Tag Archives: arms

Statement on Jeju Island and the US Naval Base

In the village of Ganjeong on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, local people are struggling to prevent the construction of a new US naval base. The base is intended to service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.

At a village meeting in 2007, the vast majority of villagers voted to oppose the base. They have launched lawsuits against the construction; they have held protests and engaged in civil disobedience against the construction efforts; their encampments have been raided and protestors have been injured and arrested; and some have even engaged in hunger strikes. Yang Yoon-Mo was arrested on 6 April 2011 for locking himself under earth moving equipment intended to begin construction. He began a hunger strike that lasted for 60 days, until Bishop Kang U-il of Jeju Catholic Diocese convinced him to stop and go on struggling in solidarity with the other activists. Sung-Hee Choi, who was arrested on 19 May for holding a sign that read “Do not touch any stone or flower,” went on hunger strike untilYang was released from jail on 1 June. She will go on trial on 10 June.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) expresses solidarity with the people of Ganjeong in their struggle to stop the construction of the naval base. Military bases are a visible structure of militarism and imperialism; they waste economic resources of the “home” country and destroy environmental, social, political, and financial resources of the “host” country; and they undermine the lives and livelihoods of local people. Violence against women and girls around military bases is a particularly aggravated problem that results from the interconnections of militarism, imperialism, racism, and sexism. Overseas bases also undermine more constructive forms international cooperation and engagement and perpetuate militarism and military spending.

WILPF International calls upon members in all of its National Sections to contact the Korean Defence Attaché assigned to Washington, DC at defenattache[at]yahoo.com, the South Korean Embassy in Washington at +1.202.939.5600, and/or the South Korean and US embassy in one’s own country to call for the immediate cessation of construction of this base.

WILPF International also encourages its members to follow developments on the island through the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space blog and the Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island Facebook page and to support the trip of Global Network board member MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island to bring international messages of solidarity to the people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (who is also a WILPF member) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island. Please consider making a donation to the Global Network to help fund her trip.

Download a PDF version of the statement


Global Day of Action on Military Spending

The Global Day of Action on Military Spending on Tuesday 12 April 2011 is an effort to mobilize people all over the world in joint action against excessive military spending which threatens human security; rather than purchasing arms, governments could support humanitarian efforts to address global crises.

Co-sponsored by The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and organised by the International Peace Bureau and the Institute of Policy Studies, the event is designed to build awareness and an international network to address this issue.

UK WILPF President, Pat Pleasance says, ‘It is imperative that we have international joint action to address the inhumane excessive military spending by major world governments. Since 1915, WILPF has worked to promote peace and justice, but high military costs promote war and global instability. It is time that we take a stand against this.’

The UK Section of WILPF currently supports the ‘Human Security not Military Security’ campaign, WILPF has been advocating an end to excessive military spending for years and supported the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. This campaign examined military expenditures of some of the world’s biggest countries and called for a shift in global priorities to achieve sustainable development, gender equality and peace.


Declaration against the War in Libya

WILPF women in the UK, Germany, France and the United States are angry at our governments’ actions in Libya.

The bombing is hypocrisy. Our governments have presented military intervention as coming to the ‘rescue’ of rebels and civilians while diplomacy has taken a back seat. They have forgotten that military intervention is not the answer to the Libyan people’s calls for freedom and democracy.

The UN Charter clearly states that all parties need to settle their disputes peacefully, to ensure international peace, security and justice. Only when all other means have failed can further action be taken. In the case of Libya the obligation to work for peace has been reversed with the massive military strike coming first, while strengthened boycotts and civilian measures are still being debated.

We ask our governments to use diplomacy and peaceful political pressure to resolve the situation in Libya. We call for a total ban on arms exports to all sides in Libya, and no more arms exports to repressive regimes.

Statement from WILPF Germany against the war in Libya (PDF)

Outrage over UK arms sales to Libya

In recent weeks we have seen state owned weapons in Libya turned against civilians, legitimate protesters who have taken to the street to demand their basic human rights.

Where have these weapons come from? In the third quarter of 2010 (the most recent period for which figures are available), equipment approved for export to Libya included, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition and tear gas/irritant ammunition. Ammunition comprised £3.2m of the £4.7m million of military items licensed. The UK was happy to arm Gaddafi, and continues to be happy to arm the dictators of the Arab World, last week David Cameron travelled to the Middle East, flanked by arms companies, in a disgraceful sales trip.

The UK and the International Community has a responsibility to protect civilians. So was itreasonably foreseeable that the arms provided to the Libyan dictator by the UK, would be used against civilians leading to direct violations of human rights and international humanitarian law? Or was it safe to assume that, given the nature of the regime, the stockpiles were for legitimate use?

It is too late to protect after the event and these arms should not have been sold.

Dear Sir,

The UK Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has today expressed outrage at the government’s continued readinesss to export arms to authoritarian regimes.

The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate end to violence in Libya, and concerns about the use of British made weapons against civilians grow, yet David Cameron still cannot see any problem with arms sales to authoritarian regimes.  Yesterday he referred to arms deals as a “fact of life”.

As David Cameron spoke in Kuwait yesterday to condemn violence against civilians in Libya he was flanked by officials from arms companies and the UK Trade & Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) who are exhibiting at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), the largest defence and security event in the Middle East and North African region.

Weapons including tear gas and crowd control ammunition have been exported by the UK to countries including Bahrain and Libya.  The timing of this sales trip is deplorable and exploitative and shows the government’s disregard for human security and freedom of expression.

UK WILPF calls for the immediate embargo of all arms sales to the region and an urgent enquiry into unethical and irresponsible selling practices by the UK government.


President, UK WILPF