U.S. Peace Groups and Korean Americans Oppose U.S. Missile Defense in Korea
Candlelight Vigils Held in Multiple Cities
Peace groups and Korean Americans in the United States held candlelight vigils in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Berkeley this week to oppose the U.S. government’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea.
The actions were timed to coincide with simultaneous candlelight vigils being held in multiple cities across South Korea on Saturday, October 22, which marks the 100th nightly anti-THAAD candlelight vigil in Seongju, South Korea, the site that was originally designated for THAAD deployment.
On July 7, 2016, the U.S. and South Korean governments announced a joint decision to deploy the THAAD system in South Korea. Due to staunch opposition from the residents of Seongju, mostly melon farmers, the Park Geun-hye administration was recently forced to change the location of the THAAD deployment to nearby Gimcheon City.
This week’s candlelight vigils in the United States were organized by the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific, a new coalition of U.S. peace organizations and Korean Americans, to demand the White House rescind its decision to deploy the THAAD system in Korea.
In a statement signed by eighty-four peace organizations around the world and notable figures such as MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Nobel Peace Laureate Ingeborg Breines, the Task Force urges the U.S. government to “move away from policies that escalate military tension in favor of policies that seek to resolve conflicts, peacefully, through diplomacy and dialogue.” Toward that end, it demands the U.S. government “rescind its decision on THAAD deployment in South Korea and pursue all possible avenues for reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula by re-engaging in diplomacy with North Korea.”
“The U.S. THAAD deployment in South Korea is part of the U.S. ‘pivot’ to the Asia Pacific,” said Will Griffin of Veterans for Peace, “It expands the already significant network of U.S. missile ‘defense’ systems encircling China and Russia and intensifies regional military tensions. It also fuels a new arms race, increases the possibility of a new war on the Korean peninsula and undermines the national sovereignty and democratic aspirations of the South Korean people.”
“Very little is known in the United States about THAAD, but this issue should also be of concern to people in the United States,” said Marty Hart-Landsberg of the Korea Policy Institute. “The cost of the THAAD system - estimated at tpf=board/list&board_code=11.3 billion, plus an additional million each year for operating and sustainment - will be borne by South Korean and U.S. taxpayers. The continuing development of new and more destructive weapons systems draws precious resources away from needed domestic social programs.”
*Photos of candlelight vigils are available here - http://stopthaad.org/gallery/
*See here for full statement of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific and list of endorsers.