Category Archives: Veterans For Peace

Ghosts of Jeju: The History Behind The Resistance

https://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2013/10/27/ghosts-jeju-history-behind-resistance-naval-base-koreas-island-peace

Ghosts of Jeju: The history behind the resistance to a naval base on Korea’s island of peace

By Martha Vickery, Korean Quarterly

October 27, 2013

When Maine-based filmmaker Regis Tremblay started digging into the history of the protest against the South Korean government’s construction of a naval base in the tiny village of Gangjeong on scenic Jeju Island, he interviewed Charles Hanley, former Associated Press reporter and co-author of the war crime expose Bridge at No Gun Ri, who told him “you have no idea the magnitude of the issues you are getting into here.”

And actually, Tremblay admitted, “I didn’t. I thought I was going to go to Korea and do a film on just another anti-base protest.”

Tremblay has filmed and produced his own TV film documentaries on a variety of environmental and social issues, including coverage of Maine’s Occupy Movement, and actions against the Tar Sands Pipeline. Covering the human interest side of a demonstration was not new to him.

He heard about the ongoing activities of villagers on Jeju Island from his friend Bruce Gagnon, who heads up the organization Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and thought the issue was worthwhile.

The situation on Jeju Island, however, is far from just another demonstration against a military base, Tremblay soon found out. He did, as Hanley predicted, get much more than he bargained for. The film, The Ghosts of Jeju, is the product of a mind-bending, life-changing year of travel and research, and he is now promoting and touring with it.

The film is making the rounds of peace and justice organizations, particularly through the Veterans for Peace, whose experts are quoted in the film. There will be a screening in St. Paul, sponsored by the local chapter of Veterans for Peace, on November 9, and the filmmaker will go on to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington in the same trip.

The Jeju story takes in the historical oppression of the Jeju people, going back to before the Korean War, and details the military manipulations of the Korean and the U.S. government to position a base between China and Japan. It is also about an ancient and sustainable way of life and irreplaceable natural resources that are being literally dynamited out of existence to make way for U.S. military expansion, aided by Korea.

It has all the elements of a great epic drama —- the threat of environmental devastation, the loss of a traditional way of life, a fight by a small and determined group of ordinary people against huge geopolitical forces, the specter of peaceful non-violent resistance against the military machine —- except that it is all true.

In order to understand the tragedy of Jeju, Tremblay decided that the film must describe the history as well as the current situation of the people there. Like most Americans, he said, he knew little about the U.S.’s long military history in Korea, and the many detrimental effects of that influence on Koreans’ lives.

Fortunately, the Jeju Islanders have documented their modern history well; there is even a museum to help visitors interpret it. The film draws from its archives and other documentation.

With careful attention to detail and chronology, Tremblay lays out the case justifying the Gangjeong villagers’ fervent protest against yet another military oppression of their island, highlighting the role of the anti-base activists, including many Korean Catholic priests and nuns, ordinary Korean people, and activists from many other countries. He also explains the endangered marine life on rare coral reefs now being dredged out of existence, and the villagers’ simple and sustainable lifestyle that will be lost once the base is built.

The result is a persuasive film that is shocking and educating audiences in locations world wide. “American audiences are reacting with disillusionment, anger, and disbelief,” he said. “They cry. It has really been amazing.”

In August, the film was screened in Madison, Wisconsin for the Veterans for Peace conference. “About 60 people crammed into a small room, standing room only, and when it was over, we had to go right into the banquet.” There was so much buzz about it after the screening, and demand by others to see it, that they scheduled a second screening the next day.

Grassroots activists in this country and more than a dozen foreign countries have been spreading the film from one city to the next, Tremblay said. Gagnon took the film to the annual meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space in Sweden this summer. From there, the international members brought the film back to their countries, which began an informal international distribution that is widening the film’s reach. Gagnon also went to Hawaii, the Philippines, and Australia with the film. In addition to the Vets for Peace chapters, the film has been distributed by some Christian activist groups, Quaker organizations, the womens’ activist group Code Pink, and others.

