Park Sung-Soo has been documenting the daily struggle in Gangjeong Village since the summer of 2011. He was accused of trespassing when he entered the navy base complex to protest the harassment of two young women reporters with sexual remarks by the base security personnel.
The two young women reporters appealed the incident to the Korean Human Rights Committee, but their case was dismissed.
Park Sung-Soo, AKA Dungree, was not able to pay his fine amounting to $1500 U.S. dollars, so he decided to serve out his fine in jail for 28 days. Dungree is resolute in not wanting anyone to pay his fine. He is willing to bear the sufferings he will encounter for the month in prison.
Dungree is a victim of the new government’s strategy to oppress people with fines and to put down the protest against the illegal construction of the base.
Since the beginning of the struggle in Gangjeong Village in 2007 to February 2013, there have been upwards of 700 arrests with 500 indictments. 22 activists have been imprisoned. All have been released with the exception of Prof. Yang Yoon-mo who has been sentenced to 18 months, this being the fourth time he has been jailed. Prof. Yang agreed to end his 52 day old hunger strike on March 24, the third since his protest began.
The average fine against the activists has been approximately $3,000 U.S. dollars, and some have had fines as high as $9,000 U.S. dollars bringing the total amount of fines to $450,000 U.S. dollars. But, that’s not all. The total compensation fee for “damages” is approximately $290,000 U.S. dollars.
All of the activists are willing to go to jail because they cannot afford the fines.
There is no way to sugar coat these gross violations of human rights and the total disregard and disdain for the civil rights of these people who are fighting for self-determination, a transparent and open democratic process, justice, peace, and the survival of their culture, not to mention their livelihoods.
To blame for this most recent displacement of indigenous people, the violation of human rights, the destruction of the environment, the beating of war drums, and the escalation of tensions around the world is the government of the U.S., the U.S. war department, and the military industrial complex.
Meanwhile, the Village is protesting the navy’s military residential housing project which will effectively obliterate this 400 year old village with accommodations for 8,000 military personnel. This base will require maintenance facilities, an airport, radar, fuel tanks, bars, restaurants, shops, and brothels, and probably missile silos.
What is happening on Jeju Island, and in so many other places around the world, are crimes against humanity.
America! Now they are coming for us! Not only is the #1 U.S. export weapons and “security,” but now the corporations are fast at work to get us to pay for their lust for power and profits. They want (Congress will do their bidding) to pay for all of it on the backs of the middle class and the poor.
Every state in this country owes thousands of jobs to the corporations who produce the weapons and supplies of war. Because of this, there is hardly a person in Congress who will oppose their lust for more and more and more. They threaten to close down their factories and move if Congress doesn’t keep increasing the war budget that feeds the military industrial complex.
Just a cursory glance across this land reveals their ugly job-creating lies from coast to coast, and from border to border: tar-sands, Keystone pipeline, the East-West Highway in Maine, the proposed LNG tank in Searsport, Maine, hyrdo-fracking wherever they can find gas. They are stealing our own precious resources like water and selling them for profit.
Meanwhile our states are broke and can no longer maintain critical infrastructure; provide quality education; and protect the social safety net, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
There is only one answer to this suicidal march: more than 60% of the discretionary spending of the U.S. (our taxes) go to the military aka the war department. If one includes veteran’s benefits and NASA, the percentage is much higher. Bush’s wars will cost us more than $4 TRILLION. There are more than 800 U.S. military “bases” in every corner of the globe……supposedly for national security. Read: the interest of the corporations who extract resources and exploit other nations.
The Villagers of Gangjeong along with the Catholic Bishop of Jeju, Bishop Kang, have the answer: “Peace is the way. No Naval Base on the Island of Peace.” It is the moral obligation of every human being to oppose war and work for peace and justice in the world.
For those who are not able to travel to Jeju to support this struggle, you can send donations to www.savejejunow.org to help pay the fines and to support the activists who represent us in this global struggle against the U.S. imperial march towards domination of the world by force.