| Petition for the release of Kim Ji-tae|
This is the petition for the release of Kim Ji-tae, the village chief of Daechuri, Pyeongtaek. If you complete it, send it to sukbang [a] gmail.com and post it on every web site you know please.
Dear Chief Justice:
This is a part of the letter written to the then president of the US, by the chief of Suquami, Seattle, who was suggested by the U.S government that they should sell their land and move to the reservation for Indians.
"How on earth do you think you can buy the vital warmth of sky and land? This way of thinking is very strange to us. We can possess neither fresh air nor twinkling water. So how can you buy those things from us? Everywhere on this land is holy to all my people. The bright needles of pines, the sandbanks along the coast, gloomy fog in the forest, and all kinds of singing bugs are sacred with my people's memory and experience."
This letter is being newly read in Korea by the villagers of Daechuri and Doduri in Pyeongtaek, who believe that lands cannot be sold and bought because lands have defined their way of living. They definitely wish to keep their way of living along their land even if they are living in a poor countryside. At the center of the struggle, there is Kim Ji-tae, the village chief of Daechuri. His reply to a staff of the Ministry of National Defense, who ask him how much money he wants for compensation, reminds me the Indian chief's letter.
"Do you want to buy these fields. The price will be unimaginably high (or maybe, it's far lower than you thought). I'll give you a hint. Definitely the total number of grains of rice grown and harvested here must be added into the price. And all of our efforts to grow them must be included, too. Plus, our whole life here, sighs, tears and laughs. The stars which have witnessed our grief and joy, and the wind which has dried our tears up must be a part of the price. If all of these things could be added, I would tell you the total price."
Since the school building was torn down and the barbed wires were installed all over the fields on May fourth, Kim and the villagers had sleepless nights with anger and fear. The government announced that they would do their best to have a conversation with the villages to solve the problem. Kim believed it and reported at the police station even if the villagers worried that he could be arrested. Finally, he was arrested and has been in jail for two months now. Still the government has not held talks with the villagers, instead, they are now planning to demolish the houses in Daechuri and Doduri.
During the Japanese imperial period and later under the rule of the U.S. army, the villagers had been driven out from their land. Now, Korean people believe the present government is more "democratized" than old ones, but the villagers are suffering again from another forced removal. They are sad and angry as the government has not even suggested any legitimate talks, and instead, treat them as greedy farmers who only want to get more money. The release of their chief, Kim is the last hope they have from the government.
Kim is a co-representative of the Pan-S.Korea Solution Committee Against U.S. Base Extension In Pyeongtaek (KCPT) and also a representative of the Paengsung Villagers' Committee. He has never told people to use any kind of violence in their struggle. Instead, he has suggested nonviolent ways to old villagers, saying, "We'd better be beaten rather than beat the police. For what do we give swears to them. They are around the age of our children." His deep faith in peace and nonviolence led people to effective nonviolent disobedience and peaceful actions. For example, people from many walks of life, from kindergarten kids to everyday citizens, gathered their pocket money to raise a fund for farming in Daechuri and Doduri even though they knew farming there would be difficult. Surprisingly, the total amount came to over 100 million won (100 thousand dollars).
Dear Chief Justice,
Keeping him in jail is the same as ignoring the Indian chief's desperate appeal in Seattle 150 years ago. It is also the same as putting the Daechuri, Doduri old villagers into jail. They think of Kim as their first born child. I ask you earnestly to pass a fair judgement. Please be a hope to the villagers. The release of Kim will be the best way for the government to prove their willingness for honest conversation with the villagers, and to protect the villages from being sacrificed to the brutal violence of the state. I ask you to release Kim. Let him take his trial without physical detention, please.
The Petitioner ( name )