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Good Friday Struggle on the Island of Peace

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The following article was written by Bellingham, Washington's VFP-111 member Michael Jacobsen following an incident during a protest on Jeju Island near Gangjeong village. As Michael reports, Father Moon Cheong Hyun was severely injured on Good Friday protesting the joint US/ROK construction project of what will likely become one of the largest naval bases of the American Empire, devastating an island that has been designated a Global Biosphere Reserve and known to many as The Island of World Peace. 

Michael had been moved for some time by the courage of the villagers, against overwhelming odds, to halt the devastation to their pristine habitat. When three Veterans Peace Team members Elliot Adams, Mike Hastie, and Tarak Kauff were turned away by military and police authorities in March, he was determined to join the non-violent demonstrators in South Korea, convinced that Veterans For Peace deserved a foothold in this struggle. He arrived in Jeju last week, after a carefully prepared itinerary, and this is his first report.

Gene Marx, Secretary, VFP National Board of Directors Bellingham, WA

It would seem that in the Republic of Korea, as in the ancient Roman Empire, those who challenge the power of the military state may end up with the same fate as Jesus. The modern version of the Roman Empire is now the global United States backed by powerful multinational-corporations and its client states. 

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The internationally known and well respected critic of the Republic of Korea (ROK/South Korea), 71 year old, Catholic Priest, Father Moon Cheong Hyun has become one of the most important victims of the ongoing police brutality of the U.S. backed South Korean government. It was a miracle that Father Moon did not die from a recent fall after being pushed by ROK police. 

Father Moon has been an outspoken critic of the psuedo-democratic ROK. At the time of his fall, Father Moon was in the process of protesting the building of what has been planned to be one of the world's largest naval bases in Gangjeong village in southernmost Jeju Island, South Korea which was designated as the "Island of Peace" by a former administration. 

Because of the controversial Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and South Korea, it is presumed by informed military analysts that this naval base is unnecessary for the welfare of any nation and is intended only to provoke China and thus create a new arms race. Escalating conflict is what the U.S. does best. Not coincidentally, another arms race is exceedingly lucrative to the military-industrial-complex which is motivated only by greed, power and control. For the people of Jeju Island this base is an utter disaster.  

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Father Moon's protest against the naval base on Good Friday (4/6/12) was a non-violent religious ceremony. Gathered together were other Catholic priests and their followers, as well as local, regional and international peace activists. They performed the Mass, "Stations of the Cross", a traditional Catholic ritual. This ceremony involves 14 "Stations" marking the last moments of Jesus' life before his death. This ceremony was adapted so that the 14 Stations were performed during a procession around the razor-wired strewn wall surrounding the Gangjeong village naval base construction (destruction) site. At each Station Father Moon and the other Priests led followers in prayer and meditation related to Jesus' death. The Mass was intended to mirror the struggle on Jeju Island for peace and against the winds of war. 

During the final Station, #14, in a public area, one activist climbed down the huge concrete tetrapods [1] to the water to swim in protest toward the construction (demolition) site, the Gangjeong village's sacred Gureombi. UNESCO and many other organizations have declared this preservation area to be of significant environmental and cultural importance. Gureombi's status was overridden with a stroke of a pen by the influence of the ROK Navy. As the above mentioned activist attempted to enter the water, several police officers aggressively chased him, despite their being on the dangerous and slippery tetrapods. This frightened and angered many of the people attending the Mass, and a few people walked out onto the tetrapods to see what was happening below, including Father Moon. Many called for the police to be reasonable and to be careful that Father Moon could possibly fall. Not heeding the pleas of the people, one young policeman aggressively advanced on Father Moon despite the fact that they were both in an extremely dangerous area. Eye-witnesses said that the police officer swung around and pushed Father Moon. Both of them were put off balance, but only the young police officer was able to regain his balance.

Those present said that what happened next was a terrible and shocking nightmare to watch. Father Moon fell into a huge hole between the tetrapods. As he dropped over 20 feet, his body bounced off the concrete tetrapods below three times before landing in an unmoving heap at the bottom. Horrified wailing screams and sobbing commenced from the traumatized crowd. To those assembled, this tragedy, at the 14th Station, mirrored the tragic death of Jesus. Many viscerally experienced the "Stations of the Cross" as a grim reality. They assumed that elderly Father Moon had hit his head and was dead from the impact.  

This tragedy happened on The Island of Peace to Father Moon, a man who only preaches love and peace - as did Jesus.  

To add to the shock and sadness, the police claim that Father Moon pushed the police officer and that Father Moon is responsible for his own fall. The very fact that the policeman advanced anywhere near elderly Father Moon in this extremely precarious location is cause enough to blame this misguided young policeman for the tragedy.

What might be the message we could take from this incident in which the Divine chose to save Father Moon from death?

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Perhaps, the message is that what is needed is a Resurrection of the Spirit in which all the gentle people of Jeju Island rise-up, and all the good people of mainland South Korea rise-up, and all the peace-loving people from around the world rise-up to stop global militarism and corporate domination. Now is the time to put an end to such insanity that is devoid of any morals or ethics.

Now is the time to gather together and to speak-out. Now is the time for a revolution of the spirit, to hold and demand a strong new vision for humanity - one where the next seven generations of children may enjoy the beauty of The Island of Peace and where global conflicts may be resolved with peaceful and thoughtful minds.  

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The author of this piece is Vietnam Veteran and former Naval Aviator Gene Marx. He currently serves as a member of the Veterans For Peace Membership Committee and was the past Secretary of the VFP National Board of Directors. He lives in (more...)
 

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