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Saemangeum reclamation suspended!

?but the protest must continue

Saemangeum, the world`s largest reclamation has been suspended! A South Korean Court ruled that the reclamation is illegal and must be halted immediately. The Government appeal was heard on October 31st, and a final decision is expected in a month or two. If the appeal is won by the government, we could lose the Spoon-billed Sandpiper for ever!

As regular readers will know the Appeal against the suspension of work on the Saemangeum Reclamation was due to be heard on October 31st. The hearing went ahead, and according to representatives from the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Korea`s largest environmental NGO, the expert witnesses called by the pro-reclamation Ministry of Agriculture and Farming (MAF) added very little to the arguments that have already been set out. The current feeling is that a final decision on Saemangeum`s future will now not be made before the beginning of next year at the earliest.Rather than sit back and wait while the decision is made protesters feel that the extra time should be used to move the campaign to publicise the importance of this huge wetland to new highs. WBKEnglish, with the full support and backing of KFEM, are proposing an event called Samboilbae for Saemangeum - timed to coincide with World Wetlands Day on February 02, 2004.

The samboilbae is a uniquely Korean form of protest - see http://www.wbkenglish.com/samboilbae.asp or http://www.wbkenglish.com/korprot.asp where participants perform a ritualised march, taking three steps and then a deep, kneeling bow where the forehead is touched to the ground. It is slow, quite arduous, a little painful (for those with ageing knees at least!) - but is also great fun and will be a deeply moving experience. The plan is to help co-ordinate as many people as possible to perform the samboilbae at as many wetlands worldwide as they can. The potential effect of a mass samboilbae is very great indeed:

1] Making this a Korean event will draw attention to Saemangeum (and the wetlands of the Yellow Sea and surrounding region), and show huge support for the Korean people - effectively negating any argument that international opposition to Saemangeum is really just anti-Korean sentiment.

2] It will make the event very interesting to the media - both inside Korea and overseas. With KFEM`s help the resulting publicity will put further pressure on pro-reclamation Ministries within the Korean Government, and keep the issue and the final decision very much alive.

3] The event can also be used to highlight the threats facing wetlands worldwide - and attention will be drawn to wetlands and activists wherever it is performed.There is not much time left to organise Samboilbae for Saemangeum (who could have guessed that saving Saemangeum would still be a valid cause at the end of 2003?), so protesters plan to make taking part as easy as possible. They will set up a section on the WBKEnglish website which explains the concept, performance, and historical significance of the samboilbae, post updates as the campaign develops, and co-ordinate the publicity for the event. Of course many of you may have already planned events for World Wetlands Day, but it would be fairly easy to incorporate a samboilbae of perhaps 30 (or more) people into the day. To simplify things still further organisers don`t intend to ask participants to arrange sponsorship or anything similar - just to take part and get publicity.They do of course need help - regional co-ordinators and volunteers, participants, benefactors, etc. They need organisations and webmasters to promote Samboilbae for Saemangeum. They will be sending out press-releases and need them to be placed in as many media as possible. Their first press-release will go out at the end of next week, and hopefully they will be able to include a list of organisations offering support or individuals willing to take part. Destroying Saemangeum will threaten thousands upon thousands of migratory waterbirds and could cause the extinction of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. WBKEnglish will do whatever they can to ensure that the huge and critically-important wetlands at Saemangeum don`t simply disappear quietly - please help them…

Contact Charlie and Nial Moores, Kim SuKyung, http://www.wbkenglish.com wbkenglish@aol.com

4th July 2014