CAPA and Korea Peace Network Advocates Cheer Diplomacy with North Korea!

Repost from from June 12, 2018

Dear CAPA Members,

I write this from the United Methodist Building across the street from Capitol Hill after a full day of lobby visits with the Illinois Congressional delegation on behalf of CAPA and the Korea Peace Network. By sheer coincidence, the KPN’s June 11th and 12th Washington D.C. conference and advocacy days happened simultaneously with the historic peace summit between the leaders of the US and North Korea. Our network had a chance to respond immediately to skeptics of the peace process at the dawn of a new age in diplomatic relations on the Korean Peninsula. One thing is clear. The Korean people want peace and we as Americans have a unique opportunity to support them in their desire for de-escalation of over seven decades of hostility and tension.

Our message to Congress was that this is a first-step in the right direction and that they as elected officials should take a lead role in supporting open dialogue. The summit built good personal relations between the leaders and kick-started a LONG process toward peace. The real work begins now. What gives us hope is that North Korea has unilaterally provided all the security assurances up to this point by halting missile and nuclear tests, releasing the detainees, and destroying a nuclear test site. We feel that the administration’s decision to halt the US military games is an appropriate security guarantee for the US to provide at this point and the decision completes the first cycle of reciprocal security guarantees and trust building.

The decision to recover and repatriate US service member’s is a point of real substance. This commitment will begin joint US-North Korean military operations that will bring closure to thousands of families who lost loved ones in the Korean war while also reducing the risk of military miscalculation. This is the perfect first step in trust building and the US must now pursue as many engagements like this as possible starting by providing protections for humanitarian operations and reuniting Korean and Korean American families.

On the news of a successful first meeting between sitting leaders of the U.S. and North Korea at the summit in Singapore, with a statement in which the countries agreed to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and security guarantees for North Korea, leaders of the Korea Peace Network, released the following statements:

Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action and Coordinator of the Korea Peace Network, noted, “There will likely be many steps along the way, but we are on the path to peace on the Korean peninsula, toward resolving one of the world’s thorniest conflicts. The summit would have been unimaginable just a few short months ago, when threats of nuclear war were hurled about. While understandably lean on details, the Singapore summit statement commits North Korea to denuclearization, with corresponding, as yet unspecified security guarantees for North Korea, returning the remains of U.S. soldiers, and a new relationship between the U.S. and North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the people power ‘candlelight revolution’ movement that helped put him in office, deserve a lot of the credit for the historic breakthrough. As our activists — peace, faith, veterans and Korean-American leaders from around the country — meet with House and Senate offices today, we will press them to support this hopeful beginning for peace.”

Christine Ahn, Founder and International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, who was in South Korea recently to lead a women’s peace delegation, remarked, “Although the document signed by Trump and Kim is thin, it is bold in its direction of re-orienting relations between historic adversaries. The fact that the first two points start with a commitment to establish new relations and to build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula demonstrates Trump’s pragmatism and understanding that peace and security assurances are paramount to North Korea’s concerns and pursuit of nuclear weapons. The fact that Trump said that the U.S. would end the ‘provocative’ joint US-ROK war drills is significant, not to mention the fact that this was the first time a standing U.S. president met with a North Korean leader. The compass has been set, now it is time to ensure that these principles are followed through with concrete action, and this is where it is crucial for civil society, especially women’s groups, step in.”

Hyun Lee, Editor of Zoom in Korea, said, “Last night’s summit was a historic breakthrough in U.S.-North Korea relations. It signaled a final end to seven decades of hostility and tension and a commitment to establishing normal relations between the two countries. In tandem with steps toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the two countries should move toward complete and irreversible normalization.”

Dan Jasper, the Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Asia at American Friends Services Committee (AFSC), stated, “The agreement by the two leaders to recover and repatriate U.S. service member remains is a point of real substance that should not be overlooked. This is a significant victory for the families of these service members who have been hoping for the return of their loved ones for over 65 years. These operations address human security needs that lay at the heart of this conflict. It’s engagements like these that will ultimately transform this conflict and reconcile the wounds of this war.” Jasper recently published a report for AFSC entitled Engaging North Korea: A Toolkit for Protecting Humanitarian Channels Amid “Maximum Pressure”.

In closing, thanks for all the support that YOU, our CAPA members do in assisting our peace advocacy on the Korean Peninsula and all around the world. We couldn’t do this work without you.

In solidarity,

Hassan El-Tayyab

Policy and Organizing Director at Chicago Area Peace Action

CAPA is going to Japan for Hiroshima Day!