Above: Jeju Island protest human chain attempted around the base site. Photo by the Jeju Weekly.
I was invited to come to Jeju City today to appear on live radio show for 20 minutes at 6:00 pm. As we were preparing to leave Gangjeong village we looked into the sky as a formation of Navy Blue Angel war planes came screaming over the village. For the next 15 or so minutes they went back and forth directly over Gangjeong doing various stunts. One of the stunts brought the planes very low in an ear splitting maneuver.
The Navy was sending a message to Gangjeong village. The message was loud and clear. “We own you now. Your village will become a war base. There is nothing you can do. We will project power against China from Jeju Island. You’d better get used to the idea.” This is the way the US military empire thinks and the way they treat people who stand in their way.
Just before we went on the air for the radio interview we learned that the Navy is planning to demand that Gangjeong villagers pay $20 million (USD) in fines for disruption of construction operations on the base now nearing completion. Some activists believe that the Ministry of Defense in Seoul is actually controlled by the Samsung corporation which is the lead contractor for the Navy base construction operation. Just as in the US, where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics control our government, the Park administration inside the Blue House in Seoul is actually the pawn of corporate interests.
By demanding this outrageous amount of funds from a small fishing and farming community the South Korean puppet government is saying that democracy does not actually exist anymore. In a true democratic nation people who protest oppressive government policies are not fined and driven into poverty – especially an entire village. What was the crime of Gangjeong? They wanted to protect the environment, sacred Gureombi rock, the offshore endangered soft coral forests, the water, the sea life and more. The villagers wanted to protect their way of life – their 500-year old culture.
I’ve learned that only South Korea and Japan have this kind of punishing policy that obviously smacks of fascism. The government of South Korea is controlled by corporations and Washington. How can they claim in Seoul to be a democracy and then turn around and treat citizens this way? How can the government claim they need a Navy base to defend the people and then attack the people who use non-violent protest to challenge the destruction of their village?
This will have to go to court but the courts are ultimately under the control the the same corrupt corporate state. When the Navy demands that the village must pay $20 million in fines that means every man, woman and child owes that debt. It means they would be naked without any land after the court would take all they owned. This is nothing more than an illegal and immoral attempt to finish off Gangjeong village. Every living and breathing human being on this planet should be outraged at this crime against the human rights of the people in Gangjeong village.
After the US directed April 3 massacre on Jeju Island soon after WW II was over a new program was put into place called the ‘Involvement System’. This meant that anyone who was labeled a communist by the US run puppet government could get no job and would have no future. It also meant that any family member would suffer the same fate. This demand for $20 million by the Navy is an attempt to reinstate this ‘Involvement System’ once again. The only way out for a person is to commit suicide.
I am told that the South Korean regime is using this same punitive program to go after striking auto workers on the mainland and other activists around the nation. The decision has been made to kill democracy in South Korea. We are seeing the same method of operation in Japan today as the right-wing government kills their peaceful constitution against popular will. We see the same system in Okinawa as the people demand US bases there be closed. We see the same system underway inside Ukraine where Washington has installed a puppet government.
For those out there sitting on the fence this is the time to wake up and see the writing on the wall. Democracy is being drowned globally by corporate capitalism. Who will be next?
Take Action: Call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC and demand that they leave Gangjeong village on Jeju Island alone. Call (202) 939-5654.
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