(Honolulu). Delegates from Hawai‘i attending the World Conservation Congress (WCC), organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in Jeju, Republic of Korea 6-15 September 2012 are urged to be aware of the environmental, indigenous and human rights violations occurring in neighboring villages on Jeju, and to stand in solidarity.
We acknowledge the good work that many from within our Hawai‘i delegation are engaged in to protect our ‘āina, unique flora, exquisite creatures, and deep culture of Hawai‘i nei. We mahalo them for sharing the best of Hawai‘i with others, and for learning what they can from others for the mutual benefit of all our sacred places.
However, not all environmental activists enjoy the same abilities to protect their sacred lands, including villagers just 4 miles away from the congress headquarters. Home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites and biosphere reserves, Jeju has become a strategic location for increased military presence and corporate interests that threaten 4,000-year-old archaeological sites, a rare and fragile marine ecosystem, the livelihoods of traditional farmers and fishers, and fundamental human rights for the villagers of Gangjeong who have been protesting the development.
The IUCN professes “the integrity and diversity of nature” and that the use of natural resources is “equitable and ecologically sustainable,” yet has remained mum on the nearby environmental assaults. The large military project, proposed for joint use with the U.S. Navy, threatens freshwater springs, magnificent soft coral reefs, and numerous rare and endangered marine species, such as bottle-nosed dolphins, narrow-mouthed toads, red-footed crabs, and freshwater shrimp endemic to Jeju.
The base is expected to accommodate submarines and up to 20 warships, including U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyers, equipped with U.S. anti-ballistic missile and radar systems forever tying Hawai‘i to this missile defense system via the Aegis Ashore test facility at Pacific Missile RangeFacility, Barking Sands, Kaua‘i.
Furthermore, the IUCN has confirmed that Samsung C&T and Hyundai are among sponsors for the 2012 WCC. Samsung is the lead contractor at the base and Hyundai Heavy Industries is working with Lockheed Martin to produce the Aegis Combat System to be deployed on U.S. warships at the Jeju naval base.
In response to acts of resistance to the destruction of ecosystems and traditional practices, the villagers of Gangjeong and their supporters have been met with arrests and physical violence. Their mayor was attacked. Their voices have been silenced, and they’ve been banned from sharing information at the WCC.
We urge our Hawai‘i delegation to act in solidarity with others engaged in struggles to protect, preserve and conserve such places as our Hawai‘i nei. Specifically, we ask you to join in solidarity with the Gangjeong activists against the Naval Base at Jeju. You can do this by supporting the Resolutions by the Emergency Action Committee to Save Jeju Island:
1) Advocate to the IUCN leadership to use its power to shut the Base in Jeju Island;
2) Support a new Environmental Impact Statement without government and military control and censorship; there are IUCN scientists already working on this;
3) Assert to the IUCN leadership your opposition to the Four Rivers Restoration Project that is planned to re-route four wild rivers into straight channels, establish dams, and partially cement the river beds to accommodate corporate use;
4) Organize within the IUCN for an institutional self-examination that questions the interests behind the IUCN leadership and push this entity to truly advocate for nature and social justice;
5) Invite activists from Gangjeong Village into the WCC to speak for themselves on what is going on in their island;
6) Connect with Gangjeong activists, visit the sites of destruction, and experience for yourselves the urgency of the villagers’ demands; and
7) Learn more at http://savejejunow.org.
We members of Women’s Voices Women Speak visualize an economy of peace, an economy that will support our communities in sustainable ways, with an emphasis on providing for basic human needs, health and wellness, solidarity and respect for the land and all peoples.
Mālama ‘Āina, Aloha ‘Āina.
Women’s Voices Women Speak is a group of Hawai‘i women who organize around Kanaka Maoli sovereignty and demilitarization
in Hawai‘i from women's perspectives.
Women for Genuine Security is the U.S.-based partner in the International Women’s Network Against Militarism.
Contact: Terri Keko‘olani 808-227-1621
Eri Oura 808-542-0348 email@example.com