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Korean Troops Occupy Village for US Base Expansion

by jepu Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 1:34 PM
savePTfarmers@yahoo.com

For three days, 1,000's of protestors have clashed with police and soldiers in a resistance to a U.S. base expansion. The expansion of Camp Humphreys (K-6) is part of the United States' Global Posture Review, following the agenda of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and implemented by the Bush Administration to consolidate its military hegemony over Northeast Asia.

Korean Troops Occupy...
riot_police_or_ants.gif, image/gif, 240x335

The Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) has designated the village of Daechuri and surrounding areas as a miltary protected zone in its latest attempt to seize land slated to be property of the United States military. In an attempt to control the escalating chaos that ensued when it sent troops and riot police to evict residents and activists, the MND was conducting door to door searches and arresting people on sight. Road blockades of sand bags and police buses have been placed around the village to prevent anyone from entering or exiting. At least 400 people have been injured and 524 arrested since Thursday. The three days of violence has prompted criticism of the police force's conduct during the eviction. Human rights advisors to the National Police Agency described the scene as a "blood bath", and an "embarrassing moment" for the national government.
On May 4th, the MND made its fourth attempt to occupy the villages of Daechuri and Doduri and crush the resistance to U.S. military base expansion. At 5am riot police poured into the village from the adjacent army base. Some 100 protestors attempted to block their advance, but were beaten and pushed towards the school. Around 13,000 riot police, 1,500 hired 'workers' (notorious ex-military strikebreakers) and 2,000 Korean soldiers invaded the village and overran the fields. While the protesters were barricaded inside the school grounds, troops erected some 30 kilometers of triple strand 'Concertina wire' around the rice fields and set up military tents, toilet facilities and sandbag road blocks around the village. The riot police charged the school grounds, forcing protesters into the primary school. Shooting water cannons, throwing stones, and beating people with shields and batons, they swarmed across the lines of defense and into the school. After a massive battle for the first floor, protestors moved to the second floor, sitting with arms linked. Others occupied the roof of the school to prevent helicopters from deploying troops onto the roof. The riot police slowly made their way to the second floor and began removing and arresting the protestors, one by one. Having cleared the primary school, the MND demolished the school and the playground. By nightfall, the primary school, the headquarters for organizing and the symbol of Daechuri's resistance, was a pile of smoldering rubble. The children's playground equipment lay mangled and blackened on the ground and surrounding trees were flattened. Over 400 people were arrested that day and hundreds injured.
On May 5th, several dozen elderly farmers and a handful of supporters gathered in a quiet vigil. Around one-hundred riot police marched through the village to arrest the remaining villagers. Their advance was halted by a few village women and some supporters who stood in front of the riot police shields, refusing to let them pass. After a tense standoff, the police relented. Between 1,000 to 1,500 supporters marched across the fields, over the barbed wire fences and through the police roadblocks into the village. Gathering in the ruins of the primary school, they demonstrated through the village and upon reaching the fields, suddenly charged the barbed wire. Soldiers who were guarding the wire were taken by surprise and overwhelmed. Some people dismantled the fences, others tore apart the military tents and tossed the contents into the muddy fields. Riot police were sent to the scene and began arresting people. A several hour standoff ensued. As night fell, the protesters fled to seek shelter in the woods, abandoned homes, and farm sheds. Police began making door to door searches, and arrested anyone who they found on the streets. A military enforced curfew was declared for Daechuri and the surrounding areas. Anyone leaving their homes was subject to arrest. No one was allowed to enter or leave the village. Outrage at the actions of the police has sparked solidarity rallies in the capitol, Seoul. Over a thousand people demonstrated in solidarity on March 6th. International support is urgently needed.
Besides community displacement, other concerns of base expansion are the detrimental environmental impact of U.S. bases, the violent crimes committed by US troops stationed here, the massive issue of human trafficking and forced prostitution which surrounds the bases, the U.S.'s arrogant and aggressive foreign policy that threatens to derail Korean reunification and destabilize Northeast Asia, the undermining of local economies through Free Trade Agreements, and a variety of other issues of national sovereignty.
Daechuri is only one of many communities jeopardized by upcoming military realignment. Besides the expansion of Osan Airforce base and Camp Humphreys, Korean government and business investors have planned a massive development project that connect the two U.S. bases and supplement the influx of people. Named in various contexts an "International Peace City" and an "International Business City", this relatively unknown project will create even more displacement than the military base expansions. For more information and updates see: www.savePTfarmers.org

Background: Daechuri's Struggle | History of US bases in Korea

photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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barbed wire to block access to the fields

by jepu Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 1:34 PM
savePTfarmers@yahoo.com

barbed wire to block...
barbed_wire.jpg, image/jpeg, 500x333

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clash described as a "blood bath"

by jepu Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 1:34 PM
savePTfarmers@yahoo.com

clash described as a...
injured.jpg, image/jpeg, 500x333

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