Combatting violence with creative vision

All dolls are replicas of real life persons committed to the struggle in Gangjeong.

Some of them  have met, some I have just heard about. Every time they are brought out people seem to pick out the ones they have been touched and inspired by.

If  you look carful you will recognize some of them from this blog.Combatting violence with creation

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Following in Martin’s footsteps

As my time in Gangjoeng has come to an end  I walk away feeling grateful for having had the opportunity to meet people acting from a place of love, not hatred.

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Having met the ones who would rather go to prison than compromised their moral beliefs.

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Hung out with the SOS team. Frozen kayak rides, stubbornly working as monitors and guardians of the sea, coast line, animal life, corals and sea bed, all deeply affected by the construction.

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Been inspired by all these politicians, leaders, villagers, supporter. Activists in different coats.

And yesterday six people from the National assembly(belonging to the Progressive Democratic Party) came to the same gate. Held a press conference. Talked about not being let in to see the base. Despite having their permits in order.

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Many big and small efforts.

And all these people have at some point reacted and decided to act. Laws and regulations are made by people. Structures are created but can be changed if needed. Patters of state power can be challenges. Do not obey it you feel you shouldn’t. The pink sign below says just that; sometimes it is your obligation to stand by your beliefs and disobey.

And doing it from a place of love instead of hatred is a good start.

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Aegis – Guard of the Guardians Themselves

There are so many issues and causes to care about in the world.

Tigers going extinct, homeless folks, religiously motivated settlers in the West bank. And then there is world politics, armament races and wildly differently opinions, conclusions and analysis aimed at explaining how to keep the citizens of the world safe.

Issues that the villagers of Gangjeong have been forced to care about.

They have filed cases. They have sued. They have chained themselves to cars. They have lobbied and demonstrated. They have been beaten and put in jail. Been black listed and thrown out of convention centers and meetings. Arrested for refusing to leave when demonstrating quietly outside a SAMSUNG(one of the biggest construction companies on the base) owned hotel during a UN/ROK joint conference on disaster and nonproliferation in Jeju. The are still fighting for the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, adjacent to the proposed military port. They have been called trouble makers, communists and North Korea supporters.

Somebody hijacked their democratic process and their votes didn’t count when they said no to the naval base.

They even walked from Jeju up to Seoul in what turned into a 5000 person march. That is how much they care.

In addition, the main tourist bus driving from the airport in Jeju city to nearby Saegepo was re-routed so as not to expose the bus passengers to the demonstrations during the International Union for Conservation of Nature conference in 2011 and the participants were warned not to have any contact with the activists as they were dangerous. What actually happened at that conference is another story but basically the Korean government had, in exchange for a considerable amount of money, struck a deal with the organisation not to allow talks about the environmental consequences of the naval base construction. It became known and an unwelcome but unstoppable arena was created for the Gangjeong activists.

But this is is not a Gangjeong issue, this really does concern you. Wherever you are. And I will tell you why.

2011 the Obama administration announced a military strategic turn around, a whooping 60 percent of US military resources being shifting from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region in what is called the South Asian pivot. A new frontline of defence and the enemy has a new name. The WOM discourse has not completely gone to bed with the Bush camp but Red China is now the scary man of the mouth.

Still wondering why you should care? Well, a new battle field is in the making in one of the most heavily populated area in the world, with the US as a main actor. Regions and nation states are being courted and divided up according to the old cold war logic.

The United States already has 219 bases on foreign soil in the Asia-Pacific; by comparison, China has none. The Jeju base would augment the Aegis-equipped systems in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and the US colony of Guam. The Pentagon has also positioned Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems in Taiwan, Japan (where the United States has some ninety installations, plus about 47,000 troops on Okinawa) and in South Korea, which hosts more than 100 US facilities. Source

Many military analysts are saying it, the US naval and missile defence logic is morphing and sliding into the Asian region.

As far as Gangjeong goes, about 6000+ US/ROK navy personal are moving in if the construction goes as planned. And Aegis is coming with them.

They also bring:

2 submarines

20 large destroyers, equipped with the above mentioned sea-based Aegis ballistic defence system

2 aircraft carriers

What are we really talking about here? Well, there are numerous types of these warships. One type looks like this:

The AEGIS is an integrated combat naval weapons system which uses powerful computers and radars to track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets. Japan already have three of them, as do Spain and Norway. And the US of course who had them first. Looking at the technique behind it, this is basically how it works:

The Aegis Combat System is controlled by an advanced, automatic detect-and-track, multi-function three-dimensional radar (the AN/SPY-1). Known as “the Shield of the Fleet”, the SPY high-powered  radar is able to perform search, tracking, and missile guidance functions simultaneously with a track capacity of well over 100 targets at more than 100 nautical miles (190 km).

