Events in South Korea are putting U.S. and international environmental groups into coalition with antiwar groups, and in rare opposition to one of the most environmentally destructive forces on earth: the military industrial complex.
Normally, this doesn't happen. Typically, civil liberties groups oppose the detention and torture and assassination that come with military spending, but not the spending and not the wars. Typically, anti-poverty and pro-education groups lament the supposed lack of funding, but avoid all mention of our dumping 57% of federal discretionary funds into war preparation and war. Typically, for environmental groups, our top consumer of oil, producer of superfund sites, and poisoner of the earth is off-limits. We oppose pollution, but not pollution in the cause of killing people more quickly.
Jeju Island, South Korea, is changing this. A coordinated
international campaign is trying to save this beautiful island from
destruction. The World Conservation Congress 2012 is being held on Jeju
Island -- while just four miles away, in the island's Gangjeong
Village, construction is beginning on a massive new naval base to be
used by the United States. Dredging of the seabed and coral has already
begun. 94% of the residents of Gangjeong Village have voted against
construction of the base.
The extraordinary biological diversity, unique volcanic topography, and the culture of Jeju Island attract many tourists. The Sea of Gangjeong is a national cultural treasure adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins remain in Korea, and they live here -- one of many species threatened by base construction. The damage will be devastating.
If the base is constructed, it will host nuclear-powered submarines
and aircraft carriers, as well as Aegis missile-carrying warships. U.S.
taxpayers will pay the cost of the Obama administration "pivot" into the
Asia-Pacific, while Jeju Islanders pay with a damaged home. Ultimately,
the cost to the earth and the risk of war will belong to all of us.
Villagers have been arrested during nonviolent protests. Police and construction workers have assaulted elderly members of the community, who represent a large portion of the activists. Raising our voices in solidarity is the least we can do. But Samsung, the primary contractor for base construction, is sponsoring the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which opened pretending all was well. That pretense is crumbling.
From afar, we are flooding the WCC and Samsung with emails. You can help" Let them know we aren't fooled. Demand that Samsung halt construction and the WCC oppose the base.
On location, activists have made every single participant in the World Conservation Congress aware of the destruction underway on the island where the WCC is meeting. And a resolution is being introduced by 34 organizations from around the world calling for a halt to the military base construction.
Please take the time to read this resolution, and check out the list of signers. This is how the military industrial complex will eventually do itself in.World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village
UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of
Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal
area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock
freshwater tide pools ("Gureombi"), endangered soft coral reefs,
freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and
nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and
Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding
marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;
NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;
NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;
NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;
UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least 16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;
THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;
NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;
ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;