The below is a translation of the excerpted from the village statement titled, ‘Relocating the village association hall to a tent, ‘ April 11, 2016.
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“…We, the Gangjeong villagers, are not activists. However, the reason that we symbolically relocated our Village Association Hall onto the street is because we have had everything taken away from us. For near 10 years, we have been trampled down by state power, and we have faced imprisonment and a barrage of fines while attempting to appeal and settle the naval base issue.
That is why we moved the operations of our Village Association Hall to a sit-in protest tent along the street [in a symbolic expression of our resistance]. When we had been faced in the past with enormous fines that we could hardly afford to settle, we did not consider selling the Village Association Hall because the residents ruled out the possibility. They said the villagers had not given up the Village Association Hall even under Japanese imperialism. They said: No matter how heavy and difficult it may be to resolve the fines, and even if problems could be solved by selling our building, we cannot sell the Village Association Hall because it is our spiritual pillar. Therefore, we endured a barrage of fines without selling it, however challenging the situation we faced. But all of these properties held in common by the village, which we have tried so hard to preserve, will be lost unless the Navy drops its lawsuit against us.
When the Navy first came to Gangjeong Village [9 years ago], its officials said to the villagers, “No matter who dies first, we will continue [this confrontation] to the end.” How horrible their words were at the time! We could not believe what they told us then. However, we may now respond to those words from the Navy as we have nothing to lose now: “If you take away everything we have, you may as well count every Gangjeong villager, whose lives you would also be ending!”
(Translated by Choi S. H then refined by Kim Nan)