August 8, 2010
Korean organic farmers have held a “Mass for life and peace” to urge the government not to evict them from their lands to make way for a controversial river project.
The farmers’ lands are to be compulsorily purchased to make way for the Four Rivers Project. Authorities have already deposited the purchase price for the lands in a local court as the final step in the process.
The government must heed the cry of the farmers as a voice from heaven, said Father Joseph Cho Hae-bung, president of the Catholic Solidarity for Deterrence of the Four Rivers Project, at the Aug. 5 Mass.
Following the Mass, the farmers staged a protest rally in front of the Seoul Regional Construction Management Administration.
In a statement released there, the farmers “strongly urged” the government to seek an alternative solution through dialogue rather than through imposed administrative measures.
They also revealed that the government is threatening that evictions could begin within a month.
The farmers warned that the Four Rivers Project “would cause unimaginable damage.”
Authorities claim it is needed to prevent flooding and pollution, but its many opponents – ranging from Churches to local environmentalists – say it will have the opposite effect.
After the country’s ruling party was defeated at the recent June 2 nationwide local elections, the Catholic Church has called for an immediate halt to the project.