Some volunteers have committed to hosting multiple screenings. Tremblay said one activist in Ireland “has five different screenings scheduled, and one will be held when the Gangjeong mayor Dong Kyun Kang will be visiting there.”

Other more traditional routes of distribution have not been as fruitful. Tremblay said he has entered the film into 17 film festivals, but and it was accepted by only two. So far, he has found no commercial distributor for the film. For the time being, he said, he is powering down these more expensive methods, and concentrating on a person-to-person and group-to-group method. He will also appear this fall at several New England colleges, including Boston University and at an event held by the Korean student organization of Boston College, to which writer/activist Noam Chomsky has been invited.

Tremblay was still in the early stages of learning about Jeju history when he was on the island to film the protests in 2012. He described how he was told by several people how he would not really understand the history until he visited the “April 3 Museum,” which documents a massacre that took the lives of thousands of Jeju Islanders. The massacre occurred starting on that date in 1948, in response to an uprising of the people there, and the oppression and genocide continued in several incidents until 1950. The uprising was then characterized by the government as a Communist plot; it is now seen as simply a peasant rebellion.

The cruelty of that massacre, during which over 30,000 women, children, and elderly people were shot down and villages were burned, is seared into the cultural memory of that place. The leadership of the Korean military by the U.S. military at that time is documented in detail in the museum exhibits.

During his trip to Gangjeong village, he said, the atmosphere was informal and welcoming. He hung out with the activists and the people of the village who are farmers and fishermen. As a former Catholic priest, Tremblay was welcomed by the protesting priests there as one of their own. He was up close and personal with demonstrators, who are students, executives taking a leave of absence from their jobs, foreign activists of every stripe, journalists, elderly people, and many Christian and some Buddhist peace activists.

Certain American celebrity activists and writers have taken up the cause, including Gloria Steinem, writer Noam Chomsky, and film director Oliver Stone. Tremblay was able to interview Stone for the film. He took a lot of video documenting the struggles and brave persistence of the demonstrators, some of whom have been on the site for years. The story was compelling on its own, but he still did not have a clear idea of the agenda behind the present predicament.

“The elders of the village would have me to their homes, or would come out at night and they’d bring makkoli and beer, at 10 or 11 o’clock at night. And I didn’t realize it then —- because I only went to the museum on my way off the island —- that these people were survivors of that massacre. They are in their 70s and 80s now.”

His trip to the artistically-striking April 3rd (Sa-sam or 4-3) Museum, in the company of artist Gil-chun Koh, who created sculptural installations there depicting the dead and dying Jeju people, was illuminating for the filmmaker. “I went in there and started reading the stuff on the walls and watching a couple of the videos they had, and it was a chronological story of what the Americans had done, even what their names were.” The Jeju Islanders’ reality became clearer to him, he said. “I started getting angry, and then started getting very emotional.”

During the flight on the way home, he said “I felt very conflicted,” he said. He suddenly did not know how to tell the story of the protest apart from its historical context, and he knew that integrating the complex history of the place would be difficult to do in the film. He talked to author and journalist Charles Hanley at that time, as well as to Korean history scholar and author Bruce Cumings. “I went down to the National Archives, and found a lot of information, and some horrible pictures of what happened there. They are not even classified any more. And I then

started to realize I had an idea how I was going to tell it.”

The filmmaker also requested information from the museum’s curator through Gil-chun Koh. “The curator ended up sending me eight DVDs of footage and photographs and interviews with survivors of the massacre,” he said. Some of that footage is included in the film.

In addition to the modern history of Jeju Island, the film also delves into the geopolitical importance of that area between China and Japan, where the U.S. could potentially cut off China’s oil shipments in a war. It discusses evidence that the U.S. has decided to dominate space in violation of international law; using the type of missiles carried by the submarines to be docked at the Jeju base.

