We called him, “Benj.’ The villagers used to call him, ‘Benjari,’ which sounds similar to the name of a fish, “jari,’ very common in the Jeju Island. It was Miryang, a village woman, who put him with such nickname. A villager poet, Kim Sung-Gyu wrote a poem for ‘Benjari,’ from the intimate feeling toward him. Benjamin Monnet, a French peace maker, as we often miss him now, has been our close friend. Despite the different language, he loves Gangjeong, Gureombi, and prays for the peace and lives of the Jeju. He first came to Gangjeong upon the moment of Women’s film festival in May, 2011. Since then, Gangjeong became a kind of his spiritual hometown.
His feeling on justice was very strong so because of it, he got the injunction order on March 14, 2012. He was inhumanly forcefully deported from Korea on March 15. On the day, a UK activist and Nobel Peace nominee, Angie Zelter, also got the order of forceful exit on her planned date (See more on it, here). It happened that three members of the Veterans for Peace of the United States were also violently deported on March 14 (See more on it, here). It was a time that the government, changing the chief of the Seogwipo Police station with a figure from the mainland, forcefully started to blast 10 % of the Gureombi Rock, on March 7, 2012. It was a time that 10 internationals had been arrested on Feb. 26 when they tried to enter the Gureombi Rock underneath a wire razor that was suddenly set up on Feb. 24, the 1st day of the Jeju International Peace Conference (20th anniversary of the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space). See more on it here. The oppression on international peace activists around the time and since then have been remarkable. There have been at least 20 internationals that have been denied entries to South Korea, related to the issue of the naval base project in Gangjeong from Aug. 26, 2011 (See the summary on it, here)
Benj has continued supports on Gangjeong. In May 2012, we could see him with Seri in Paris for the solidarity protest with the struggle in Gnagjeong (See the video here)
Thanks to Seri who recently visited him, we could get his postcards to the Gangjeong Village international team, villagers and Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo. We share those here.
- Remembering Benj
On March 12, 2012, he climbed up a crane with Kim Seri. He was arrested for the 3rd time and got the injunction order from the Immigration Office two days later. For the detailed situations, please click here. After injunction, he filed a suit against the Jeju Immigration Office for the ‘cancellation on the injunction and supervision orders,’ through representative of him. The first trial was on June 13, 202 (related Korean article). However, the Administrative department of the Jeju District Court dismissed his suit saying he did not have the qualification for an applicant on July 15, 2012(related article). The court said, “Mr. Monnet brought about not a little obstacles in the progress of the [Jeju naval base] project by joining many times in the opposition rallies against the [project] and has gotten the warnings on his long-term visit…The injunction order to devise for the interest and safety of a nation is never neither a excessive deviation nor abuse of discretionary power.” To the surprise, the judge was Mr. Oh Hyun-Kyu who made a sentence of direct arrest of Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo from the court on Feb. 1 (See here)
On March 12, Benj and Seri stopped the destruction of the Gureombi Rock for two hours in suim suits in cold weather. The beautiful site that they tried to keep has now become the ugly 3~4000 ton caisson production area. The navy eventually blasted the 10 % of the Gureombi Rock in the east and west parts of it during March and April last year. And It started to produce caissons for 24 hours since Oct. 25, 2012. However, we will restore the Gureombi Rock unless our hearts and determination disappear.
His message shows his continuous heart for the Gangjeong and Gureombi Rock. We thank and miss him, our brother!
2. Benj’s postcard to the Gangjeong Village international team and villagers
Dear Gangjeong International Team, Villagers
Feb. 17, 2013
Thanks to Seri, I have well received all your gifts. I truly appreciate it. So please receive some hand-made embroidered t-shirt of my creation. I was thinking to put them on website, Peace Center for the people to buy it. The proceedings of the sales could help to strengthen the movement or pay the court fines. What do you think? We can also sew a Korean version…I am searching for new ways to help Gangjeong. I am in contact with two French journalists who are ready to make a documentary about Gangjeong situation.
With patience, determination & Universal love, Benjari
3. Benj’s postcard to Yang Yoon-Mo
Kathmandu, Nepal, 17 Feb. 13
I ignore where you are, But I heard you were surprisingly sentenced to jail for 18 months. I sent some t-shirts to Gangjeong with “Free Yang Yoon-Mo ♡“ embroidery. Hoping the people will buy it in solidarity with our resistance movement.
I remember when we were in the cell together, at Dongbu in March 2012.
You were practicing some kind of meditation.
As a meditator, I wish that inner-insight practices, will help you to pass sense fully through the term of your sentence-Concentrating on your breathing and observing your inner sensation to purify your mind. You will come out stronger.
Hopefully, the picture of this Himalaya landscape will inspire you-
With Patience, Determination, and universal love
“The struggle for Harmony continues.
~ FREE Pr YANG YOON MO ~
Here is a picture of Pr Yang holding a photo of the undercover police beating him, he said humorously to a villager: “Keep this photo, someday it will worth millions!”” (Benj)
4. T-shirts to people
The front side of t-shirt sent to mayor Kang Dong-Kyun. While the front is of the embroidary letters of “Why Crimes Against Humanity?,” the letters of ‘savejejunow.org’ is described at the end of a sleeve. One green T-shirt is of the embroidary letters of ‘Free Yang Yoon-Mo.’ Benj designed himself and asked embroidaries. As seen in the below photos, T-shirts for women are green while the T-shirts for men are blue and black.
The back side of T-shirt is the embroidary letter of “Jeju Island, Hiroshima, Himalaya.” In the right bottom of the image, it is signed in embroidary of ‘Benj’.
5. Benj is always with us.
The banner hung in the background of the photo is what Benj designed and Mr. Lim Ho-Young (media team leader then) made a production for the Jeju International Peace Conference (the 20th anniversary of the Global Netwwork against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space) from Feb. 24 to 26, 2012. Whenever we see this banner, we always think of Benj