Bill Mesler's article in the '96 Spring edition of CAQ, titled 'Partners in Repression' has finally lifted the lid on this cosy little nest of US approved torturers and killers. The name Kwangju is the place where up to 2000 dissidents (they're the ones that US "interests", and their presidents, seem to hate), were slaughtered in 1980. Some of the victims were doctors giving aid to the injured. The present South Korean Gov't has arraigned the former president of that time -Roh Tae Woo and the General leading the 1979 coup against the elected government -Chun Doo. The charge is mutiny and sedition in connection with their roles against the 1979 government.
Other dissidents have been fighting for real Justice for the "martyrs" since that time. The dead included children with their mothers and innocent onlookers. For many Koreans, the massacre is also a symbol of all that was and continues to be wrong with the Nation's close relationship to the US. Since the incident, anti- Americanism has grown dramatically, with young Koreans now six times more likely to fear the United States than North Korea.
The apparent US support for Gen. Chun and the massacre has cemented those fears in the minds of millions who are now a unifying force within a pro-democracy movement. The prosecutors may expose the extent of US influence over Korea's economic, military and political affairs, and challenge the 50 year strategic relationship that critics say destroyed Korea's democracy and human rights. Washington has kept all details tighly locked away.
A professor of history at UCLA mentions that "Nobody suggests that US soldiers were shooting, only that there was US complicity. The US should disclose its role and offer an apology. That would be good for democracy in S.Korea and also in America!" Whenever did the US tell the truth on covert interference, or apologise?
True to traditional expansionism, US divided Korea after WW2 between North and South,replacing Japan's occupation with American. All democratic committees were disbanded and power was given only to the same resident hated Japanese police force -an ugly commence- ment of US future role-which was to support S.Korean military rule.
In 1976, Pres. Carter pledged complete withdrawal of US forces but the Pentagon's strategic obsession with that area vetoed this by suggesting the N.Koreans had a 600,000 man army. Carter instead provided the Generals with masses of interrogation equipment and riot control agents. By 1980 the US did not want to see a democratically elected leader, or a democratic Korea-Kwangju complicity? US interference ensued on any hint of repression laws being lifted. An example was made of the fate of dissidents by Chun Doo choosing the Kwangju poverty area and deploying black beret paratroopers to carry out the plan.
200,000 protesters took to the streets of Kwangju, with the city surrounded by Korean (ROK) troops. A citizens' committee asked the US to mediate but this was refused with a reply, which encouraged Gen Chun to retake the city by force: "We recognise that a situation of total disorder and disruption in a major city cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely." An hour later the killing began. A while later Reagan invited Chun to visit, calling him a "key defender of freedom's frontier". One newspaper reported that the coup was sanctioned by theUS some months before the event.
Many of the troops used in Kwangju massacre were under the operational command of a US General, but on loan from the US General -most unusual what? But not unusual perhaps then or now when many Generals outside the US are under the actual control of, or appointed by US Administrations. One only has to glance at Burma, Africa, Latin Am, Carib, and even the US "best friend" and the UN or NATO forces to know the score.
Then there were the unexplained redeployment of two early- warning aircraft from Okinawa and the repositioning of an aircraft carrier from the Phillipines to the seas off Korea. These ordered were completed after a Pres. Carter meeting with US Nat'l Security. The Kwangju operation was delayed three days till all was ready. In 1988 Washington asserted that "most" of the carnage at Kwangju was committed by SAS units not under US operational control, and blaming the Korean media control for distorting the 'facts'.(j. One wonders who taught them how to use 'media mind control'.) Finally, just four days before the massacre, the US State Dept told the press that the Carter Admin'n had decided to support security and order in South Korea.
Then followed a long period of brutal repression, martial Law imprisonment of dissidents, torture and human rights violations. j- The only item worth remembering about that lot is this strange US fixation with the words "Human Rights", yet its inability to grant such rights to any country with a Black, Indian, Communist, Poor, Socialist, Moslem, Chinese, Hindu or Buddhist population that falls under its power. But Koreans still demanded their democracy back.
In 1992 Kim Young Sam was elected president, pledging that "justice will flow like a river". Hence the present trial of former presidents Chun and Roh for involvement in mutiny and sedition against the '79 govt, but blossoming into a corruption spectacle as well. This started out on a figure of $US63 million but now investigators have uncovered $653 million and still searching! Where did those funds come from, one wonders.
Apart from Puerto Rico and the Phillipines, Korea has been dominated militarily, economically and politically by the US more than any other nation. Others much more brutally of course. The US military contingent totals 37,000 in Sth Korea, which supplied 300,000 conscripts to aid America in South Vietnam. j- Here these "rented soldiers" are described by Noam Chomsky in the "Washington Connection and Third World" as having committed a whole series of My Lai-scale massacres. 12 separate massacres of 100 or more civilians, were uncovered in the Jones study.These soldiers carried out dozens of other massacres of 20 or more unarmed civilians, plus innumerable killings, robberies, rapes, tortures and devastation of land and personal property. Their aggregate numbers of known murders clearly runs into many thousands; and Jones examined only a part of the territory "pacified" by these "allied" forces. The bulk of the victims were women, children and old people. If the Koreans sustained any losses -even by an exploding mine, they would go to the nearest village and shoot 20 or 120. All this with knowledge by US authorities and in fact with approval. Their cost to the US from 1966-73 totalled $1.76billion for protecting an important area" And "protect the Viet people against "terrorism" (to quote Wm Colby).
Why this desperate Pentagon need for bases here and obstructive measures against Korea. A US invasion of China, Russia -or greed? Why does US reject all calls for peace and Korean total Unity?