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Crisis at Daechuri - the latest phase of the Korean War

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | opinion/analysis author Friday July 14, 2006 22:56author by Brian Mac Grath - Tara Foundationauthor email momcgrath at eircom dot net Report this post to the editors

Assault upon Korean Farmers by a client state of the US

This article provides some background to the terrible events at Daechuri, and the neighbouring village of Doduri, where the South Korean state is using powers equivalent to the Irish Compulsory Purchase Order to clear the local farmers off their ancestral lands for a proposed expansion of the existing Camp Humphreys military facility, previously a Japanese military base. The farmers have been moved off their lands with extreme brutality, and the village is now surrounded by thousands of troops and police, villagers have been served with eviction notices and the area is enclosed by barbed wire. Protest by letter and e-mail to the South Korean Embassy: 15 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland.
City: Dublin
Phone: + (353 -1) - 660 - 8800/8053, 668 - 2109
Fax: (+353-1) - 660 - 8716.
Updates on the situation can be found on:
Brian Mac Grath.

In South Korea, since March 6th 2006, South Korean military riot police have begun an outright and sustained attack upon the autonomous village of Daechuri. For four years, Daechuri and the nearby community of Doduri have resisted the seizure of their homes and fields for the expansion of a US army base. Inside the local elementary school, elderly residents, local farmers, peace activists and students were holding out against frequent attacks by Korea's crack military police force. Far more intensive international activism and pressure is required if the South Korean Government's brutal activities are to be halted. [1]

The farmers used tractors as roadblocks. People acted as human shields by chaining themselves to the Daechuri village school gates. These events are an example of the outstanding courage of farmers battling for their property and lives. For some time they were able to resist the repeated waves of attacks by hundreds of military riot police. The local residents and peace activists faced beatings and arrest. Inside the school, activists desperately attempted to upload news updates to the outside world and issued pleas for immediate aid. Thanks to the indifference of the international media, their pleas were ignored, and the South Korean Government was able to intensify the attack with renewed savagery. On March 15th, elderly farmers were evicted from their homes to enforce the Government eviction notice known as eminent domain. Several farmers were struck and suffered grievous injuries. [2]

On April 7th, 6000 police and mercenaries launched a massive assault, which lasted from 9 am in the morning until 5 pm in the afternoon. The village was invaded from four separate directions, targeting various zones inside the huge agriculture area, in a tactic to divide and break down protesting groups. The riot police escorted bulldozers, cement trucks and backhoes.

The main objective was the destruction of the irrigation system, whose gates had been opened the day previously for an annual irrigation ceremony. While the mercenaries, wearing civilian clothes, attacked the protestors, fertile soil from the rice fields was cleared out using the mechanical equipment and used to fill the irrigation canals. Cement was then poured in to seal up the canals. These tactics continued throughout the day, despite fierce resistance from the elderly farmers and supporters who were present. Despite the dispersal of the protestors as they attempted to halt an assault proceeding from different directions, two backhoes were halted. The plain-clothes operatives, hired so that the government would not be implicated in their acts of vandalism and criminal violence, attacked first, while the police observed and defended the equipment. Later in the afternoon, the police enthusiastically joined in the attack. One union member was hospitalized with a broken back, another suffered head injuries and lost consciousness, and one villager had his leg broken by the riot police.[3]

Following this incident, on May 4th, 2006, 4000 police and army units attacked Daechuri village outright. The soldiers and police outnumbered the protestors. The local people were driven inside the elementary school by the assault. The attackers engaged in systematic destruction of local property as they proceeded. 150 people went upstairs, but were easily cleared by the police; special units removed the priests and politicians who had occupied the roof. Meanwhile soldiers were occupied in installing barbed wire barriers around the rice fields. Then the elementary school, the very symbol of resistance of Daechuri village, was demolished. [4]

The situation at present is that the village is now surrounded by troops and barbed wire, with the inhabitants sealed off from the outside world. The Korean Ministry of Defense is engaged in pouring more troops into Daechuri itself; residents however remain in their homes, but have been given their eminent domain notices (eviction orders) by the South Korean state.[5] The resistance however is unbroken, and is continuing, with protests planned throughout Korea.[6] It is apparent that the South Korean Government will not succeed in clearing the village of its inhabitants without a great deal of further resistance.

