St. Francis Peace Center Foundation hosted an English-language online course titled “Resisting Militarization in Jeju and Northeast Asia” from Apr. 9/10 to May 28/29. Kaia Vereide, an international peace activist supported by the Center, facilitated the 7 weekly sessions. Each week, a speaker gave a 40-minute presentation about resistance to militarization in their region, and 25 participants with diverse backgrounds and ages joined in small group discussions and full group Q&A times.
Three of the speakers gave permission to share publicly their presentations:
These are some of the participants’ reflections:
This course gave me a wider vista to view the issue. I was appalled by the destruction of coral reefs at Henoko, enraged with the way the local police and military treated inhumanely its own people, and my heart was broken with the massacre of young people on the third of April in Jeju. I knew now that the island nations are being transformed into military arsenal by the US military forces.
Though seemingly formidable this struggle is, I am still hopeful because I have found kindred spirits. For me, this course exemplified solidarity in action and the journey just began. I am hoping to bring this issue to our local discourses. -Prescilla Tulipat
I have learned a lot through the program. It was great to meet people from the places across the ocean and share our experiences with each other. An opportunity like this brings us together and connects us. I would love to keep in touch with them and continue our conversations! This program helped me learn about Korean, the Philippines, and the U.S. military strategies. Learning about these places also gave me a different perspective to think about Okinawa as well! It was a great program, and I would love to participate again! -Tatsuki
Our histories, political struggles and joys are so bound up in one another but sometimes it seems that colonial borders, languages and mindsets have fragmented us and made it difficult to witness each other's stories. The Resisting Militarization program was a remedy for this separation and allowed me to dive deeper into the work of connecting the militarization of my ancestral homeland with other places across the Pacific. This program affirmed in me that my vision is much stronger when I am in conversation with others from different homelands, generations and political organizing lineages. -Sho
One thing that always strikes me in learning about anti-military struggles is the common threads between struggles in different contexts. For example, the history of Jeju and the current resistance to base construction reminded me a lot of Okinawa's experience. For me, this really highlights how both the US military and host nation governments prefer to station troops and construct bases in more remote places like Jeju and Okinawa that are far from the "mainland" and "inconvenience" fewer people. In other words, they continue to marginalize historically marginalized groups and treat them like second-class citizens, in the name of "national security.” -Charmaine
This program was incredible, thank you so much for organizing it! The history of women in the Philippines, Okinawa, Jeju, and South Korea organizing against the US military is so important to share. I've learned so much. -(anonymous)
Born in South Korea, I have been living with this on-going war. I had been taught to accept the militarization as a necessity to survive and to protect ourselves. Since moving to Gangjeong village last March, I started questioning many beliefs in my mind. Participating in this course helped me loads in redirecting my questions.
I had many rude awakenings. I was shocked how blinded I was. The truth can be so easily hidden from our sight by ideologies. As though there were people who wants us to feel insecure and insufficient.Through this course, I felt deep sense of connection and humanity. I found hope for breaking the vicious circle of brutality by solidarity. In fact, each of us are from different parts of the world yet we belong to one humanity and one Earth. I deeply appreciate this opportunity to be with all of the other participants who share similar concerns. I felt connected through our mutual concern for cruel history and for not repeating it. May peace be with you. -Susan