| Toward the Peaceful Solution of the Pyungtaek Problem: |
5.18 Declaration on Emergency Situation
--The government must be ready for the totally new negotiation for the relocation
of the US bases!--
May 18th, 2006
26 Years Ago Today When 5.18 Gwang Joo People's Struggle Broke Out!
We got together here with the desperate sense of crisis, as democracy, human rights, and peace were overridden.
We are now in a very serious situation enough to doubt our eyes. The green berets with clubs in their hands were ordered in. There was collision between military forces and civilians. The Ministry of National Defense designated farmers' land without any military facilities as a military security zone, set up the barbed wire arrangements and barracks. It threatened residents and peace lovers by declaring that those who damage the barbed wire arrangements would be punished by the military law.
On the 4th and 5th of May, about 560 members of Pan-S. Korea Solution Committee against US base extension in Pyungtaek (KCPT) got hurt by the police. While 624 people were being arrested by the police, they suffered infringements on human rights such as language abuse, sexual harassment, and the examination of the naked body. They also took members of KCPT to the police station without warrants, and made residents panicked by rummaging the village at midnight.
Although KCPT promised to have a peaceful rally over and over again, it was blockaded by 20,000 policemen on May 14th. They infringed on the freedom of meeting secured by the Constitution. The passages to Daechuri and Dodu-2ri are now controlled by the police. They also issued a summons against leaders of KCPT.
Today, the 26th anniversary of Gwang Joo People's Struggle, it is such a pity to see people hurt in a military forces-civilians clash and to witness bloody suppression by the police and numerous cases of the infringements on human rights. We need to ask if democracy and human rights in Korea are on such a low level and if we should be deprived of our right to subsistence in peace in the name of Korea-US alliance. The abuse of the public power cannot be justified for any reason. We make a strong objection to it.
We make sure that all these serious things of Pyungtaek come from the fact that in secrecy the Korean and US governments discussed and decided upon what is called "strategical flexibility" and the expansion of the US base in Pyungtaek supporting it. Given that the secet decision by a handful of government officials threatens the lives of 70 million people living in the Korean Peninsula, it is unbearable that the government put it into practice unilaterally. The bloody affair of May 4th and 5th is more immediately attributed to the fact that the Ministry of National Defense violated the law by designating residents' land as a military security zone and setting up the barbed wires out there.
We hereby urge the government to withdraw the designation of the land as a military security zone and remove the barbed wire arrangements. We also demand that the government release prisoners involved with the Pyungtaek affair and ensure residents farming in their land without any restraints, and that the government stop land surveying which started on the purpose of the expansion of the US base in Pyungtaek immediately.
The government keeps saying that the extension of the US base in Pyungtaek was agreed upon by Korea-US governments and that it was ratified by Congress. But the logic of the government's insistence does not make sense, for it is certain that the number of the US troops in Korea will be additionally reduced and it turns out that the construction of the US base is impossible to meet the deadline(the year of 2008). We demand that the government reflect on the least possibility of the execution of its plan to expand the US base in Pyungtaek and stop to re-examine it from scratch.
We believe that most of people in this country are willing to see conflicts in Pyungtaek ending up with the peaceful solution through conversation. We understand that the proposal of KCPT to organize a social council corresponds to the national wish to settle down the Pyungtaek affair peacefully. We urge the government not to stick to its initial position but to have an open attitude toward KCPT. We demand that the government require US to revise the previous negotiation regarding the relocation of the US bases in Korea.
We think of how to solve the Pyungtaek affair as an index to the level of the democracy, human rights, peace and sovereign independence of this country. That is why we have been interested in the way things were going on in Pyungtaek and we feel the sense of responsibility to speak out and act in relation with the Pyungtaek affair.
We pay a high tribute to the residents of Daechuri and Doduri who have been struggling with the agony of our times as well as for the right to subsistence. We will also strengthen the social solidarity with them to keep up their right to subsistence and the peace of the Korean Peninsula.
518 demanders for the peaceful solution of the Pyungtaek affair