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Statement - Miryang Committee against Transmission Tower



December 17, 2013

A Statement from the Miryang Committee against 765kV Power Transmission Tower forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

SOUTH KOREA: Appeal to all sectors of society from Miryang villagers after experiencing a hard time in the third suicide attempt against the Power Transmission Tower

1. Legs are shaking and heart is trembling. This time, with good fortune, we could have saved one's life. If we did not force emergency services up to the mountain, having believed what we were told by the police who said that she did not take medicine but only consumed alcohol and if we did not ask for the gastrolavage to be carried out, we feel our hair stand on end.

2. After the late Mr. Yoo Han-Suk took poison last Tuesday (December 2) and passed away (December 6), we have started living under the plastic waving in an icy wind. A week passed since the tent was torn out and smashed by police while setting up a citizen's incense altar, an old woman, protesting with her top taking off, was kicked. Police have not said a word of apology. Even police and officials of Miryang City Hall blocked villagers from carrying the pallet to the incense altar preventing damp due to rain.

3. Miryang villagers have lived with miserable pain for the last 76 days. Meanwhile, 56 people were sent to the hospital. One of them has been fighting against brain hemorrhage, another has passed away and Ms. Kwon has been under intensive care. Police have been intent on oppressing the elderly villagers terribly and brutally in every place. Villagers have got into a panic because of the third suicide attempt which took place a week later after the second death.

4. In June 2013, right after the construction was temporarily halted in May, health care providers of Korean Federation Medical Activist Groups for Health Rights examined the health condition of the villagers and reported its result. It said that high risk patients of post-traumatic stress disorder are 69.6\% among them. It is said that it is four times higher than that of American citizen who experienced the September 11 attack. The report said that the ratio of very severe depression was 17.7\%, very severe nervous anxiety 30.4\% and very severe phobia 29.1\% among the villagers respectively.

5. Today is not the tenth day after the construction in May, but the seventy sixth day. In the meantime, two villagers attempted to take their lives. The mental state of Miryang villagers is at its worst stage. The conflict with the police was light at the beginning of the construction in May. However, now police are controlling every single thing, the construction of power transmission towers is in process under the protection of police, distracting helicopters are flying around overhead and villagers are being interrogated by the police.

6. We are afraid. We all are afraid and again afraid and we sincerely appeal. First, we appeal to the government and officials of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPC). Please stop. We would not ask the very existence of the nation. But stop construction of power transmission towers right now. Stop right now providing individual compensation like devil's trick, making villagers fight against each other. We do not know what would happened if the construction is continuing. Stop construction and come to a forum for conversation with villagers.

7. We appeal to the politicians. The Miryang power transmission tower construction is no longer justified since completion of the third Sin Gori Nuclear Power Plant scheduled on August 2014 is now postponed for more than two years. Pushing stubbornly as if nothing has happened, however, is driving villagers within an inch of their lives. It is the role of politicians to listen the voices of people suffering from state violence, to make and to seek common ground. In the situation of Miryang, this is a breakdown of politics rather than disappearance. Please come to Miryang and understand our situation. Then, please request cessation of construction from government and KEPC and open a forum for conversation.

8. We appeal to the media. There is a journalist in Miryang. Only superficial incidents, based on press release produced by the committee or police, have been delivered. Public television and conservative press have completely ignored what is going on in Miryang. Please contain in your report the voice of villagers how they live their lives daily and their miserable and furious voices. When it comes to human life, it is out of question of conservatives or progressives. People are dying with completely ignorance.

9. We appeal to religious people. Please come to Miryang and console the villagers. Villagers do not have a place to lean on under the constant construction and violence and conflicts among villagers becoming supersensitive due to individual compensation offered from the KEPCO.

10. We especially appeal to those who provide psychotherapy. Please come and diagnose accurately the mental state of the villagers. The result will be surprising. We are afraid that group domino effect can be happened. We need an expert in psychology and psycho therapist desperately. Please come running.

11. We finally appeal to people in the country. What Miryang villagers hope is simple. That is just seeing old age in the place they used to live in peace with their neighbour. It has become impossible now and there has been conflict for nine years, 13 times of suspension and resuming construction and this oppression for the last 76 days makes the villagers stand on the edge of a cliff. Please, be concerned with painful voices of Miryang villagers and speak out "STOP" to the government and KEPCO.


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