Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Day in Daechuri - Update from Delegation November 21st
We are writing to you all from Pyongtaek prison where Kim Ji-Tae, the leader who organized the village people to organize and protest against the U.S. military expansion in Pyongtaek. Cindy Sheehan, Mario Murrillo, and Jamie Kim are in there with him right now as only 3 people were allowed to visit. As they are in there, we ran to a PC Bang (internet cafe) to send you these words of what has happened so far on our trip.
Last night, we took a 2-hour bus ride from Seoul to the village of Daechuri. For over three years now, the villagers of Daechuri and Doduri have been resisting the eviction of their homes, farmland and school for the expansion of the US military base in Pyongtaek City, Camp Humphreys. For the past year, starting on May 4, the South Korean government has sent in over 20,0000 troops to demolish homes, destroy the elementary school, and with physical violence against the elderly farmer villagers. I met a reporter from Stars and Stripes last night who told me that he was there at the crack of dawn and what he witnessed was "like medieval warfare."
Since the farmers struggle, over 1000 people have been injured and over 800 people arrested.
We arrived by bus in the evening. We were greeted by over 200 police in riot gear lining the check point. There were many press there to also greet us. It appeared that they werent going to let us through as they have been denying entry into the village for outsiders. Only residents of Daechuri are allowed access in and out of the checkpoint.
After some delay, after Cindy stepped out and had a discussion with Reverend Moon in front of the press did the police finally let us in. They probably didnt want a huge spectacle, so we were allowed access. We then crossed the second check point and made our way into the village. We got off the bus and were immediately ushered into a huge barn that had turned into the site where the candlelight vigil was held.
The farmers and elders have been holding candlelight vigils in there for over 820 days.
When I walked in to the room, I was incredibly moved to tears. It seemed my tears couldnt stop flowing. Here these people were who I saw on the internet, in videos, and in images circulated by people who had visited Pyongtaek. None of those images could capture what I felt and saw. Here these people were, the most humble people, mostly farmers and elders, sitting there peacefully. I could see the hardship they had endured but also the resolve to keep the land. It was heartbreaking to see and hear what they had endured, but incredible to witness their determination to fight for what is good right.
Posted by downdownfta at 11:10 AM