It also talks about the irony of Jeju Island’s recent designation as an “Island of Peace” by the Korean government, in light of the government’s complete reversal of its pledge to keep Jeju peaceful, negated by the building of a naval installation there.

Bruce Gagnon, who lives nearby in Maine, came in towards the end of the editing. “At that point, it was going to end on a very depressing note, and he said ‘you cannot do that. You have got to leave the audience with some sense of hope and inspiration.’ I knew he was right.”

He ultimately used some photos of a colorful “Grand March for Peace” in Jeju during which supporters walked around the whole island. For music, he ended with an inspiring alleluia chorus from a piece he heard at a concert at the nearby Bowdoin College. “It was amazing how it all came together.”

Tremblay is always asked if the Jeju site can be saved from development as a naval base. The harbor has now been dredged, and the famous landmark Gangjeong Rock has been dynamited to make way for submarine bays. “At this point, my answer is no,” the filmmaker said. “The base is going to be constructed, and the villagers are going to have to move, and they are going to build housing for 8,000 marines, which will envelop the village.”

In discussions after a screening, the filmmaker said, people often ask what they can do. “My response is that with knowledge comes responsibility. And that the least we can do is to amplify the voices of the people of Gangjeong village, and that people can share the film with as many people as they can reach out to. And that is exactly what I see happening now with the film,” he said.

Additionally, the villagers still need support for their efforts to defend their civil rights, Tremblay reflected, and it helps them to know there is support coming from the outside. “They are so beaten down and depressed now, that any support from outside gives them a real boost of energy,” he said.

Looking at the issue more broadly, Tremblay said “If you or I or maybe this film can do anything, it may be to slow down or stop this militarism and the advance of the empire. People get that. That is my real hope. And this film is not going to be one of these one-and-done type feature films, where people see it and forget about it. This thing has taken on a life of its own. It is somehow connecting.”

© 2013 Korean Quarterly

Ghosts of Jeju documentary film

11/09/2013 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm

 

The Ghosts of Jeju – Update

Disc_TemplatesPeople the world over like The Ghosts of Jeju, yet 10 of 13 film festivals have rejected it. Currently, only the Berkeley Film Festival and the Portland, Maine Film Festival have accepted it.

To date, the film has been screened in several states, and over a dozen countries, all with wonderful reviews. Screenings are now being organized in Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Seattle where I will present the film. Other screenings are in the planning stages for Charlottesville, VA, Chicago, and Daytona Beach, Fl.

So, while mainstream outlets have shown no interest in the documentary, peace and justice organizations and veterans groups are spreading it far and wide.

006 Fr. Mun et al main gateThe latest news from Jeju indicates that construction of the base continues at a frantic pace, and construction of a new U.S. Naval Operations Headquarters in Busan is underway. Without fail, the activists and Catholic priests and nuns block the gates seven days a week and where Catholic mass is celebrated daily at 11 am.

Three activists are still serving lengthy jail sentences among them Professor Yang, the noted Korean film critic who was visited by Oliver Stone when he visited Jeju in August.

My plea in The Ghosts of Jeju was that with knowledge comes responsibility, and the least all of us can do is to amplify their voices. In addition to letter-writing, sending donations to Gangjeong Village, and going there in person, one of the best ways is to use The Ghosts of Jeju to tell their story.

003 Tetrapods crane wallThe Ghosts of jeju will not stop the construction of this base which will destroy Gangjeong, a 400 yr old farming and fishing village, but perhaps it is playing a small role in opposing the military advance of the United States and the march towards full-spectrum dominance of the planet.

My Reply to Washington Post Column by Gene Robinson

Robinson argues that America IS exceptional. I begged to differ.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-vladimir-america-is-exceptional/2013/09/12/4b234320-1be2-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html?hpid=z3

America is no more exceptional than any other nation, village or tribe. Exceptionalism and The American Way of Life are the two biggest lies that have corrupted what could have been a grand experiment in democracy and the land of the free.

