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US Base Relocation Evictions Imminent

Posted May. 03, 2006 03:00,   


As the talks between the Defense Ministry and local residents have effectively broken off, Daechu-ri area in the city of Pyeongtaek is on the brink of a crisis.

Military and police jointly held an emergency meeting for related organizations on May 2 to talk about the forceful dismantlement of a branch school in the area. Local residents campaigned against a possible physical intervention of the Defense Ministry and put themselves on emergency alert.

Each of the three parties: the Defense Ministry, local residents, and the Pan-national Committee to Deter the Expansion of U.S. Bases, that has had talks since April 30 declared that talks had broken off.

The Defense Ministry said that it would continue holding a dialogue but confirmed that it would push for following an eviction order before May 7. A large-scale conflict seems unavoidable as local residents and activists have decided to fight.

Major General Park Kyung-seo, the chief of the government`s U.S. base relocation task force, said on May 2, “We have made proposals to local residents including the resumption of talks about compensation for locals, suspension of farming activities, and the suspension of executing the eviction order. But they have not responded. We consider their inaction as unwillingness to engage in a dialogue and cannot help but execute the order by May 7 as we notified.”

He added, “We can no longer let the national project be swayed by outsiders like the Pan-national Committee to Deter the Expansion of U.S. Bases. When executing the eviction order, we will dispatch unarmed engineering soldiers and foot soldiers along with police and government-hired workers.”

The Pan-national Committee to Deter the Expansion of U.S. Bases said, “We urge the Defense Ministry to stop the deceptive dialogue game, withdraw the violent ultimatum, and once again engage in true dialogue. If the ministry forces its way into the branch school and farmlands, we will fight to death.”

Kyung-Hyun Nam Min-Hyuk Park bibulus@donga.com mhpark@donga.com