A regional court has ruled in favor of the government push for the construction of a naval base in a small village on Jeju Island but villagers repeated their vows Tuesday to continue fighting until their demands are met.
Late on Monday, the Jeju District Court ruled that villagers and activists should not obstruct the construction, accepting an injunction filed by the government and the Navy. The ruling is expected to provide fresh leverage for the police to crackdown on the “illegal protest” at Gangjeong Village.
“It is obviously illegal for protestors to intervene in the construction and they should each pay the government or the Navy 2 million in fines very time they violate the decision,” the court said in its ruling.
Four years of opposing the plan will not easily be forgotten by villagers and activists who said it will be an ongoing struggle to get the project canceled. They said they will hold a large-scale, peaceful rally and invite people from outside the island to ratchet up tension.
“We’re so disappointed with the court’s decision. It’s totally unreasonable and makes no sense,” said Hong Ki-ryong, head of the Jeju Human Rights Center. “We will remain protesting, not violently but peacefully, until the plan is abolished.”
The court rejected the request to tear down a “peace camp” the villagers set up on the beach side of the planned construction site to disturb the construction. The court partially turned down the request by the Navy to impose a ban on all disruptive activities including demonstrations by villagers and activists, saying staging a protest is a freedom of expression protected by the Constitution.
It was still a blow to protesters that the court issued arrest warrants for three people, including village leader Kang Dong-gyun, for the violent clash with police, Wednesday.
Following the latest court decision police said they will stop anyone who interrupts the construction.