The origin of the situation in Daechuri lies in the Global Posture Review outlined by President Bush on November 11th 2003, calling for restructuring of US bases across the world. [7]

The planned US military facility in Okinawa for instance is simply a part of this process. [8]

In respect of the Korean Peninsula, the South Korean government and the US agreed to centralize the US military infrastructure inside South Korea, with over 101 bases scattered nationwide, including the 2nd division which is deployed close to the Korean Armistice Line and DMZ (Demilitarized Military Zone), therefore enhancing the military capability of the US Military Forces inside Korea. In September 2004, South Korea and the US agreed to merge and eliminate some US military facilities, including the large Yongsan Seoul garrison, relocating them to Pyeongtaek under the so-called Land Partnership Plan (LPP). The order of eminent domain is a form of compulsory purchase order, under which the South Korean State grants itself the right to seize agricultural land for military purposes. The Pyeongtaek US military facilities (including the Daechuri base) are to be extended by 1153 hectares, including the replacement site for the Yongsan (Seoul) base. The city of Pyeongtaek has 360,000 residents, and is located one and a half miles from Seoul. 3734 acres have already been appropriated in the city for US facilities; the US will require another 2851 acres. Pyeongtaek faces China across the Yellow Sea. This city is a geographical stronghold, simultaneously facing both North Korea and China, and potentially able to dominate both by concentrating the Army, Navy and Air force: the Air force base K55, the Army base Camp Humphreys (Daechuri) and the Pyeongtaek Port currently used by South Korean forces. As part of this plan, Camp Humphreys, at Daechuri currently 3,734 acres, is to be greatly expanded in size by 2,851 acres. [9]

The Camp Humphreys facility was originally a Japanese base, established in 1941. It is located next to the city of Anjung-ri and about 5 miles from the city of Pyeongtaek. The local inhabitants were evicted their land by Japanese troops and then utilized as forced labor to construct the base.[10]

Evidence of the long-term US policy of sustaining intense military activity inside Korea itself is visible 50 miles from South KoreaÕs capital city, Seoul. At Maehyang-Ri, US forces were long engaged in using this coastal area for continued aircraft bombing practice; it was the largest US bombing range in Asia. It was created, as at Daechuri, through direct land seizure. It is located next to agricultural land and a bay from which many derive their livelihoods by fishing; these frequent tests were carried out on populated villages. It was observed that Depleted Uranium (DU) ammunition was frequently used in these bombing and strafing runs by aircraft, with napalm also employed. Villagers have been killed and wounded by fire in the past, while thousands of bombs litter the countryside. The exercises have now at last been terminated, through intense struggle by the local inhabitants, but the US military is demanding that South Korea provide yet another firing range. [11]

South Korean farmers have long been known as the most militant of protestors against the World Trade Organisation-mandated liberalization of the world food market. To accelerate this process, which involves vast profits for the US state-subsidized agricultural industry, the US demanded, and gained, access to Koreas agricultural markets, a process accomplished with considerable state violence directed against those whom the international media describes as troublemakers. This will of necessity involve the destruction of South KoreaÕs indigenous agricultural base and its replacement by US agribusiness and affiliates. South Korean producers are, however, fighting back, with plans to diversify South Korean agriculture into the organic sector, and in particular, they have moved to establish a food bank to supply North Korea itself, to aid with relief of the ongoing famine, which is estimated to have killed up to 1-2 million people. [12]

This recent development has the potential to be an important first step in enabling the Korean peninsula to become a totally independent and self-sufficient food-producing region in its own right, and is a move to counter the importation of cheaper rice into South Korea from outside producers. [13]

The battle for Daechuri and Dodori therefore, then takes on a wider significance. It is not merely a battle over the seizure of farmers land for a military base. It is a symbolic battle for the food supply of Korea itself, of the right of the nations farmers to be self-sufficient in the provision of food. This is contrary to the objectives of US global policy; therefore at Daechuri / Doduri, it is being established that the South Korean state has the right, under the eminent domain order, to seize Korean ancestral land for its imperial master. South Korea will have no right to control its own economy or its own food supply, it can not ask the US to leave South Korean territory, and the Daechuri/Doduri facilities can be expanded whenever the US wishes, which will be the case at the proposed Okinawa facility, as the United States moves for overall control over the oil and gas resources of the South China Sea. [14]

The recent land clearances in Daechuri, therefore, are an extension of the battle over land sovereignty in Asia that has intensified since World War II. Land clearances were a central plank of the US "pacification" of Vietnam, which remains the model for the latest plank of counter-insurgency warfare. The Land Partnership Plan is simply the institutionalization of these practices.

