Feb. 22  2024
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Christian's Photo Column 

Thousands of South Koreans Demonstrated Against War, Occupation and Military Threats - Here and Elsewhere

"Only if all Koreans, who don't like the idea of war - and this is the majority of the South Korean population - will be active, we're able to stop the policy of imperialism and militarism."

Source  :  BASE21

by Christian / Base21 Media Activists

Possibly I was wrong in my first estimation about the South Korean anti-war movement (see article "Will the South Korean government send combat troops to Iraq? Where is the opposition?"/The Latest News), because I think last Saturday we really won a new small victory.

In my opinion it was a really great event - except some (perhaps ignorable, I don't know) nationalist scenes (but also glorify of Palestinian martyrdom isn't nice, not really. Especially when anarchists or other leftists join/support this. Also the slogan "PLO! Israel no!" in Palestine, possibly during the first Intifada it was right... But now, after years of experience with the corrupt and partly very reactionary Palestinian leadership...).

And I think it was good that this demonstration ended peacefully, so nobody could say that we only want to make "violent riot" (and it let us open the way to use it, if necessary...). Let's start from the beginning: Remember April 2 on Yeouido (see our article: "The Battle About the Bill of Dispatching South Korean Troops.../2003.4.5)? In front of National Assembly - just there passed the bill over dispatching 700 "unarmed" troops, mainly from medical and construction units in later occupied Iraq - we'd a huge battle against the bill. After the bill passed, my comrade, an activist in Minju-nodong dang (Democratic Labor Party/DLP) said to me: "Of course we're dismayed at that result, but I'm more dismayed about our weakness, we were no able to avoid the bill." Later, short before she was bloody beaten by the infamous riot cops, very angry she added: "Ok, today we lost the struggle but it's not a real defeat because it shows now for everybody what this government really think about democracy."

Next picture: Seoul, Dae-hak-no, last Saturday. Like all over the world, also in South Korea political groups planned a anti-war demonstration to protest against the occupation if Iraq, the possibility of a violent "solution" of the North Korean nuclear crisis end the end of Israeli war crimes in Palestine ( exactly 3 years before the current bloody conflict - some call it "2nd Intifada" - erupted). Early afternoon, opening rally: Only few hundred people fellowed the "Anti-war concert", given by Choen Ji-in and the You Jung-go Band. I really got upset, because of the little number of participants. But, surprisingly, an hour later more and more people - students, unionists, clerics, some foreigners, members of the migrant workers' union ETU-MB (Equality Trade Union - Migrants' Branch) and even members of the National Coalition of the Poor arrived. Speeches - strongly condemning governments crazy plans to send South Korean combat troops to Iraq, demanding the immediately withdrawal of occupation forces out off Iraq and Palestine - held by popular artists, like Lee Byung-heon, student representatives, political und union activists, like Kwon Yeong-gil (DLP) and Kim Heol-tak (Vice President of KCTU/Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) - were reacted enthusiastic by the audience, now several thousands.

After the opening rally a demonstration, headed to downtown Seoul, started and thousands - my comrade she wrote on the "anti-war" web-site something about 8.000 participators, but other voices said around 10.000 - marched and shouted slogans against the occupation of Iraq, planned dispatching of combat troops and against the war in general.

As I said in the beginning: A REALLY GREAT EVENT! But only if this demonstration was marking the beginning of a strong, large movement against government's plans and the threat of violent "solution" of the current North Korean nuclear crisis. As a comrade from Hanchongryeon said to passengers during the demonstration: "Only if all Koreans, who don't like the idea of war - and this is the majority of the South Korean population - will be active, we're able to stop the policy of imperialism and militarism."

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BASE21 News Desk

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