry, and to keep going on in 2012.

- Emily Wang

I LOVE THIS


The creativity of the people in Gangjeong village is more than impressive. With each day they have to figure how to get around the road blocks set up in their way by the Navy, Samsung (lead construction contractor), and the police.

Here is a wonderful post today from Emily Wang who is in the village.

Today (2012/3/2) while being blocked by police men, peace activists were having small festival because it's really boring to be blocked for no reason.

Five buses of police are having long stay in the small fishing port of Gangjeong. Their purpose is absolutely blocking any kayak to enter the sea, but none of them can explain why they block the kayak. The police just repeatedly tell us that "because it's dangerous to drive kayak". Actually the kayak activities have been continued for so long time, and no accidents at all, but anyway, for helping the work of the barge ship which has invaded Gangjeong sea yesterday and is now dredging the sea bed here, the kayak activities suddenly become a really dangerous and serious crime in Korea. The serious crime even demand 5 buses of police men to prevent it.

Tonight, we had Gangjeong film festival for the police men who have been blocking us in the Gangjeong fishing port from going to the sea with kayak for a few days.
I showed the short film I made and I talked to them with broken Korean.

When we just arrived there, the police men were nervous about our action and pay attention to our kayak but after they got to know we just came there for showing them the movies, many police men were just asked to retreat from our "movie theater" and going back to their original standing police.

Anyway, many of them had watched my film. Although I don't know how many people among them really pay attention to watched my short movie, I prayed and I believed there must be someone who will be influenced by our small action.

Since I have stayed in Gangjeong for quite a while, I can say many people's lives will be changed through this experience. These people include the police, fake police who are just doing military service, workers, visitors.

SO-LONG RED CRABS....SO LONG NATURE



The endangered red crabs on Jeju Island will be covered in cement for the Navy base docks.

Some would call this progress. I'd call it madness - the sickness of mindless militarism. We've got to stop it before it kills us all.

The corporate criminal syndicate called the military industrial complex is not our friend.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

HOME SWEET HOME


I am home at last. Had to drive through an at times blinding snow storm from Boston to Maine but we made it in one piece.

Somehow I mustered up the energy to do my talk last night on drones and U.S. foreign and military policy along with two other speakers in Cambridge. Of course I shared the latest news from Jeju Island. There was a nice turnout of about 50 folks on a cold and raining night. Due to jet lag neither MB nor I had much sleep at her brother's house in Boston. So I am running on fumes now.

The latest from Gangjeong village is that the dredge barge came today and somehow the folks got their kayaks into the water to challenge it. As you can see in the photos above the police had their boats in the water and they put razor wire all around the barge to keep the villagers from climbing on-board the dredge boat.

I've had several emails from around the world (Maine, Hawaii, Japan and New Zealand) expressing interest in going to Gangjeong village to offer support for the people there. My hope is that more will think of making this journey to stand with these brave and noble people.

I've got a busy month ahead of me in March. I am going to Florida for a week with my cousin to watch our favorite baseball team (Orioles) and I will do one talk in Bradenton and two radio interviews while there. On March 20 we will have our Bring Our War $$ Home rally inside the state capital in Augusta. The event will be called Marching Against Fiscal Madness: Fund Human Needs.

Then on March 23-24 there is a peace conference in Stamford, CT and I will be speaking in two workshops. I leave on March 31 for Los Angeles where I will begin my 30-day west coast speaking tour. So alot must be done between now and then.

It's 7:00 pm and I am ready to hit the hay. Tomorrow is another day. Everything else can wait.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ON THE ROCKS

Yesterday morning hundreds of police blocked kayak storage container not allowing villagers to even get the boats out. Isn't this a sign of desperation by the right-wing government that the people are winning the public relations struggle?



Father Moon (in the video) ending the mass along Gurombee rock in Gangjeong village just before our arrests on Feb 26.

I am still in Boston as I speak tonight at an event called Drones: The New Frontier of Warfare and Spying which will be held at the Cambridge Friends Meeting House near Harvard Square at 7:00 pm. It is being organized by United for Justice with Peace.

Natasha Mayers and Mary Beth Sullivan arrived back in Boston late last night and this morning we all had breakfast together to review our remarkable trip. Natasha is determined to organize a group of artists to return to Gangjeong as soon as possible. This morning I heard from fellow Maine Veterans for Peace member Dud Hendrick who is going to Vietnam in April and is considering stopping in Gangjeong before heading home. Yesterday I heard from Koohan Paik in Hawaii who is going to work on getting folks to go to the village as well.

Natasha and I both had several people approach us before leaving Gangjeong village telling us how much they appreciated and were inspired by the presence of Global Network people from around the world. Two such folks told me that when they heard a "conference" was to be held they at first thought it sounded like a boring idea. But they were surprised and happy to see the strong content of our event and most importantly that our members (of all ages) were willing to kayak to Gurombee rock, crawl under razor wire, go to jail, and more. It makes me very proud of our organization.

I've been getting quite a few messages in response to my latest blog (and email) post about the trip. It is clear that the concern about Jeju Island is growing worldwide. We've got to keep spreading the word and helping folks find ways to offer support.

The very best source of information anymore turns out to be on Facebook. Frequent posts of videos, photos, and updates are to be found there but you do have to be on Facebook to access them. Find it here

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

KINKS BREAK






Still sitting in JFK airport in NYC - half asleep and worn out.

