Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Statement from Press Conference November 21, 2006

Statement of Peace and Solidarity by U.S. Delegation

We are a U.S. delegation of 18 people including students, journalists, and peace activists and members of Working Families Party, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace. We came here to Korea to investigate the impact of the U.S. military base expansion on the villagers of Daechuri and Doduri.

On Monday, November 20, we traveled by bus to the village of Daechuri, a farming town adjacent to Camp Humphreys, the U.S. military base in Pyongtaek City. For over three years, the villagers have been resisting the U.S. plans to expand the base by taking over the villagers’ lands. In defending their land, their homes, and school, they have been the victims of brutal police violence and repression. Our delegation was met by over 200 police in riot gear at the checkpoint established since the forced withdrawal of villagers from their homes. Residents can only enter and exit their villages through these military checkpoints by showing their IDs. Visitors are often prohibited from entering the village because the South Korean government wants to prevent information about what is happening from spreading throughout the country and world.

The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea recently declared the military checkpoints to be illegal and in violation of the human rights of the villagers of Doduri and Daechuri. We call on the people of Korea and the international community to demand the South Korean government respect the recommendations put forth by the Commission and lift the military checkpoints.

We call on the international community to provide ongoing support to the villagers in Daechuri and Doduri through financial, moral and spiritual support. We ask allies of peace and justice to visit Pyongtaek.

Most importantly, we call for an end to the expansion of the U.S. military base Camp Humphreys. The Pyongtaek farmers have been living on these lands for three generations and deserve to stay there. The expansion of the base will in no way enhance the security of the people of the United States or South Korea. On the contrary, at a time when there needs to be a de-escalation in tensions with North Korea, expanding this base is a provocation that will only further fuel the militarization in the region.

We call on the new U.S. Congress to hold investigations into the U.S. military realignment in Korea as outlined in the 2003 Global Posture Review. This realignment, including the authorization of $11 billion for military expansion in South Korea, moves the U.S. military from a defensive to an offensive position and poses a dangerous escalation of tensions. The new Congress should halt the military expansion and reposition U.S. policy to promote peaceful relations with our Asian Pacific neighbors.

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