"Boycott Samsung" demonstration in London
Olympic sponsor's military construction threatens 'Peace Island'
A demonstration on Saturday 9 June outside the Samsung Store on Tottenham Court Road called for a boycott of Samsung products. Samsung is the main building contractor of the controversial $970 million naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea. Officially designated 'The Island of World Peace', Jeju is home to several UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage sites, and promoted by the South Korean government as 'one of the seven wonders of the world'. The people of Gangjeong village, where construction threatens their way of life, farms and coastline, are mounting a non-violent resitance that's gaining international attention. Samsung and the Korean navy continue to enforce the project despite 94% opposition among the village electorate. Over 500 protestors have been arrested since construction started, many imprisoned, including the village mayor.
The demonstration highlighted the disturbing use of masked thugs to break up protests at the Samsung construction site. It also gave information about one of Samsung's numerous corruption scandals, the $216million 'slush fund' discovered in 2007 used to buy political favours. The navy base is widely regarded as being ordered by the US for military to intimidate China, and organisers sought to show the close ties between corporate and military power.
The protest also provided information on other problems with the Samsung corporation; their 'No Union' policy which runs counter to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the grave issue of cancer deaths among Samsung factory workers in LCD smartphone screen production plants. To date 56 mostly young female workers have died, the most recent being just one week before the protest.
Samsung is an official Olympic sponsor but must accept that its practices currently run counter to Olympic values and the 'promotion of peace', one of its claimed corporate values. A poll this year by Greenpeace and Public Eye voted Samsung the third worst company in the world. The call for a Boycott of Samsung products will continue while Samsung profits from the destruction on Jeju Island and maintains its abysmal record on workers rights and health.
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