Please read the following letter (also attached) from Fr. Bill Bichsel, who will be travelling with a peace delegation to Jeju Island in just a few days. The people of Jeju have engaged in a long and faithful struggle to stop construction of the naval base that threatens not only their Island of Peace, but peace and security for the region and beyond. The struggle for Jeju is part of a greater struggle for a nonviolent, just and sustainable world. May we all engage this struggle in our own communities as we are able.
Letter to Korean Pilgrims
A Peace Delegation of nine people and myself are traveling November 9th to the 20th to the So. Korean island of Jeju. There we will join in the resistance to the construction of a naval base that will service US vessels of war. The resistance comes from villagers of Jeju Island along with religious and lay-people from South Korea. They have been at this for seven years along with Bishop Peter Kang of the Jeju Diocese who has been an inspiration for the ongoing resistance. He has invited people of all faith traditions to join him in the non – violent opposition to the naval base. He initiated the celebration of the Eucharist on the road opposite to one of the entrance gates to the construction site.
Over ten years ago the Island was designated, by The United Nations, as an international Island of Peace. Now it is being converted from a place of Peace and healing to a base of violence and endless war. The people of Jeju and South Korea do not want this. They have suffered enough from war and occupation.
Jeju Island is 350 miles from China, the new enemy which the US war machine needs to continue fostering endless wars. The Jeju naval base will be another of the over 900 military bases around the globe to preserve U.S. domination of the world economy.
Last year Gilberto Perez, a Buddhist Monk, and myself travelled to Jeju Island to be in solidarity with the people doing resistance. The day to day faithful resistance, by the villagers and the Korean priests and nuns was the most inspiring sign of hope that we had ever experienced from a faith community.
Our peace delegation will support the daily blocking of the gates to the construction site. Besides that we will also join in the lively song and dance that brings joy and solidarity at the end of each day.
Our meals will be eaten each day in a communal kitchen. The delegation will be open to experience the hope and strength that communal resistance brings.
Our trip to Jeju Island is in keeping with our work with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action which focuses on the abolition of Nuclear weapons and the Trident Submarine. The base will be port for U.S. vessels with nuclear weapon capability. Besides the possibility of servicing Trident Submarines, the base will accommodate the Aegis Destroyer with its missile defense system.
Though the naval base may be completed, the faithful day by day resistance over the years has created a deep pool of grace from which people of peace can draw nourishment and strength to continue the work of peace and resistance to the works of war.
William “Bix” Bichsel, SJ
Tacoma Catholic Worker
Tacoma, Washington, USA