On August 15 – marking Liberation Day, when Japanese colonialism was defeated in Korea – the ANSWER Coalition joined the National Campaign for Peaceful Settlement in Korea for a rally and march at the White house to demand: End the Korean War! Sign a Peace Treaty Now! Below is a slideshow of photos from the event, as well as a speech given at the rally by ANSWER National Staff Coordinator Sarah Sloan.
We in the ANSWER Coalition want to thank everyone who is part of the National Campaign for Peaceful Settlement in Korea for organizing this event.
The Korean people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to live in peace. They deserve the right to live, to work, to learn, to provide food and shelter for their families, and to engage in all other facets of life -- free from the scourge of war.
We are here today to reaffirm this basic right, the right to peace.
62 years after the July 27, 1953, Armistice Agreement that ended the open military hostilities in the Korean War, the people of Korea are still the victims of a very real and ongoing war.
The Korean people were united as one nation for well over 1,000 years, but they are now scarred by division. South Korea is occupied by tens of thousands of foreign troops. North Korea is subject to endless war threats initiated by the Pentagon.
The U.S. military -- the same military forces that invaded the country 65 years ago and occupies the southern half to this day – carries out so-called war games that simulate the invasion of North Korea.
But these are not games. They constitute a grave threat that increases tension and are designed to force the government of North Korea to divert large parts of the national treasury to prepare for self-defense -- rather than use these funds to sustain civilian life and develop its civilian economy.
The U.S policy is a policy of war.
The United States spends nearly $1 trillion each year on its war budget. Its military budget and military operations are unlike that of any other country. Its military budget is larger than the next 20 countries combined. It possesses over 7,000 nuclear weapons with nearly 5,000 of them maintained in an operational state. It has spent nearly $7 trillion on nuclear weapons since 1942. It is the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons, which it did by instantly incinerating two entire Japanese cities 70 years ago.
When the United States simulates the invasion and bombing of North Korea -- in huge military exercises close by to North Korea – as it did March of this year, it must be understood as an act to deprive the people of North Korea of their right to live in peace.
These “war games” need historical context. The bombing of North Korea between 1950 and 1953 was of such magnitude and destroyed so much of the country that a familiar complaint of U.S. bomber pilots by the end of the war was that there was nothing left to bomb.
The refusal by the United States to sign a Peace Treaty finally ending the Korean War is used as a justification to maintain the virtual state of war today that deprives the Korean people of their basic right to live in peace.
In addition to endless war threats, the policy of the U.S. government breaches the peace by imposing severe economic sanctions that are designed to make the people of North Korea suffer.
The deprivation of food, medicine, technology and access to international trade is designed as a form of collective punishment of an entire people. Collective punishment is a violation of international law and defined under the 1949 Geneva Conventions as a war crime.
Economic sanctions should be understood as an act of war. Sanctions are an insidious form of warfare that is designed to silently harm an entire people.
We are here to say that it is time to sign a Peace Treaty ending the Korean War.
It is time to end the war exercises that threaten North Korea and its people.
It is time to end the economic sanctions against North Korea.
It is time to remove all U.S. troops and bases from the soil of Korea.
It is time to normalize relations between the U.S. and North Korea.
The people of the United States are not the enemies of the Korean people.
The current U.S. policy is not in the interests of the American people or the Korean people.
By our actions today, each of us can make a difference in making the promise of peace a living reality for the Korean people and for the people of this entire planet.