Residents plan more protests near Camp Humphreys
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Camp Humphreys officials issued a fresh alert to the U.S. military community Thursday saying local residents who oppose the camp’s expansion had scheduled a protest for Friday.
Up to 2,000 protesters were expected to rally in Daechu-ri, a rice-farming village that borders part of Camp Humphreys, police in Pyeongtaek said Thursday.
Some area residents and South Korean civic activists have been locked in conflict with the South Korean government over its plan to evict them from lands in the Camp Humphreys area.
The government bought 2,328 acres of farmland in 2005 to enable Humphreys to triple in size by 2008 and become the U.S. military’s chief installation on the peninsula.
The expansion comes as part of an agreement between South Korea and the United States. Most area residents have relocated, but several hundred, spurning the government’s financial offers, have refused to leave.
Friday’s demonstration was set for 2 to 6 p.m., beginning with a rally at Daechu-ri Elementary School, police said.
The school is just yards from Camp Humphreys’ northwest perimeter fence. Resisters have been barricaded inside the school grounds for months and have made it a center for resistance activities.
They have refused to comply with a government eviction order and have battled recent South Korean police efforts to seal off the land and evict the holdouts.
Friday’s protest was scheduled one week after an April 7 incident in which work crews under contract to South Korea’s defense ministry tried but failed to seal three canals that supply water to the rice fields near Camp Humphreys.
Faced with protesters who fought with police at the scene, workers were able to finish only part of the job; resisters later tore out what concrete had been poured, the Ministry of National Defense said.
A defense ministry spokesman has said the ministry wants to set up a dialogue with resisters in hopes of ending the deadlock.
Some areas, activities near Humphreys still restricted
Camp Humphreys officials reminded the military community that the following places and activities were restricted as of Thursday:
The following villages and the routes to and from them: Daechu-ri, Bonjeong-ri, Wonjeong-ri, Nae-ri, Dodu-ri, Hamjeong 1-ri, Hamjeong 2-ri and Duejeong-ri. The restriction does not apply to those traveling between work and home.Camp Humphreys’ northern perimeter road from the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion headquarters area to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense compound main gate in the Zoeckler Station area.Walking, hiking, running or biking in the area west of Camp Humphreys to the Anjun River.— Franklin Fisher