The elderly, not an enemy of the State but residents of the Mother Earth, confronting unjust state power in Miryang, Korea
Elderly residents of Miryang in Korea have confronted 3,000 police officers for 15 days since October 2, after KEPCO resumed construction of transmission towers for high-voltage power lines. The elderly of Miryang have been hurt and Mr. Lee, Sang Hong, the secretary general of Gyeongju KFEM, who supported their activities, has been arrested in a clash with police.
The residents are fighting because the construction was unilaterally resumed by KEPCO despite their fierce opposition. Farmers in Miryang have opposed the construction of power transmission towers since 2007. For example, a 74-year old farmer self-immolated after witnessing construction at his farmland in January 2012 and the construction has been temporarily stopped since then.
Local residents, mostly in their 70s or 80s, who want to spend the rest of their lives farming, have opposed KEPCO’s construction of the power transmission towers because of the adverse effects of electromagnetic waves on human health and agricultural crops.
In 2005 KEPCO announced the construction plan for 161 power transmission towers in Yangsan, Miryang and nearby areas, in order to connect 765kV transmission cables of 90.5km from Singori Nuclear Power Plants to Northern Gyeongnam electricity substation. The aim of the construction is to transmit electricity that will be generated by Singori Nuclear Power Plants to the Capital, Seoul and its metropolitan area.
In November 2007, Korean Government approved the plan at Miryang where 69 towers will be built with recognition of only 0.6% of local residents, which shows 127 people out of 21,069 residents. The local residents who came to learn about this later have established 'Miryang People’s Association against Construction of 765kV Transmission Tower’ and have strongly opposed the construction while living in tents in mountain.
Miryang residents are outraged that KEPCO persistently ignores adverse impact of the electromagnetic waves from towers on human health and neglects free, prior and informed consent into the decision making process.
According to the nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 citizens conducted by KFEM/FoE Korea, Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health, and the laboratory of the Graduate School of Public Health in Seoul National University, 66.1% sympathize with the opposition activities of Miryang residents and only 17.6% do not. Therefore, 6 or 7 out of 10 people support Miryang residents who are confronting KEPCO.
KFEM/FOE Korea supports Miryang residents fighting against the police force for more than 15 days as well as voicing their opposition for more than 6 years, to ask for proper decision making processes and to protect their health and the environment in their area. In respect to the current confrontation, we, KFEM/FOE Korea would like to ask your support for Miryang local residents with the following recommendations.
1. Korean government and KEPCO should immediately stop the construction of transmission towers and talk with Miryang residents for risk communication. .
2. Korean government and KEPCO should disperse unjust police force.
3. Korean government and KEPCO should release Mr. Lee, Sang-Hong, the director of Gyeongju KFEM.