US-South Korea, stop the construction of naval base in Jeju island!
Kilusang Mayo Uno labor center joins the people of Gangjeong village and Jeju island in South Korea in demanding that the US and South Korean governments stop the construction of a naval base in Jeju.
The South Korean government promised to the US that it will complete the expensive national project reported to be worth $920 million. It has also mobilized the court and the police to violently impose its plan on the workers and people. The naval base will host 20 warships and will eventually accommodate US troops. The project started in 2007, but faced strong resistance from the people. It commenced early this year.
According to the South Korean government, the base is being constructed to ensure national security as it is supposed to safeguard shipping lanes in the south, which are vital for trade. The base will also strengthen the government’s defense in case a possible dispute with China erupts.
The base, however, will not strengthen South Korea’s national security but will expose the South Korean workers and people to the dangers of armed conflict between the US and China. The controversial base is facing China and setting it up in Jeju is strategic to US defense interests in the Northeast Asian region. The US says it will not use the base for defense purposes since it already has a military base in Okinawa, Japan to cover the region. The Japanese workers and people’s resistance to US military bases, however, is also growing stronger.
The US government has been watchful of China’s growing power and has maintained military alliances not only with South Korea but other countries surrounding China like India.
It has also geared up for a possible fight by conducting joint military exercises with and pursuing the establishment of military bases in the Philippines and other countries.
We salute the people of Jeju island for speaking clearly on the issue. Their sacrifices brought them gains and strengthened their resolve. In a referendum, they unanimously voted against the construction of the naval base. They fought and succeeded in impeaching local officials who support the base. The construction was suspended last June when the protesters blocked the entry of trucks on the site with their own bodies. The workers and people continue to struggle amidst violent dispersals, mass arrests, and threats that they will be made to pay millions of dollars in damages for delaying the construction.
The violent response of the South Korean government to the protest actions displays the brutal nature of the project’s imperialist mastermind and its local collaborators. The US and South Korean governments were infuriated with the delay and carried out a crackdown against the protesters.
The farmers and fishermen of Jeju island are joined by peace and environment activists, church leaders and progressive intellectuals. They vow to protect the land, preserve the people’s culture and environment, and defend the workers and people from the threat of wars.
We call on the workers and peoples of all countries to support the fight of the workers and people of Gangjeong village and Jeju island. Their fight is linked with our struggles against the US’s continuing wars of aggression. #
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