Renewed threat to whale activists

Feature story - May 25, 2005
Our Whale Embassy activists yesterday received a threatening letter demanding that we dismantle the Whale Embassy within 24 hours or face "consequences."

Activists in Ulsan protest Korean plans to return to whaling.

A juvenile minke whale caught "accidentally" by a fishing vessel is butchered in Ulsan, Korea. The meat was then sold for US$30,000. Korea reports an unusually high number of "accidentally" killed whales each year which are legally sold for meat.

A juvenile minke whale caught "accidentally" by a fishing vessel is butchered in Ulsan, Korea. The meat was then sold for US$30,000. Korea reports an unusually high number of "accidentally" killed whales each year which are legally sold for meat.

The Whale Embassy in Ulsan, South Korea ... with campaigner Jim Wickens on the phone as usual!

New Zealand activist Raoni and the Whale Embassy's resident dog, affectionately known as Stinky Biscuit Wickens.

Bulldozers move in to flatten the land of a proposed Whale meat processing plant and scientific research centre. The Greenpeace "Whale Embassy" has been occupying the area and the activists are refusing to leave until the plans for the site are cancelled. The activists were ordered to vacate the land by 16th May 2005, but have refused to do so.

The letter, delivered by representatives of the Jangsaengpo Development Agency,

accuses us of some bizarrethings

, such as threatening ladies' exercises and scaring teenagers, but mainlyof

preventing an economic recovery by opposing the research centre (orwhalemeat factory) and whale (or whaling) museum

The truth is, whaling -especially "scientific" whaling - cannot bring an economic recovery

.The research centre and whalemeat factory are not scientific or"environmentally friendly".  The Korean government is misleadingthe people of Jangsaengpo, risking their future and our activists' safety.

The angry mob that visited us yesterday are not representative of all the viewsin the area. Many of Ulsan's citizens have been visiting our embassy, drinkingtea with our activists, and even cooking meals for the team

and offering to washtheir clothes! 

Many local children have visited the embassy and watchedvideos, and even had English lessons in the green dome

Obviously, opinions in Ulsan are divided.  But there is a senseof frustration at the government, and at Greenpeace and Korean Federation forEnvironment Movement (KFEM) for supposedly threatening their optimism of aneconomic recovery. 

Locals speak of the "good old days" ofwhaling and eating whale meat.  However, the fact is that Korea's whalesare some of the most endangered in the world, and the locals' hope seems to be based on false promises and a nostalgicview of the outdated, unsustainable and internationally condemned practice ofcommercial whaling.

The Korean government, and the city of Ulsan, need to address the concerns of theJangsaengpo community and ensure they are given sustainable means ofredevelopment.  The local government should also ensure that our activistsare not threatened

as they struggle to defend Korea's whales for the future.

Translation of Document asking GP and KFEM to withdraw [Greenpeace commentary highlighted]

Statement of Jangsaengpo local people wanting to get rid of obstacle for international event.

Jangsaengpo local people have suffered over the last twenty years ofdecreasing economical conditions, but now they are expecting IWC andgrand opening of whale museum, so we are so excited about our economicrecovery and local trading stimulation.

Weare preparing facilitation, and making clear the streets and publicarea to prepare for visit of guests from other countries. We arepreparing our revival but Greenpeace, invited by KFEM, have set up acamp on the site of the proposed whale center. They are illegallyoccupying the place and they are trying to communicate their message,but they are not listening to the local opinions of local people.That's the reason why we make press conference to exclaim our thoughtsabout Greenpeace occupying the place for research center. [Greenpeace has been entirely open to talking with the local people, and sharing views.]

Fromthe beginning Jangsaengpo people tried to block the entrance of rainbowwarrior, and we prepared demonstrations on the water against Greenpeacevisit. But since we are facing international event, blocking Greenpeacewould be shameful, thats why we didn't do it. So GP and KFEM didn'thave any conflict when they came in to Jangsaengpo port, and they hadtheir event, and they then promised to us that they will do their eventfrom 4th April-11th April, then they said they would leave [The Rainbow Warrior left on the 12th April].

But they set up a camp right beside the whale museum, which is whaleresearching centre. They set up 10 tents and ran a campaign. It's been50 days so far.

Since they occupied thisplace it has been a threat to ladies who used to do exercise aroundthis are, and parents who have teenage children cannot let themoutside. [This is an odd  observation, since people have continued to exercise on the adjacent vacant lot everyday, and many local people, young and old, regularly come to the Embassy] 

Moreoverthe company who is contracted to build the whale research center istrying to make car park for oceans day, but GP and KFEM still occupythis space illegally, so they are being an obstacle and it touches thenerves of local people. [Oceans Day takes place on 31 May in Korea, and this is the day that the new museum promoting whaling will be opened.]

MoreoverGP and KFEM are still carrying out illegal occupation, but citygovernment and MOMAF of Ulsan are not doing anything about it. So itseems that the government doesn't care about Jangsaengpo local people'sopinions; this makes Jangsaengpo people get more angry.

SoJangsaengpo development association, Jangsaengpo senior association,Jangsaengpo young adult association and Jangsaengpo local people cannot put up with this situation, so we declare the following:

We ask to GP and KFEM, that the illegally-occupied camp that was set up from April 5th is immediately withdrawn by GP and KFEM.

Weare asking the government of Ulsan and MOMAF of Ulsan to process ourcomplaint using official power. We wish to make a complaint about theillegal occupation by GP and KFEM to the government after 30th May at12pm. In case GP and KFEM do not leave by 6pm on the 26th May, andgovernment do not protect local area people's rights, everything thathappens caused by this situation, will be the responsibility of GP andKFEM city of Ulsan and MOMAF of Ulsan's shoulders. [Greenpeace will happily vacate the site immediately, as has already been conveyed, upon assurances from the land owner (MOMAF), and the City of Ulsan, that the whale meat factory will not be built.]

2005 25th May

JangsaengpoDevelopment Association 
Jangsaengpo Senior Association 
Jangsaengpo Young Adult Association 
Jangsaengpo localpeople 
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