The primary objective of the sustained violence against the farmers of Daechuri and Doduri is to facilitate US geopolitical objectives in the Korean peninsula. The secondary objective is to break the will of the farmers of Korea. Central to both is the reinforcement of the partition of Korea, mandated after WWII by the United Nations, and cemented by the near-global conflict of the Korean War (1947-49). To achieve this, the reinforcement of South Korea's position as a client state of the US is vital. This is sustained by the use of the standard device, the alleged threat of an imminent North Korean invasion, a claim that is scarcely credible to those acquainted with the actual state of North KoreaÕs economy and armed forces. Similar claims were made about the Soviet Union at the time of its collapse: that it would attack the United States, as a reflex action resulting from fear of the imminent downfall of its economy; this was known as the wounded bear theory.[15]

North Koreas armed forces look impressive on paper, but are incapable of fighting a modern army. South Korea has one of the most modern and well-equipped armies in the world; and an attack by North Korea upon the South would invite instant and devastating US retaliation.[16] However, the device is useful, and so it will be sustained.

The political activism of Korean farmers has long been a thorn in the side of the global agricultural industry and as such is consistently denounced by the media. After the Korean War, South Korean agriculture was sacrificed to enable industrialization to take place, with land nationalization less thorough and complete than it appeared on the surface.[17] US agribusiness has gradually gained total access to the South Korean agricultural market, with over half of Koreas food imports now coming from the US. The result could be the total disappearance of the small farmers who are the backbone of Korean agriculture.[18] If the farmers of South Korea can be successfully defeated through the subtle warfare of international trade, and the less-subtle warfare of outright land seizure at Daechuri and Doruri, then Korean nationalism will of itself wither and die, as the South Korea industrial economy is increasingly absorbed into that of the US.[19] The destruction of South Korean agriculture is a vital stage in increasing the dependency of the peninsula as a whole upon the United States, given the disastrous condition of North Korean agriculture, as a result of flooding, state mismanagement, and international sanctions imposed by the US.[20]

These measures are logical and necessary objectives from the viewpoint of the US given the strategic location of the Korean peninsula.[21] The paramount objective of the US is to prevent at all costs the unification of the two Koreas. Partition therefore has to be maintained, by all-out war if necessary, as recent events inside Korea demonstrate. The agony of the Korean peninsula highlights the importance of partition for global planners; it acts as a political, military and psychological weapon to be consistently applied against the threat of nationalism. Partition's success in containing the virus of radical nationalism can be observed throughout the history of Korea, one of the old nations, first colonized by Japan, then later partitioned into North and South by the UN, acting as a political instrument of the United States and the Soviet Union.[22] The post-WWII strategy of conquest had its first success in Korea in 1945, rapidly followed by Vietnam in 1954, when both these nations were partitioned followed by two of the most extensive wars in history on their territories, to secure these highly strategic countries and their not insignificant resources. One notable triumph occurred in Indonesia, after a reliable client regime was installed imposing the fascist New Order after the massacre of 1964. Another example was East Timor in 1974, where the indigenous population were cleared from their land by Indonesian forces, acting as contractors for the principal western powers.

The conflict at Daechuri and Doduri now heralds a new phase in the war for control of Asia. The US has now abandoned its previous policy of stabilizing its client Asian states in an unconcealed campaign for control of territory and resources. This heralds a return to the manifest imperialism of the 19th century, which the architects of the Programme for the New American Century (PNAC), the inspiration for the so-called Global Posture Review, openly celebrate.[23]

As a result of this process, the Commonwealth states of Australia and New Zealand have stepped into the vacuum created by the decline in the power and influence of the East Asian nations after the economic collapse of 1997-8. The recent Australian move into East Timor is the latest stage in an expansion of Western imperial power and influence into the entire Asia-Pacific region. The oil and gas of the Timor Sea, the property of the people of East Timor are currently being secured by Australia, acting as regional contractor for the United States. The new Okinawa military base in Japan is being pushed through to assist the United States in its move towards the extensive oil and gas resources of the South China Sea and in the longer term towards China itself. The huge expansion of the Camp Humphrey facility is motivated in part by the same objectives.

Therefore, at Daechuri and Doduri, the United States, acting through its client regime, is acting to reinforce the partition of Korea by military force. In resisting this assault, the heroic inhabitants of Daechuri and Doduri battle for the soul of Korea, and in themselves symbolise the farmers of Asia, against whom some of the worst savagery in history has been directed. Their bitter struggle is a microcosm of the global struggle for land, for food, and for the survival of the ancient nations of the world.



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