IUCN: Anti-Base Activists From Okinawa Not Allowed To Enter South Korea

An international environmental conference is being held in Jeju, South Korea, somewhat under the radar here in Japan, but nevertheless an important event. However, all has not been smooth as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) made plans for their large event. IUCN was formed in 1948 and is a "conservative" group as opposed to more radical environmental organizations like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Members of IUCN often include national government groups and in the case of Japan, members include groups like WWF Japan, Birdlife Japan and The Nature Conservation Society of Japan (NACS-J) which started back in 1949 to campaign to protect the Oze Marsh.

Interestingly, the Okinawan group that wants protection for the dugong, the rare sea mammal, is a member of IUCN's Japan Committee. This meant, for example, that they were able to propose a resolution to save the dugong at the previous IUCN conference in 2008 in Barcelona, Spain.

For the IUCN conference this year in South Korea, an activist from this legitimate and non-violent Japanese NGO, Save the Dugong Campaign Center, was denied entry and thus not allowed to participate with colleagues from around the world. That is a scandal.

The dugong is under threat from the attempts to build a US naval station move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a coastal area near US Marine Corps Camp Schwab, at Henoko, Okinawa. More details about the dugong campaign here (pdf). Ten Thousand Things has written extensively about the campaign, see search results here.

Several other South Korean activists were not allowed to join the IUCN conference due to their campaign against a new South Korean naval base in Jeju Island, just a few kilometers from the conference center where the IUCN is holding its big event. For example, the Gangjeong Village Association was not allowed by the IUCN (pdf) to put up an exhibition booth, that would have showcased the horrific destruction going on next door to the conference...  South Korean NGOs have tried to engage IUCN in dialogue, and you can read the tepid responses from the IUCN here and here. Says IUCN:

IUCN’s statutes declare that “all persons entitled to attend the World Congress shall be admitted to that State without discrimination”. We are therefore very concerned about the three registered Congress delegates who were refused entry into Korea in the last few days. We formally asked the Korean government for an official explanation two days ago. The Korean government responded this morning saying that the delegates were refused entry according to the Korean Immigration Control Act and that this has nothing to do with the Congress.
We look forward to a continuing open dialogue on these issues and others at this Congress and beyond.

So, what are the protests in Jeju all about? For example, the way the construction is currently carried out, with massive "caisson" to be placed in the coastal waters. Says Save Jeju Now:

The aforementioned caissons are a subject of major contention by the anti-base activists and Gangjeong villagers. In the late 90s, years before the Jeju Naval base construction was even begun, the South Korean Ministry of Construction and Traffic declared that, due to the topography and weather of the South Jeju Sea, caissons were not proper to be used for construction in this area.
Completely ignoring this statement, the Navy/Construction company plan calls for  total of 144 caissons to be dropped in the total conservation area of the Gangjeong Sea of Southern Jeju. These massive caissons are also being dropped only 1km from a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and amidst Korean some of the worlds largest soft coral habitats. Soft coral is also a natural monument and endangered species in Korean.
When Samsung first began to bring the caisson to Gangjeong, it was discovered that they had not even done a simple and legally required inspection of the giant floating dock which is used to transport them. Samsung was later fined for this highly dangerous action.
Finally, two recent typhoons have been completely destroyed the 7 poorly made and dangerously placed thus far in the Gangjeong Sea. Their wreckage has litered the sea floor and contaminated the famously clean waters of Gangjeong. Learning nothing from this, Samsung continues to produce the caisson and will not change their plan. The Gangjeong sea is in a state of environmental emergency and if these unstable, unfit, and dangerous caissons continue to be dropped in this precious environment, the destruction could turn catastrophic.
In light of this new emergency, and the ongoing emergency of the illegal, unjust, and environmental destructive construction of the Jeju Naval Base in Gangjeong, the Gangjeong Village Association applied for a booth at the WCC 2012, to spread the word of this disaster. However, this booth was rejected by the IUCN under pressure from the South Korean Government and Samsung, a major sponsor of the WCC and primary destroyer of Gangjeong.
Please spread the word on this action and the Gangjeong Struggle. Especially, IUCN members, we appeal to you to listen to the cry of Gangjeong!
Peace in Gangjeong! No Naval Base!

Top image shows the non-violent protest on September 6, 2012 when five South Korean activists climed on top of one of the caisson that are currently being used to build the naval base at Jeju Island. Bottom photo shows the construction site, just a few kilometers from the IUCN conference.


According to Okinawa Outreach, 2 members from Save the Dugong Campaign Center were denied entry to South Korea:

The South Korean Government has been deporting people who have been standing in solidarity with Jeju people since last year. The number of entry denials to international supporters for Jeju amounts to 22. We regard the denials of entry without specified grounds as a violation of human rights that are recognized and valued among everyone in the international community, including the freedom of expression, assembly and transfer.