Taking a Kinks break and making up for not posting a Sunday Song this past weekend.

INTERNATIONAL PEACE ACTIVISTS NEEDED IN GANGJEONG VILLAGE IMMEDIATELY

When we got back to Gangjeong village on Feb 27 after the news conference we learned that the police were blocking villagers from using their kayaksGlobal Network chairperson Dave Webb (UK) reading the letter to Governor Woo from Global Network leadersFeb 27 news conference in Jeju City. Mayor Kang is speakingIn Jeju City for news conference on Feb 27 demanding Governor Woo protect the Gangjeong villagers and the environment
Gathering on the rocky coast on Feb 26. Got there by kayak and eventually 16 of us arrested for crawling under razor wire to protest the Navy's destruction plans


It was difficult for all of us to leave Gangjeong village. My last day in the village was filled with horror as the police surrounded the villagers and their kayaks and would not allow them to be put in the water. Four villagers were arrested and a daylong back and forth struggle took place where villagers and supporters would not give up their attempts to pull a kayak free and quickly put them in the water trying to head toward the embattled rocky coastline that is now virtually sealed off with razor wire.

Several people were hurt, as the police would swarm over any attempt to remove a kayak. Catholic Father Moon was knocked to the bottom of one scrum along with another revered villager who got his hand cut up. A Frenchman named Benji, who has been in the village for months, was knocked down and repeatedly pounced on by the police. I saw the police push one man off a ramp who was filming the scene.

Natasha Mayers (Maine artist) and Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi were able to get one kayak into the water. Angie Zelter put on a life vest and jumped into the cold water and swam to the rocky coastline. Benji jumped in with half of a wet suit on to make sure she didn't drown.

At one point I was asked to help create a diversion by going into the middle of where the police were surrounding the kayaks and attempt to pull a kayak out while others took kayaks from a nearby boat house. This worked and I was exhausted after trying to pull a kayak free from the grips of the police for at least 10-15 minutes during my diversionary attempt.

Earlier in the day yesterday about 30 of the villagers and remaining international supporters made the one-hour trip to Jeju City to hold a news conference demanding that the weak-kneed Governor Woo stand up to the Navy and protect the 450-year old village from destruction by the Navy. A large number of media covered the news conference and then we moved across the street to the governor's office building but they locked us out.

I've never seen such a thing where taxpaying citizens were locked out of their own government building - especially with the large media throng accompanying them. After much Korean-style yelling and demanding they finally opened the door and allowed Mayor Kang, Dave Webb (UK), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), me, and a translator to go up and deliver our letter to the governor's office.

All day long I couldn't get out of my head the thought that South Korea is absolutely a police state. I think it is a sign of where we in the U.S. are quickly heading. The South Korean people have been dealing with this reality for many years but we in the U.S. are hardly prepared for what this tastes like.

I've just arrived at JFK airport in New York City after a 13-hour flight from Seoul. When I checked the Facebook page called No Navy Base on Jeju! I saw a tweet from Father Moon saying, "February 28 Gangjeong port blockade! Today, worse! They surrounded the kayak storage container. Not even allowed to enter the sea, blocking fiercely! SWAT team has been deployed, who was mobilized at that time of Yongsan eviction crack down in 2009 [in Seoul]."

The Navy has been bringing police in from Seoul by the hundreds at a time. They have no allegiance to Jeju Island and are conscripts doing their two-years of service.

So in the last two days about 30 people have been arrested for trying to protect the sacred coast of Gangjeong village. The villagers tell us that every day is like this - an endless struggle just to be able to stand on their own shoreline or now even have access to the water with a kayak!

People keep asking what they can do to help. They should continue to call the South Korean embassy/consulate nearest to you. But most importantly more international delegations are urgently needed in the village. When the international presence is strong the police have to back off some of their more aggressive treatment of the villagers.

I can't urge strongly enough for activists around the world to discuss sending 2-3 folks from your community to Jeju for 7-10 days. We can help you make the necessary contacts there. Please discuss this great need in your local community. I can promise you it will be an experience that you will never forget. The villagers are worn out and would be thrilled if you could bring them this kind of support.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SLEEPLESS IN PROTEST CENTRAL



Great video montage from last few days on Jeju Island. Please share the link to this with folks in your community.

We are doing a news conference today in Jeju City about the large number of arrests yesterday. No time for rest around here. We had a meeting until 2:00 am last night.

Angie Zelter from the UK is going to stay here for a month after the rest of us leave which is good news. She is an experienced and determined woman. More folks are needed here to support the beleaguered villagers. Please consider sending a delegation from your community to Gangjeong village ASAP.

Consider it an activist vacation that you will never forget.

BUSTED ON JEJU ISLAND

Ten international activists and six Korean activists were arrested today after crawling under the razor wire at the Navy base on Jeju Island. Seven Global Network members were among those arrested including Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, Dave Webb, Natasha Mayers, Agneta Norberg, Gun-Brit Makitalo, and Dennis Apel.

More than 70 activists used kayaks to get onto the rocky coast where they held a Catholic mass, sang songs, ate food, made speeches, and then moved under the the wire fence to enter the base destruction area.

Five of those arrested were moved to Dongbu police station in Jeju City. Today's candlelight vigil was held in front of Seogwipo police station where the other 11 were being held. The police arrested 20 more people during the vigil at the police station claiming it was an illegal protest.

After some hassles by the authorities many of the activists were released from jail by about 11:00 pm.