It is rather obvious that this exceptional nation has killed more people in wars of aggression to control and extract the earth’s resources than any other nation. This exceptional nation has used the most horrific weapons to commit genocide beginning with the Native Americans, the Philippines, dozens of countries in South and Central America, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. America has used napalm, white phosphorous, Agent Orange, depleted Uranium, and the most devastating and indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction of all, the Atomic Bomb. Not once, but twice. And, America has been threatening the world with the use of it again should any nation dare to challenge the imperial advance.

I guess in a way, that makes America exceptional. But look what exceptionalism has done to the American people: the greatest income disparity since 1927; foreclosures; good manufacturing jobs shipped overseas; a neglected infrastructure; a under-funded and lousy school system; college debt crippling graduates; the elimination of social uplift programs; the attacks on Social Security and Medicare; no universal health care; tens of thousands of injured vets without proper care; and trillions of dollars of debt. And oh, the nation with the most incarcerated people on the planet, and Guantanamo.

But there’s more. The Patriot Act, the NDAA, and the spying of the CIA, FBI, and NSA have all but deprived us of our freedoms and classified any who speak out against these evils as terrorists.

Vlaidimir Putin is not without fault. Russia itself has a terrible record of repression. He accomplished two things: he forced America to look in the mirror, and he slam-dunked Obama. Neither what we see in the mirror nor Obama are particularly pretty.

Vladimir Putin Was Right

putinI posted this in the comment section of the NY Times re the OP ED Valdimir Putin penned today. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russia-on-syria.html

Putin was dead on! America is no more “exceptional” than any other nation, tribe, or people. That is one of the biggest myths-lies ever perpetrated on the American people.

It is shameful and ironic that the Peace Prize president couldn’t and didn’t pen this op ed!

Kudos to Vladimir Putin for this Op Ed….America has demonized EVERYONE who has disagreed with her….and America has used that demonization to justify murdering millions of people of color all over the world. Russia certainly has not done that.

America is the only country to have used chemical weapons, napalm, white phosphorous, depleted Uranium, nerve gas, and the Atomic Bomb, not once, but twice.

Putin doesn’t have his own personal “kill list” that he reviews each week in his situation room. Putin isn’t ordering drone strikes that kill innocent men, women, and children. Putin isn’t attacking and destabilizing countries. Putin isn’t ratcheting up an arms race in space. Putin hasn’t shifted 60% of his military might to the Atlantic and Pacific. Putin is not placing a missile defense system on America’s borders. Putin doesn’t have a Guantanamo. Putin isn’t guilty of a rogue NSA and CIA.

Russia is no longer and really never was the enemy. Washington, the military industrial complex, the big banks and the oligarchs who profit from war are the enemy.

Americans need to look in the mirror and turn in disgust from what we see.

Syrian Parliament to U.S. House of Representatives

This should make everyone who favors military intervention in Syria thing again. And for the rest of us who favor diplomacy, it gives us hope.

Syrian Parliament Letter To The US House Of Representatives

An important document being censored by the US press. I got this off the BNP web site.

ScreenHunter_327 Sep. 07 18.04

 

ScreenHunter_328 Sep. 07 18.04

ScreenHunter_329 Sep. 07 18.04

ScreenHunter_330 Sep. 07 18.05

ScreenHunter_331 Sep. 07 18.05

We Like War

As President Obama and the war hawks beat the drums for war, the American people overwhelmingly oppose any military intervention in Syria’s civil war. Right now, Obama is chastising the international community in St. Petersburg Russia claiming that their credibility, not his, is at stake. This is not only outrageous and embarrassing, be despicable from someone who has won the Nobel Peace Prize, from someone who tortures people, persecutes the likes of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, has his own “kill list,” and continues to strike with drones anywhere he pleases.

Obama claims he has irrefutable proof – evidence – that President Asaad used chemical weapons on his people. I say, prove it. Show US all the evidence. Who provided it? Can it be corroborated? Russia submitted a 100 page document to the United Nations proving otherwise. I am no longer willing to accept their proof on faith any more. I do not trust this government. They asked us to just “trust them” when Bush-Cheney and his gang took us to war in Iraq. They lied. The reason was really oil.

