Veterans for Peace members call for collaboration with Hawaiians of Okinawa descent to stop base construction

Veterans for Peace members call for collaboration with Hawaiians of Okinawa descent to stop base construction

Members of the U.S. organization Veterans for Peace discuss the issues posed by U.S. bases in Okinawa at the Okinawa Co-educational Participation Center “Tiruru” in Naha on December 15

December 16, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the evening of December 15, a symposium featuring members of the U.S. peace organization Veterans for Peace (VFP) was held at the Okinawa Co-educational Participation Center “Tiruru” in Naha. At the symposium, former U.S. military service members and Okinawans shared stories about their participation in anti-war and peace movements. The VFP members, after visiting and learning about the U.S. bases in Okinawa, including the planned relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Henoko, Nago, expressed their desire to spread the message of opposition to the Henoko base construction to U.S. city councils nationwide, and to members of the U.S. Congress. The city council in Berkeley, California recently passed a resolution opposing the Henoko base construction, and the VFP members talked about collaborating with Hawaiians of Okinawan descent to get the Honolulu city council to pass a similar resolution.

The symposium, which had more than 200 attendees, was organized by the VFP Okinawa Visit Action Committee. Veterans for Peace has more than 120 branches throughout the United States, and around 4,000 members. They announced that on December 21, they will establish a Ryuku/Okinawa branch.

Member Ann Wright, who was in the U.S. army for 29 years and worked as a diplomat for 16 years, left her job as a diplomat in 2003 due to her opposition to the Iraq war.

Wright was one of more than 100 overseas scholars and intellectuals who recently published a statement opposing the Henoko base construction. Wright, who lives in Honolulu, expressed her intention to work to oppose the Henoko base construction in Honolulu and the United States.

Former U.S. airman Bruce Gagnon described how during the Vietnam War, seeing the anti-war demonstrations around the U.S. bases, he was gradually drawn to the peace movement. Gagnon said that when people protest against war outside the base fences, their message will undoubtedly get through [to the soldiers inside the base].

Other speakers at the symposium included former U.S. airman Dud Hendrick; Suzuyo Takazato, who has participated in delegations to the U.S. to petition against the bases; and former schoolteacher Eiko Ginoza. When the VFP members chanted, “No More Base,” attendees to the symposium joined them.

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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