korea project

Stop Sending Troops To Iraq

Statement of the Korean Women’s Associations United (KWAU)

21 June 2005

The government of President Roh has announced, despite the nation's concerns, that it will send additional troops to Iraq. The decision was made three days ago in a standing committee of the National Security Council. The 'Zaytun' unit will leave for Irbil, a Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, starting in August, continuing through October. With the Soe-hee unit already there, the number of Korean troops will now be 3,655 soldiers, making them the third largest of all foreign forces deployed in Iraq. Only Korea has decided to send additional troops, while others are reducing or pulling their troops out of Iraq. Now the worries concerning the safety of our citizens worldwide should grow even more, as we saw in the tragic death of Kim Sun-il, the Korean worker who was captured and executed by a terrorist group in Iraq on June 22, 2004.

We demand that the government rescind this ill-advised decision
The area where the Zaytun unit will be posted is not only well-governed by Kurdish militia, but is also a non-battle area with no need for post-war reconstruction. It is in fact illogical for our young men to go there and help restore peace and order, risking their personal safety and incuring enormous expenses. Furthermore, there is growing tension between tribes there regarding the interim constitution that will be adopted during the transition to civil government, making it highly conceivable that our troops will be entangled in a tribal strife rather than involved in reconstruction.

Now is the time to stop the troop deployment schedule and focus on analyzing the Iraqi situation. The government, however, has made a hasty decision regardless of the facts. The world’s largest additional troop commitment, and, besides the US, the third largest total deployment - this is not only against the decisions for withdrawal that most countries are making, but is also a threat to Iraqi-Korean relations and the safety of our citizens. We demand that the government rescind the deployment plan before it is too late and pull out the Soe-hee unit, to enhance Korea's international prestige and secure its peace and safety.

We demand that the ruling Uri Party reconsider the deployment plan
The Uri Party sat idly by when the government pushed ahead on the deployment schedule despite its promise that it would consider matters of national importance in a party organization, the Special Committee for National Unity, formed to consult public opinion. It could not provide responsible answers to NGO and assemblymen's questions in a general meeting of Assembly members held the day before the additional deployment was decided upon. The voice of many of its assemblymen and NGOs that the decision should wait at least until the matter was properly discussed in the 17th Assembly was also lost on it. The ruling Party acted as if additional deployment was something already finalized, and this gave the president an open chance. Although late, It should take responsibility and try to nullify the decision.

We demand that the 17th National Assembly check and guide the government
The government is preparing to send the troops while people fear a terrorist attack. The National Assembly should put a hold on this situation. To our relief, some assemblymen are drafting a resolution to reconsider and possibly revoke the second deployment plan. We, peace-loving women, support their action and hope that it will change the situation. We also demand that the assemblywomen who were of one opinion with the women's groups on last May 24, Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament, against the deployment of Korean troops in Iraq, now use their initiative and step up their action.

Since the US occupation Iraq has lost peace and hope. Women and children struggle with the burdens of disease, broken families, poverty and unemployment. Korean people are also experiencing uneasiness and disappointment with their government’s decision, one that is damaging to their long-standing efforts for peace and democracy.

We women who give life and love peace demand again that the government reverse their decision and step out of the vicious cycle of violence. We further demand that all assemblymen and women join the movement for justice, life and peace.