Update 2: 

I am happy to report that late on September 11, a motion (hopefully the resolution will be passed!) has been introduced at the Jeju conference that strongly rejects the "Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners..."

Source: Save Jeju Now: Motion on the Gangjeong Village 

September 11, 2012:

World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village

UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock freshwater tide pools (“Gureombi”), endangered soft coral reefs, freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;
NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;
NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;
NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;
UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;

THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;
NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;
ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;
NOTING the Absolute Preservation Act, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (1991) and that Gangjeong Village was named an Absolute Preservation Area on October 27, 2004: a permanent designation to conserve the original characteristics of an environment from the surge in development, therefore prohibiting construction, the alteration of form and quality of land, and the reclamation of public water areas;
CONCERNED that this title was removed in 2010 to allow for the Naval installation, and that this step backwards in environmental protection violates the Principle of Non-Regression;
RECALLING the numerous IUCN Resolutions and Recommendations that note, recognize, promote and call for the appropriate implementation of conservation policies and practices that respect the human rights, roles, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in accordance with international agreements;
CONCERNED of reports that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the naval construction was inaccurate and incomplete and may have violated well-known principles of international law concerning EIAs, transparency, public and indigenous participation, right to know, and free, prior and informed consent;
CONCERNED of the destruction of sacred natural sites in and near Gangjeong Village, noting that the protection of sacred natural sites is one of the oldest forms of culture based conservation (Res. 4.038 recognition and conservation of sacred natural sites in Protected Areas);
ACKNOWLEDGING that IUCN’s Mission is “To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable;” and that “equity cannot be achieved without the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights.”;
NOTING Resolution 3.022 Endorsement of the Earth Charter (Bangkok, 2004) that endorsed the Earth Charter as “the ethical guide for IUCN policy and programme,” and that the military installation is contrary to every principle of the Earth Charter;
NOTING the U.N. World Charter for Nature (1982), and that the military installation is contrary to each of its five principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged;
AND ALARMED by reports of political prisoners, deportations, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, including the arrests of religious leaders, for speaking against the naval installation and for speaking in promotion of local, national, regional and world conservation and human rights protections;
NOTING Res. 2.37 Support for environmental defenders, “UNDERSTANDING that the participation of non-governmental organizations and individual advocates is essential to the fundamentals of civil society to assure the accountability of governments and multinational corporations; and AWARE that a nation’s environment is only truly protected when concerned citizens are involved in the process;”
NOTING principles enshrined in the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development such as those concerning military and hostile activities (Art. 36), culture and natural heritage (Art. 26), and the collective rights of indigenous peoples (Art. 15);
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING that militarization does not justify the destruction of a community, a culture, endangered species or fragile ecosystems;
AND UNDERSCORING that IUCN’s aim is to promote a just world that values and conserves nature, and the organization sees itself as nature’s representative and patrons of nature;
The IUCN World Conservation Congress at its 5th session in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6-15 September 2012:
1. REAFFIRMS its commitment to the UN World Charter for Nature and the Earth Charter;
2. CALLS ON the Republic of Korea to:
(a) immediately stop the construction of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty;
(b) invite an independent body, to prepare a fully transparent scientific, cultural, and legal assessment of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area and make it available to the public; and
(c) fully restore the damaged areas.
Sponsor – Center for Humans and Nature
-Chicago Zoological Society (USA)
-International Council of Environmental Law (Germany)
-El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental, CEDA (Ecuador)
-Sierra Club (USA)
-Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina)
-Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA (Iran)
-Asociación Preserve Planet (Costa Rica)
-The Christensen Fund (USA)
-Terra Lingua (Canada)
-Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
-Citizen’s Institute Environmental Studies (Korea)
-Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica)
-Coastal Area Resource Development and Management Association (Bangladesh)
-Fundação Vitória Amazônica (Brazil)
-Fundación para el Desarrollo de Alternativas Comunitarias de Conservación del Trópico, ALTROPICO Foundation (Ecuador)
-Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Ecuador)
-EcoCiencia (Ecuador)
-Fundación Hábitat y Desarrollo de Argentina (Argentina)
-Instituto de Montaña (Peru)
-Asociación Peruana para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, APECO (Peru)
-Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, COICA (Ecuador)
-Fundación Biodiversidad (Argentina)
-Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica (Brazil)
-Fundación Urundei (Brazil)
-Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio Politecnico e Università di Torino (Italy)
-Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (Costa Rica)
-Corporación Grupo Randi Randi (Ecuador)
-Living Oceans Society (Canada)
-Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (Paraguay)
-Korean Society of Restoration Ecology (Korea)
-Ramsar Network Japan (Japan)
-The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Isreal)
-Chimbo Foundation (Netherlands)
-Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)


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