Friday, November 17, 2006

November Delegation to South Korea

Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin Leading Delegation to South Korea; U.S. Activists Join South Koreans to Protest U.S. Military Base Expansion and U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

NEW YORK, Nov. 16 (AScribe Newswire) -- American peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin are leading a delegation of U.S. peace and social justice activists to South Korea to oppose the expansion of Camp Humphrey, the US military base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea and to protest the proposed Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

The delegation of 18, who will be in Korea from November 20 to November 24, includes members of Working Families Party, Veterans for Peace, Service Employees International Union, CodePink, Global Exchange, and Gold Star Families for Peace. This will be the first trip to Korea for Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, and Benjamin, founder of Global Exchange and CodePink.

They will meet with elderly Korean farmers of Pyongtaek, whose farmland and homes were violently seized by the Korean military to accommodate the expansion of the U.S. military base. For over two years, Korean farmers have exhausted every legal channel and resisted relocation, holding candlelight vigils for 800 nights.

"The U.S. government spends $9 billion dollars a month on overseas military operations," said Cindy Sheehan, "We are traveling to Korea to witness first-hand how U.S. tax dollars are being spent to destroy Korean farm lands, homes, schools and lives."

According to Kisuk Yom, head of the Korean-American coalition leading the U.S. delegation, "There is no democracy for elderly villagers whose farmlands were stolen. The South Korean public, too, has been silenced, yet they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of a future military conflict."

On Nov. 22, the delegation will join the nationwide mobilization against the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. One million Koreans are expected to take to the streets in Seoul. "The proposed FTA will dramatically expand the failed model of NAFTA," says Christine Ahn, policy analyst with the Korea Policy Institute. "We will let the Korean people know what NAFTA has meant for working Americans: factories shutting down and farms falling into foreclosure."

Korean Americans against War and Neoliberalism, (KAWAN), a coalition of U.S.-based Korean organizations working to stop the passage of the FTA and the expansion of the U.S. military base, is the sponsor and organizer of the trip. "We hope this delegation will return to the U.S. to tell the American people about the true human cost of the U.S. military expansion in Korea," said Hyukkyo Suh, Executive Director of National Association of Korean Americans. "Korea is a democratic and sovereign nation, and the Korean people want -- as they deserve -- to make decisions that will affect their lives for years to come."

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CONTACTS: Young Choe, 347-885-9226

Sonny Le, 510-919-0790

Christine Ahn, 310-482-9333 or 011-82-10-5846-8020 (in Korea, Nov 20-24)

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