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Opposing the U.S. War of Invasion Against Iraq and the Korean Government萸 Plan to Send Troops

Seoul, Korea 26 March 2003
Press Release

1. Introduction
2. Update of 25 March 2003, Failure at the Korean National Assembly
3. Chronology of Korean Peace Movement during March

Contact: Ms. Youngmi Yang, International Coordinator (

Source  :  BASE21

1. Introduction

A large number of diverse civil society and social movement organisations have been jointly and nation-widely launching actions and public pressure in opposition to the war of invasion being planned and now underway against Iraq by the governments of the U.S. and the U.K. We, peace movement in Korea, are engaged in daily efforts to stop the war and to prevent the Korean government from sending its troops to Iraq to contribute to the American war-making.

In the course of our actions, we have been extremely disappointed by those persons and governments which have turned to support the Anglo-American war against Iraq deserting their earlier pronouncements about violation of international laws and the United Nations Charter. They justify their turn-around by accepting that the war has started, and in that there is no choice but to support it as it has taken place. We condemn their illogic and lack of principle.

Korean civil society and social movements were disappointed and angered by the betrayal of the President Roh Moo-hyun, who, on March 13, against all the hopes and expectation of the Korean people for a forthright leader, committed to support the U.S. war actions in his telephone conversation with U.S. president George W. Bush.

On serial one-man rally, popular singer Yoon, Do-Hyun

The civil society and social movement organisations in Korea stand as one with all the people throughout the world who are rallying daily to oppose and stop the war. We join them as members of the global citizenry in calling for the immediate stop to the illegal war.

We make our pledge to our fellow peace-seeking people around the world to do our utmost best to prevent and nullify the decision of the Korean government to send Korean troops to join the U.S. military invading Iraq.

Today, we have succeeded in temporarily frustrating the plan of the government to obtain the approval of the National Assembly for its plan to dispatch the troops.

The combined efforts of lobbying the members of the parliament to intervene in the debate to delay the voting, various street protest actions, and conscientious efforts of the members of the parliament with the growing anti-war uproar in the background forced an interim decision of the major political parties in the National Assembly to suspend today뭩 debate and expected voting, and to postpone the debate for a later date.

Some 50 parliamentarians had by the morning today announced their opposition to the troop dispatch and orchestrated a filibuster campaign in the National Assembly intended to drag out the debate session as much as possible.

At the same time, members of the civil society and social movement organisations continued the protest action outside the parliament building and in various major sites in Seoul to denounce the government뭩 plan to send troops.

2. Update of 25 March 2003, Failure at the Korean National Assembly

After weeks of demonstrations and public appeals, peace movement in South Korea draws a tangible success today.

Last week, the new Roh government presented a bill to the National Assembly for sending troops to Iraq in support of the U.S. This was widely veiwed as a result of intense pressure from Washington.

Today was the day that the National Assembly was hurriedly convened to pass the bill. But, after days of intense protests, especially after the overnight protesters trying to storm into the Assembly compound, public debates and aggressive lobbists(?) visiting every office, the number of Assembly Members opposing the bill grew rapidly. Some protesters were attacked and hurt by riot police during the clash.

Protesters threatend the Assembly Members with possible voters reprisal during the next general election, for each pro-war vote. (During the last general election, civil groups campaigned fiercely for and actually brought about significant defeat to many corrupt and undemocratic candidates.)

Later in the day, the two major parties retreated agreed to postpone the deliberation to April 2, a significant defeat for their leadership. This is another incident that may further affect the US-Korea relations in coming months, in addition to last year뭩 upheaval of anti-American sentiment in Korea.

University student unions are calling for a general strike against the war in April. So are two major trade union centres in case the bill is passed. Some middle school pupils decided to come to school with anti-war badge, in rare show of collective action. Protests are expanding in many arenas.

Korean peace activists who are still staying in Iraq as 'human shields' or came back from Iraq have made a huge impact to the public when they told their stories.

Recent polls show that 80 percent or more population is against this war, or the U.S. invasion to Iraq. Netizens launched stormy debates on the net, and wormed the websites of pro-war politicians.

Some media are reporting this case as a "victory of people power".

As various social groups have come out to express their stance against the war, the war stance takes the central stage of the public attention.

Tense reaction is expected here as the Japanese government begins to consider preemptive attack strategy on North Korea in case of its further development of missile capability.

On March 22 Saturday, in 19 cities around the country, several tens of thousands protested against the US invasion of Iraq and the Korean government's decision to sent troops. Thousands held candlelit protest near the US Embassy for several hours until 9 pm. They warned that the next target of Bush's preemptive war could be North Korea.

The same day, 19 student activists succeeded in breaking into a military exercise field in order to block large scale exercise now conducted by the US and Korean forces, risking their lives. All were arrested by Korean police force. Many protests were held in front of several US bases around the country. This is the second time that activists broke into the exercise line since last year. Last year, dozens lied down under, stopped and climbed over running American tanks during the same annual exercise.