Obama and his gang, include the military industrial complex, the big banks and all those who make money from war want us to just “trust them” again. Once again it is abot OIL. I say no more. Never again.

The Ghosts of Jeju proves unequivocally the U.S. plan to dominate the world through full-spectrum dominance – read brute military force. It has never been about spreading democracy and freedom. Never been about championing human rights. Those claims are disgusting and patently false. The government has lied to us for over 200 years.

Only America has committed genocide repeatedly beginning with the Native Americans. Just in my life time, America has used weapons of mass destruction designed to kill large numbers of civilians with the carpet bombing and fire-bombing of Germany. America followed that up with the carpet bombing and napalming of Japan in 1944-45, then carpet bombed and napalmed Korea into oblivion. Remember, it was General Curtis LeMay who directed those bombings who said, “if you kill enough of them they quit fighting.”

America didn’t stop there but carpet bombed, napalmed, and used Agent Orange in Vietnam. America didn’t object when Israel used white phosphorus on the Palestinians. We didn’t complain, but actually aided our ally at the time, Saddam Hussein when he used chemical weapons on the Iranians and his own people. American has single handedly destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan using cluster bombs, white phosphorus, and depleted Uranium causing irreparable damage to the DNA and genetic composition of those innocent people who are suffering from incidence of cancers and birth defects never before seen.

America has been killing innocent civilians, mostly all people of color and indigenous since the early days of this country all in the name of the biggest lie ever to be perpetrated, that of the American Way of Life. The American Way of Life has duped us into believing that consumption based on the evil of capitalism has been good for us.

It is rather obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the middle class is disappearing; all the good jobs have been shipped overseas; our Constitutional rights have been trampled upon; corporations are now “people” with more rights and power than real people; our educational system is in shambles and college creates unbearable debts on students and families; our infrastructure and social programs are sacrificed when 65% of our discretionary spending goes to the war machine…to making war, perpetual war.

The American Way of Life has always and only been about making the “few” more money and all-powerful. The American Way of Life has never been for the poor, people of color, the middle class. It has never been about spreading democracy and freedom around the world. The American Way of Life really means wealth, prosperity, and power for the elite oligarchs, who ironically refused to be subjects of the totalitarian government they rebelled against in 1776.

Freedom and voting rights for women, Blacks, Native Americans, and the working class were never entered the minds of the “founding fathers.” Those rights had to be fought for, and those rights are being systematically reversed right in front of our very eyes today.

If Americans knew and were paying attention to what the people we elect and this government has been doing, we would not only march on Washington, we would burn it down.

America’s number one export product is war…weapons of war which we sell to friend and foe alike, and perpetual war. The only good jobs left in America are in the research, manufacture, and use of the weapons of war.

Perhaps the worst crime of all: America has been making war on the planet. Every war destroys ecosystems that sustain life. War destroys wildlife and poisons water necessary for life. The U.S. military, in addition to killing the planet through war has the largest carbon footprint on the planet. It takes oil, lots and lots of oil to fuel planes, tanks, armored vehicles, drones, and war ships. It takes oil to manufacture and build all of the weapons of war.  America is the worst offender in global warming with no intention of stopping or slowing the process, which by the end of the century will see temperatures rise to a level that life as we know it will be unsustainable.

Rather than spend our money, our creativity, our ability to solve problems on taking care of rebuilding America, relieving human suffering and poverty world-wide, on making peace in the world, in halting climate change, America can only make war.

I believe it is time for Americans to wake up and take this country back. It already may be too late. Hopefully the fall of the Roman Empire will not be a precursor of what awaits the American Empire and the world. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.”

Are you ready for some football?

Enjoy one of America’s real prophets who speaks truth to power, George Carlin on “We Like War.”

