Five religious representatives read a statement opposing the base construction project
Leaders of five religions including Catholicism have asked the government to immediately stop building a naval base on Jeju Island for the sake of environmental preservation and peace of the Korean peninsula.
The Religion and Environment Forum held a press conference yesterday in front of the central government complex in Seoul.
Jeju Island, 450km south of Seoul, was designated an “Island of Peace” by the Seoul government in 2005 and a biosphere reserve for protecting maritime resources by UNESCO.
Also, they demanded that the government release Gangjeong villagers opposing the construction,who were arrested on charges of obstruction.
Father Peter Hwang Sang-keun, representative of the Korean Catholic Solidarity for the Creation Integrity, criticized “The project began without discussion with villagers or an environmental impact assessment.”
Venerable Jukyeong of the Buddhist Environment Solidarity said: “The government is suppressing the villagers’ freedom of assembly and association.”
Meanwhile, Father John Ko Byeong-soo, pastoral director of Cheju diocese which has jurisdiction over the island, said that tensions over the construction site of the base are continuing to grow.
According to him, some 300 policemen have been deployed around the area since last weekend.
“Our diocese has held Masses for life and peace with the villagers every Thursday at the village, but we will celebrate the Mass every day. And three priests including me will stay with the villagers around the clock in turn to prepare for emergency,” he said.
Last September, the South Korean Navy started to build the base, intended as home to a new fleet of some 20 warships patrolling the East China Sea between China and Japan.
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