Burning Stars and Stripes with the symbol of the National Assembly of Korea a the centre

3. Chronology of Activities

Anti-War Activities during March 22-25 (A briefing on news articles)

-Citizen뭩 Network for Cultural Reform had a press conference on the 25th, 밯e want Peace, not War. We want Cultural Exchange, not Troops Dispatch!!

-Pop singers and medical professionals are also having their own press conferences on the 25th, opposing to the war and Korea뭩 participation.

-Local Autonomy Network announced that the National Assembly members must vote against the dispatch, or the network would campaign, during the General Election next year, against those who agree on the dispatch bill

-Three Korean Iraq Peace Team members, out of total 12 members, are still staying near a water purification facility in Baghdad. There are five members in Jordan, and five have returned to Korea.

-Rohsamo, 뱓he Gathering of Persons Who Love Roh Moo-Hyun, which played a major role during the presidential election campaign last year, adopted, with 82% of its participating members agreement, a statement announcing their opposition on the dispatch.

-The Democratic Labor Party announced a poll result: A public opinion poll during March 22-23 revealed that 75% answered that they are against the war on Iraq. Regarding Korean troops dispatch, 59% answered that they are against Korea뭩 participation in the war.

-In the morning of the 24th, Women members of National Assembly from the Millennium Democratic Party have announced that they oppose to dispatch Korean military to join the U.S.

-Civil organizations protesting against the dispatch started rallying overnight in front of the National Assembly 뼋Voting for dispatch is an act of war-criminals on the 23rd, Civil organizations, opposing to the government뭩 position on the Iraqi war and dispatch, continued their rally and demanded the National Assembly not to pass the dispatch bill.

-밆ispatch to the war on Iraq is immoral Anti-war and anti-dispatch rallies throughout the country on the 22nd, Saturday. In Seoul, seven thousand people had gathered at Gwanghwamoon in Seoul뭩 heart, where candle vigils were initiated last year for the two young students who were killed by an U.S. armored vehicle, for another candlelight rally, this time against anti-war.

A Chronology of Anti-War Activity of Korean Civil Society since February 15, 2003

-February 15, International Action Day against War
Rally at the Marnier Park A Statement announced by Anti-War and Peace Action Korea, 밢pposing the war on Iraq, Korean government뭩 troops dispatch, and U.S.뭩 threat on Korean Peninsula
Solidarity for Women뭩 Liberation launched an everyday-picketing in front of the U.S. Embassy.

-March 1
Three hundred and one persons statement announced in memory of the people뭩 rise on March 1, 1919, against the Japanese occupation. 밯e are opposing U.S.뭩 unilateral hegemonic militarism, and their possible attack on Iraq

-March 13
The President Roh talked with the President Bush on the phone and said he will support the war on Iraq.
Thirty-one members of the National Assembly announced a statement declaring they are against troops dispatch to Iraq.

-March 14
PSPD뭩 statement, 밫he new government with principle and dignity starts out with supporting and participating in the U.S.뭩 immoral war! How could we appeal to the international society to stand against the possible war on Korean Peninsula?

-March 15
PSPD appointed two celebrities as Peace Ambassadors to report miserable scenes from war and to pass on peace messages.

-March 17
PSPD starts one-man relay rally in front on Chongwadae (the president뭩 office), the Peace Ambassadors, NGO activists, professors and the general public participated. The rally moved to the front of the National Assembly upon presentation of troops dispatch bill to the National Assembly.

-March 20, the U.S. started attacking Iraq at around 11.45 A.M (Korean Time)
Anti-War and Peace Action Korea뭩 press conference at 1 P.M
Protesting sit-in and striking continued on the spot
Civil organizations, including KCTU and Korean People's Action against BIT and WTO (KoPA), announced statements criticizing U.S.뭩 attack on Iraq.
Candlelight Rally at Gwanghwamon at 7 P.M.

-March 21
A rally at Gwanghwamoon
Human rights organizations announced a statement, 밪top attacking Iraq! We are opposing to death against troops dispatch. The National Security Council must choose world peace of the peace on Korean Peninsula.

-March 22
Peace rally with Ven. Thich Nhat Han at 2 P.M. at City Hall plaza
United rally of civil society organizations at 4 P.M at Jongmyo Park and march to Gwanghwamoon
Candlelight rally at Gwanghwamoon at 7 P.M.

-March 23
KCTU and People뭩 Network (Minjung Yondae) held an overnight rally
Catholic Priests Group for Justice held an on-street mass
The Conscientious Objectors to military service began fasting protest

-March 24
Anti-War Peace Action Korea held a rally at 11 A.M.
KCTU and FKTU held a united rally at 2 P.M.
Action Korea, KCTU, FKTU, and Pan-Korean Committee on the girls killed by an U.S armored vehicle (PCGV) joined together for a protest rally against troops dispatch
2003 / -0 / 3-
BASE21 News Desk

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