I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jeju: Uprooting Trees - Uprooting Lives (reflection from Larry Kerschner)

Tangerine Harvest

Currently there is the tangerine harvest occurring on Jeju Island. Everywhere you look there are trees filled with sweet orange fruit. Much of the trees are in very large greenhouses. In the past few days the base contractors haven systematically tearing down greenhouses adjacent to the base. Some of the trees have already been cut. This destruction puts me in mind of the Israelis uprooting ancient olive groves in order to build their illegal settlements on Palestinian land. When I was in Korea in 2006 it was to witness the U.S. Military throwing rice farmers off their land in Pyongteck in order to triple the size of an American base. The same base had previously been doubled in size in 1953 by the U.S. Military throwing many rice farmers off their land at that time. Americans seem good at building death camps where life used to flourish.

"Three days ago this field was covered by greenhouses." (photo, Larry Kerschner)
It appears that the women of Jeju won't take lip from anyone. I have seen quite diminutive women getting right in the face of much larger police officers and scream about what had upset them. There is a nun currently serving five months for getting too uppity with the police. Jeju has traditionally had a matriarchal culture and it shows.

We spent some time with Sasha Davis who is a researcher studying the base opposition movements in many places around the world. He says the places where military bases have been defeated or significantly slowed there have been two occurrences. He says it requires a group of people who have been committed to stopping the base and have spent a lot of time talking with and educating the people. The other thing needed is some sort of tragic occurrence (such as the accidental bombing death of a worker on Vieques base in Puerto Rico) or significant change in the political climate. It turns out thar Gangjeong Village was actually the third site choice for the base. The local people in the other two villages which had much better harbors got organized and stopped the base before it got started. When it came to Gangjeong Village the government bribed some people and held a semi-secret meeting attended by only about 80 people of the 5000. who live here and the base was agreed to by a voice vote with no record of who actually voted. The base was started before most of the people here knew anything about it.

Larry Kerschner

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