International Symposium on Environmental and Human Rights Violations Caused by U.S. Military Bases Report

An International Symposium on Environmental and Human Rights Violations Caused by U.S. Military Bases took place from September 8-10, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea.  The symposium was organized and sponsored by National Campaign for Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea and Green Korea United and featured participants from five regions around the world: Okinawa, Germany, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Korea.  As major troop redeployments and conflicts escalate on the Korean peninsula, symposium organizers sought to bring together a diverse group of experienced participants to exchange information about the environmental, social, and human rights issues surrounding U.S. bases around the world in order to consolidate a global network among concerned activists and citizens.  The symposium was a great success in meeting both these goals—all the participants left with a renewed commitment to learning more about each other’s work and strengthening international cooperation.

The symposium began with two meetings in Chuncheon and Pyeongtack between local residents, foreign participants, and NGO representatives.  The meeting in Chuncheon included discussion of the U.S. military’s imminent pullout and how the reclaimed land may be used with special focus on how this was done in Germany and the Philippines.  Meanwhile, the meeting in Pyeongtack included discussion about future military expansion in the area with special focus on alternative measures to relocation used in Okinawa and Hawaii.

The international symposium the following day in Seoul brought together all participants for a discussion of the historical background of U.S. troops in various parts of the world, environmental, social and human rights conflicts, changes in relocation processes of U.S. troops, and alternative measures and policies for resolving these conflicts.  Myrla Baldonado and Jade Ruzel S. Timbas from the Alliance for Base Clean-Up in the Philippines spoke about the damage caused at Clark air and Subic naval bases and the lessons learned from the forced withdrawals there.  Ashitomi Hiroshi from the Civic Movement for Anti-Helicopter Base in Nago reviewed the current relocation of U.S. troops in Japan and the ongoing resistance efforts from local citizens and civil groups.  Silke Studzinsky from the Military Law Task Force spoke of the uses of reclaimed land and legal processes used to achieve it in Germany.  Kyle Kajihiro from the American Friends of Service Committee Hawaii Area Program and Terri Kekoolani from DMZ Hawaii presented historical and current conflicts over U.S. bases in Hawaii and the ongoing buildup of forces there.  After a discussion period and quick lunch, participants and organizers boarded a bus for Maehyangri, where Korean authorities had very recently resumed control after over 50 years of U.S. military destruction and abuse.  Everyone present was moved to hear the voices of local activists describe their long period of struggle and plans to turn the abandoned firing range into a peace park.

The symposium came to a close with documentary screenings from each of the participating regions of the world.  After these inspiring visual displays, the event closed with a discussion of future networking.  And all the participants later enjoyed a spirited round of drinks as they vowed to return home and redouble their efforts.

County Report (English): Germany, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Korea.


Program

1) Open forum between local Koreans suffering from the consequences caused by the US military bases in Korea and participants of the international symposium (September 8, 2005)
  • Forum for local Koreans in Chuncheon
    Local Koreans in Chuncheon, from which US troops will pull out, NGO representatives, local authorities etc. will have a discussion about environmental issues in the wake of the withdrawal and the future use of the reclaimed area with participants from Germany and the Philippines.

  • Forum for local Koreans in Pyeongtaek
    Local Koreans in Pyeongtaek, to which US troops will be relocated, NGO representatives, local authorities etc. will have a discussion about the conflict between local residents and the government and alternative measures concerning the relocation with participants from Okinawa and Hawaii.

2) International Symposium on Environmental and Human Rights Violations caused by U.S. Military Bases (September 9, 2005)

Participants from 5 regions(Okinawa, Germany, the Philippines, Hawaii and Korea) will discuss about resolving the environmental issues and human rights violations caused by US military bases.

3) Screening of a documentary film on the environmental and human rights violations caused by U.S. military bases (September 10, 2005)

The documentary film will draw the attention of Korean citizens to the issue of environmental pollution and human rights violations caused by US military bases as well as the efforts on the part of NGO activists to resolve them. There will be a Q&A session in which citizens can talk to local Koreans who are suffering from the social consequences and damages at the present.

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