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, June 18, 2016

Solidarity Statement from Jeju Island to BIW Protest

Dear Friends in Maine, United States,

Hello from Gangjeong village, Jeju Island, South Korea. Despite our struggle against base construction for nearly nine years, there was a ceremony for the completion of the Jeju navy base construction this February. However, despite the navy base, we will do our best to maintain village community. And we cannot get along with the navy as long as it continues to foster conflicts.

We heard that there is a ceremony for the christening of a recently built Zumwalt destroyer in the Bath Iron Works (BIW), Maine, United States on June 18 and that this destroyer is the most threatening naval ship in history, with a production cost of more than 4 billion USD per ship. According to the Korean media, the U.S. Secretary of Defense said that all three Zumwalt-class destroyers, once being made, would be deployed in the East Asia Sea by the end of this year. It is very worrisome as it would intensify tension in Northeast Asia and threaten peace. We heard that you would carry out protest to the christening ceremony on the Zumwalt destroyer and some of you plan non-violent civil disobedience on June 18.  

Many of you have visited Gangjeong and have made solidarity with us with deep concern for the struggle in opposition to the Jeju navy base project. Thanks to you, we came to know that our fight is not isolated but connected to all the peace movements in the world. Therefore we send deep gratitude, friendship, and solidarity to you all who are to magnificently expressing faith on peace in protest to the christening of the Zumwalt destroyer.  We also resolve that we will endeavor more fully to keep our struggle.

Despite the navy and government manipulation 9 years ago, more than 94% among more than 70% of the electorate of the village strongly opposed the Jeju naval base construction. However, the government ignored villagers’ opinion and enforced base construction destroying democracy, environment and human rights. Further, the government and navy filed a wrongful lawsuit demanding around 3 million USD against the people of Gangjeong and are preparing to evict our community protest site, at the entrance to Gureombi Rock, which is now covered by concrete. The Jeju navy base was built on the destruction of democracy and threatens the peace of northeast Asia. That is why we continuously oppose to it and will do so in the future, too.

The Gangjeong sea with UNESCO-designation and the world’s largest soft coral habitat, a place where the 100 remaining Jeju Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins often came, has changed into a site infested with aegis destroyers and submarines. It is currently only used by military vessels of the South Korean navy. However given that Lisa Franchetti, the ex-commander of US naval forces of South Korea mentioned last August that the US wants to ‘send its ships’ to the ports of South Korea, including the Jeju navy base, it is very worrisome to imagine that the Zumwalt destroyer, the so called most threatening military vessel, might enter the Jeju naval port.  

We think peace can be made through peace not through war. Even though the base was completed and oppression on the opponents to the Jeju navy base has been heavy, we will not stop our efforts to oppose militarism and make Gangjeong a ground for life and peace, on behalf of future generations and the living creatures in the sea. 

We thank for your noble dedication and solidarity.

In peace,
The Anti-navy base committee of Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, Korea


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