June 10, 2000 International Tribunal for U.S./NATO War Crimes in Yugoslavia
U.S. War Crimes in Korea
By Deirdre Griswold
Distinguished Members of the Tribunal:
Deirdre Griswold has recently visited sites of U.S. war crimes in south Korea, is editor in chief of Workers World weekly newspaper, published in New York. She spoke about the pattern of criminal conduct of the U.S. military and how the 1950 war crimes led to a continuing 50-year occupation of Korea.
In judging the U.S. government on the subject of war crimes against Yugoslavia, I ask you to take into consideration that it is a repeat offender.
The government and the U.S. military have claimed for decades that their attacks on civilians, for example, are merely "collateral damage"not a deliberate policy but unfortunate accidents in the heat of battle.
The Korean and Vietnam wars are proof that this is a monumental lie.
In 1967 I served in London and Stockholm on the first Bertrand Russell Tribunal. It found the U.S. guilty of a multitude of war crimes in Vietnama verdict later confirmed by history.
In both Vietnam and Korea, some three to four million people died. Most were civilians. They were seen as "the enemy" by the Pentagon.
I have just returned from South Korea, where a delegation invited by the National Alliance for Democracy and Reunification visited five sites of civilian massacres in Kyungsang Province and interviewed survivors. These massacres were carried out in the first months of the Korean War by South Korean troops under overall U.S. command, as well as by U.S. troops themselves.
They included the bombing, strafing, machine-gunning and shelling of columns of refugees, thousands of whom were killed. They also included the murder of thousands of political prisoners and other individuals singled out because they might be sympathetic to north Korea. We visited an abandoned cobalt mine where hundreds of political prisoners had been taken from Taegu Prison, shot and dumped down a mine shaft in August 1950.
Now, on the 50th anniversary of that war, a grassroots movement has sprung up in south Korea to investigate U.S. war crimes. It has already pinpointed 34 massacre sites in the south.
As you know, one sitethe railroad bridge at No Gun Riwas the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press report last October that the U.S. government tried but failed to discredit. Some 300 civilian refugees were machine gunned there by U.S. troops. Maj. Gen. William B. Kean, commander of the 25th Army Division, reportedly told his troops that all civilians in the battle zone "are to be considered as enemy."
U.S. veterans told AP that their company commander, Capt. Melbourne C. Chandler, after speaking with superior officers by radio, ordered machine-gunners to open fire on the huddled refugees. "Lets get rid of all of them," he told his men.
In north Korea, U.S. troops committed countless atrocities against the civilian population. They are detailed in a recent DPRK Foreign Ministry report. In addition, the policy of the U.S. Air Force was total destruction. Schools, hospitals, houses, places of manufacture and commerceeverything was bombed and destroyed. Not one building was left standing in Pyongyang, the capital. That in itself is a war crime.
A recent book by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman reveals in great detail how the U.S. used biological warfare against north Koreaanother war crime aimed at civilians and soldiers alike.
After 55 years, nearly 40,000 U.S. troops still occupy south Korea, preventing the reunification of that divided country. Not a day passes without protests demanding U.S. troops out. Earlier this week, 4,000 people tore down the barbed-wire fence and briefly occupied the U.S. bombing range near Maehyang-ri, Koreas Vieques.
Is this Kosovos future as well? Bernard Kouchner yesterday told the UN Security Council that the UN administration will have to remain in Kosovo for "a significant number of years." As in Korea, a UN figleaf covers what is basically a United States military occupation.
Hopefully, your work here will hasten the day when U.S. troops come home from around the world.
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