Camp Humphreys protest ends peacefully
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — A rally by slogan-chanting South Korean protesters who oppose expanding a U.S. military base onto farmland where they live ended peacefully Friday evening, officials said.
Some 1,100 protesters carrying placards and banners began their demonstration about 4 p.m. Friday at the elementary school in Daechu-ri, a rice-farming village bordering part of Camp Humphreys, authorities said. It later proceeded past a strip of ground just outside the Camp Humphreys perimeter.
The protesters also burned two figures in effigy during the rally but whom the figures represented could not immediately be determined.
The demonstration ended about 5:40 p.m.
About 3,000 South Korean police were on the scene but no violence occurred.
The protesters oppose a South Korean government plan to evict them from their homes so Camp Humphreys can triple in size by 2008 and become the main U.S. military installation on the peninsula. The expansion is part of an agreement between South Korea and the United States.
In 2005, South Korea’s government bought 2,328 acres of farmland near Camp Humphreys for the expansion. Most residents have moved out but several hundred have refused to leave and have pledged to defy efforts to evict them.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense has made several recent attempts to evict the holdouts and to prevent farmers from planting a new spring rice crop but aborted the attempts when protesters blocked government vehicles and scuffled with police.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.