 

 

 

 

Mainers Speak Out Against Bombing Syria

I made this video at the protest in Monument Square in downtown Portland, Maine. I only talked to two people who were ambivalent about whether America should do anything in Syria. This is my reply to Portland Press Herald columnist, Bill Nemitz, who made it seem like everyone there backed Obama:

I usually appreciate most of your writings, but this time you are just another in the mainstream media beating the drums of war. I was there yesterday and interviewed on camera far more people than you did, and their stories are quite a bit different. They don’t want perpetual war, they don’t want violence, they are sick and tired of the fear the government and military industrial complex has been using on the American people.

Everyone I interviewed wanted peace and demanded a political solution to these conflicts the world over. Everyone I interviewed was opposed to the U.S. assuming the role of the planet’s sheriff. And just about everyone knew that this was, as it always has been in all of the U.S. conflicts, all about oil and extracting resources with the use of force when the local indigenous people object. The presidents and politicians talk about “national interests” not national defense. America’s national interests are the resources the greedy corporations need to make money. All of those people in Monument Squareknow that endless war-making and an economy based on consumption are not sustainable. And all of those people know that we no longer have a government that represents the people. It has been taken over by corporate interests and the oligarchy.

Finally Bill, an honest look at the world, at least since European exploration and imperialism since the 15th century, demonstrates that the white, exceptionalist Europeans have always seen the world’s resources as theirs to claim, all the while committing genocide of the native peoples whom they considered to be evil, less than human, and savages. When those explorers came to this country, the massacred native Americans and stole their ancestral lands.

The U.S. has engaged in more than 180 conflicts around the world since 1798…all for control of resources that were claimed for national interests. In all of those conflicts spanning two centuries, the U.S. has killed untold MILLIONS of innocent indigenous people by  wholesale massacres and indiscriminate bombing. Everyone I interviewed is outraged at the duplicity of the U.S. in holding anyone accountable for human rights violations and war crimes when this country has committed far worse atrocities over the span of more than 200 years!

The U.S. objecting to the use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction is the most disingenuous lie of all, for in our name, the U.S. has used Agent Orange, napalm, white phosphorous and the most terrifying weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb….not once, but twice.

So, Bill, this time you missed something, right in step with the rest of the corporate-owned media. You missed the untold history of this country, and the evil that continues to be done in our name.

As in the run up to each and every foreign war the U.S. has fought, we have been lied to and frightened into believing that America is at risk, our lives and precious lifestyles will be harmed, and the lie of the great American Way of Life will be exposed.

The endless war on terror and the global imperial advance of the U.S. guarantees perpetual war. Most, if not all, of the people in Monument Square and the millions of Americans and people around the world out protesting this week against another American military intervention know this. And you missed it… the real story.

Here’s the link to his irresponsible bit of reporting, if anyone cares to read it:

http://www.pressherald.com/politics/syrian-images-hang-over-peace-protest_2013-09-01.html

Testimonial From Germany

Website Flier-small

“I saw your film, The Ghosts of Jeju – thank you for this impressive film!
I visited Jeju first in 1994 and I was in Gangjeong in 2010, already before the construction work started, SONG Kang-Ho and CHOI Sung-Hee are  friends.
Your film really connects very well the history starting from the time of colonialism and all the American influences in Korea afterwards, the facts about the Jeju massacre which is important to understand the reactions of Jeju people…..   and your film really is a cry for peace and lesser militarism in this world! Thank you for this film!
A friend proposed to show the film eventually in a cinema in Berlin to the public.
And I will try to write a film critic for a small magazine called “Korea-Info” published for interested church people in Germany.”

In deep solidarity
Gisela – Stuttgart, Germany

We’re Not Goin Away Scotty Walker

Wonderful activism in Madison, Wisconsin. Citizens here have been protesting the administration of Scott Walker for 275 days. We could use this in Maine. Come to think about it, we need more of this everywhere! What an inspiration. Two hundred plus gathered on Friday, August 9, 2013. I’m a the Veterans For Peace National Convention here in Madison.

Enjoy this short video.