Activists plan four-day protest outside Camp Humphreys
Stars and Stripes March 22, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean activists opposing the planned expansion of Camp Humphreys have called a four-day protest at the installation’s main gate, officials said Monday.
The demonstrations are to begin Saturday and run through Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The post’s main gate may be closed without notice, the Army said.
Meanwhile, a South Korean lawyers’ group has announced it will help defend activists who face government action for resisting efforts to clear the land and evict the remaining residents.
The South Korean government has moved to clear all remaining residents from their homes on farmland near Camp Humphreys and has been locked in conflict with hold-outs who are refusing to leave.
The government took legal control of 2,328 acres last year to enable the U.S. military to triple the post’s size by 2008. Camp Humphreys is slated to become the main U.S. military installation on the peninsula under an agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.
Most residents have moved away, but some refuse to leave and say they’ll resist the government’s attempts to move them.
Last week, farmers and other resisters scuffled with police during an abortive defense ministry attempt to begin sealing off the contested lands. Workers under heavy police escort had shown up to cut trenches across roads in the area to prevent farmers from working the soil. And they said they would enclose the land behind barbed-wire fencing. But they called off the attempt after scuffles broke out.
Last Friday, farmers and others resisting the government’s eviction effort plowed up about 653 acres of the contested land in a gesture of defiance against a government no-farming order.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said Monday the government eventually would carry out its plan of sealing off the land.
Pyeongtaek police on Monday said they had released two protesters but that two activists remained in custody.
And Camp Humphreys officials said Monday that most travel restrictions imposed on U.S. military personnel last week remain in effect.
An off-limits restriction on travel in the town of Anjung-ri, which is just outside the Camp Humphreys main gate, was lifted last Friday.
However, travel continues to be forbidden in the following villages and routes to them: Daechu-ri, Bonjong-ri, Wongjong-ri, Nae-ri, Dodu-ri, Hamjeong 1-ri, Hamjeong 2-ri, and Duejeong-ri. The ban does not apply to personnel entering those areas on their way to or from work.
Inside Camp Humphreys, officials have closed a section of the northern perimeter road between the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion headquarters area and the main gate of the South Korean defense ministry compound in the Zoeckler Station section, the spokesman said.