The Aegis system communicates with the Standard missiles through a radio frequency (RF) uplink, but still requires the AN/SPG-62 radar for terminal guidance. This means that with proper scheduling of intercepts, a large number of targets can be engaged simultaneously.

In other words, this system is both able to track as well as engage a massive number of targets at the same time. Their radar systems work independently even though they are sometimes referred to as Aegis class cruisers.

Remember yesterdays blog entry. The simulation that was supposed to take place inside the base. Bringing cruise liners into the harbor. Not very likely.

The activists here tell me that submarines that are coming to town are armed with nuclear missiles.

The villagers may know this. Some do. But really. You don’t need to know the tech info. Exactly what kind of Destroyer is coming in or how the Aegis ballistic missile defense (ABMD)was started by President Reagan in the 80s and how it initially was supposed to be use in space.

What it comes down to is this, do we really want another place in the world massively invaded by war ships and missile systems? There are other ways to deal with conflict and fear, like an improved level of communication.

By the way, the blog title refers to the motto written in latin on the emblem. A guard for whom?

Make art Not war

It snowed when I walked down to the gate this morning. It snowed during mass and it snowed during the press conference held about the hurried naval base layout simulation that is said to take place today and tomorrow(with results to be presented on January 30th) and is most likely fake.

This week I have seen very few police and have been told it is because they are taking a national test.

People don’t leave the gate unattended anyway of course.

I wonder where they go to find rest and inspiration. And I wonder about why there is so much art. And very few, if any, scare tactic posters, posters of the consequences of war, war ships coming to kill etc. Instead I find this.

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And a guy who made a flute from a plastic pipe.

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30 000 reasons to say no to the naval base in Jeju

The history of Jeju is violent and bloody.

In a not too distant history more than 30 000 people died on Jeju.

Some estimates say that as many as 80 000 were massacred in what is referred to as the April 3d incident or the Jeju uprising.

Only 3 years before, in 1945, the US used atomic nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the pacific part of WWII. The war in Europe had ended a couple of months before and with that the Japanese occupation of Korea. A new political map of Korea was drawn mainly together with The Soviet Union.

The name, April 3d incident refers to civilians being shot by the police during a demonstration in 1948. It also marks the starting point of a 7 year brutal battle between the South Korean Army and the villagers of Jeju island

The South Korean government, under the direction of the United States, maintained a systematic slaughter of the residents of Jeju Island. The people had preferred a united Korea and refused to participate in the fight over the country’s political system; this nonviolent stand was perceived as a serious threat by the United States and South Korea, and so, the people were attacked and massacred. The rebellion included the mutiny of several hundred members of the South Korean 11th Constabulary Regiment.

Most people died through fighting or execution. The visual artist and Jeju born Gillchun Koh portrays paths to death during the uprising in the “4.3 Peace Museum”.

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Many people also fled to Japan and were unable to return back to Korea for many years.

The trauma of war and conflict is still fresh. It is possible that the announcement of Jeju as an island of peace, coming after an apology from the President helped the reconciliation process.

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It is also possible that building a peace museum for the killed, which include a special place for the 4000 people still missing and not accounted for, makes it a little easier for the  now living relatives and friends. A place of remembrance. A physical place to visit. A site where the names are engraved.

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But still.

For many, the thought of the construction of an American Naval base in their village. With warships and 7000 soldiers. Brings back memories of terror. Many have living relatives deeply traumatized by the war, occupation and the uprising. They know the cost of thinking that approaching and solving conflicts with weapons and violence is very high.

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These are only the 4000 graves of the missing people from the Jeju Uprising. IMG_5513

Activism 101 – the importance of charging the batteries away from the gates

I have lost count of how many priest, ministers, academics, artists and other activists I have met who told me they have been to jail, are on probation, facing trials, have been abused and kicked around, been intimidated and threatened, have letters of complaint from the police and numerous fines to pay for ‘obstruction of business’.

A well know priest told me yesterday that he was concerned about the, often young, activists who live(literally)by the gate and confront the police several times a day. He senses that they are getting worn down and wishes a little rest for them. For both body and mind.

Some of the activists do take time out. And today my post will be short. If I understand things correctly I have been offered to go on a journey to visit an island to meet with a woman who takes photos of mermaids. How could I possibly refuse that?

–Peace out!

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