For the security of our people’s lives we completely oppose the redeployment of
troops and participation in the war of aggression in Afghanistan.
'The Korea Alliance for Progressive Movements (KAPM) is an anti-war, anti-U.S. Imperialism, and pro-peaceful reunification alliance of Korean organizations from various sectors and regions of Korea, among them the Democratic Labor Party, the 6.15 Committees for Reunification, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and the Korean Peasant's League. The alliance was created to bring together the various movements and campaigns in Korea under a broader strategy and context and in the process create connections between them and lend each campaign more strength and effectiveness. The alliance was created with the merger of an anti-FTA, anti-WTO alliance and an alliance of organizations created to implement the 6.15 declaration (in 2000) between North Korean leader Jong Il Kim and then president Dae Jung Kim. http://jinbocorea.org/main_eng.php'
The following is an article about KAPM’s stance against the deployment of PRT & security forces to Afghanistan by the South Korean government.
For the security of our people’s lives we completely oppose the redeployment of troops and participation in the war of aggression in Afghanistan.
If asked by the U.S., would we also just give up the lives of our countrymen?
Lately the Lee Administration is moving swiftly to block knowledge about the South Korean public’s opposition to the redeployment of its troops to Afghanistan. As we raised several times before, the purpose of this redeployment is not to fight the war on terror, but it is instead a humiliating submission to U.S. pressure that risks the security of Korean people, and involves it in a bloody, amoral, war of aggression and occupation for the ultimate purpose of installing a pro-U.S. regime.
Let us examine the Lee Administration’s process leading up to its decision to redeploy troops. At the end of October at the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ last visit to Korea, he stated that “from the level of global security the military contribution will be of benefit to Korea’s security and core national interests” and actually directly asked that the Korean government redeploy its troops. Then, just before the Obama Administration’s visit to South Korea in November the Lee Administration announced that it would re-deploy troops to Afghanistan. On the day of President Obama’s visit there was even a report that the scale of the redeployment might be increased to 2000.
With the previous deployment of Korean troops to Afghanistan in 2007, the Korean people experienced the death of Sergeant Chang Ho Joon as well as the kidnapping of 23 Korean missionaries and the killing of two of them. After these incidents the Korean government made an agreement that it would pull out the troops stationed in Afghanistan and then unequivocally promised that it would not deploy forces to Afghanistan again. Now barely two years after this promise, under U.S. pressure, the Lee Administration will cast aside the promises that had been made to the people and redeploy troops, putting the lives of our countrymen at risk once again.
The expansion of the war in Afghanistan is a great disaster for people that cannot be expressed in words.
According to reports from global humanitarian NGO organizations, in just 2008 alone, there were 2,100 civilian deaths and among them 55% occurred during combat. There were 500 civilian deaths attributed to IMF air strikes, an increase of 72% compared to 2007. In addition surprise raids and search operations performed by the IMF have resulted in civilian deaths, severe use of force, theft, and inappropriate behavior and violence towards women. Many in Afghanistan are also detained by U.S. and IMF forces for prolonged periods of time without being charged or given a trial with reports that the rates of torture and abuse towards them is increasing. This behavior only increases the anger and suspicion towards the IMF and future military operations planned for 2009 will only become greater obstacles towards the construction of a social safety net for people in Afghanistan and impede organizations trying to get aid to those in most need of it.
Members of the PRT are also soldiers
The PRT is not a civilian body. In 2004 the then Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the PRT, “as an important part of our combat forces,” plays an important function in the war in Afghanistan. The military’s PRT forces in Afghanistan are under the banner of the Combined Joint Task Force and so in reality are also a part of the occupying army. Afghanistan’s cultural and societal customs and its suspicious attitude towards foreign troops, makes the military lead PRT inherently unsuitable for constructing Afghanistan’s social infrastructure. Instead because the PRTs military nature blur the line between civilian support and military it makes it even more difficult for humanitarian aid agencies to deliver relief to those people most devastated by the war.
This is a problem that cannot be resolved by merely shutting the mouth and ears of our people
On November 18th, to mark the occasion of President Obama’s visit, civil society groups held a joint press conference. The press conference was interrupted by police troops and ultimately resulted in the arrest of two members of civil society groups. In addition later that night the police arrested 18 people that were holding a candlelight vigil and cultural performance against the redeployment of troops. The police insisted that it was an illegal rally and as soon as people began to sing a song with no political content the participants were forcefully arrested. In contrast, when the conservative groups’ held a press conference and cultural event welcoming President Obama there wasn’t event a hint of opposition or obstruction by the police. It is unclear exactly what standards the Administration, which it claims that it has, is using to enforce the law. This issue ultimately can’t be resolved merely by suppressing the people voice that opposes the redeployment.
Although the Lee Administration insists that the purpose for the redeployment is to provide security for the PRTs, the Lee Administration is also independently considering plans to operate in a new region that has seen a sharp rise in the number of U.S. and NATO casualties due to engagement with militants. Immediately after the Lee Administration’s announcement the terror alert level for Korean enterprises already in Afghanistan increased.
If the Lee Administration, with its constant arrogant and lone actions, decides to enforce the redeployment of troops then it is creating a situation where soon casualties will be inevitable. In the worst possible case scenario some even say that those redeployed troops may even incur very heavy losses. Because this is a situation where more problems will keep arising, public opinion for the withdrawal of Korean troops and the condemnation of the administration responsible for the deployment can only keep strengthening. However, this time it will only be only after many of our people have lost their lives.
In order for the safety of our people, blameless in this U.S. war of aggression to install a pro-U.S. regime in Afghanistan, we demand that the redeployment be immediately stopped and strongly renounce the Lee Administration that is pushing such measures forward.
Kim, Seong Ook
Director of Anti-War, Pro-Peace Department
Korea Alliance for Progressive Movements