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US Atrocities in Korean War

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With the world’s press spending a great deal of its energy on the rather fractious relationship between the United States and North Korea, a look back in time gives us some fascinating insight regarding the geopolitical stresses that rule the region, particularly the stresses that occurred during the Korean War.  

Thanks to the International Action Center and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a Non-Governmental Organization which was founded in 1946 and acts as a consultative group to UNESCO, we have an interesting document that outlines some of America’s actions on the Korean Peninsula during the early 1950s.

In March 1952, the IADL issued a Report on U.S. Crimes in Korea during the Korean War.  Here is a screen capture showing the title page:

In the early 1950s, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea repeatedly asked the United Nations to protest violations of international law by their enemies, the United States-led international coalition.

These requests were ignored by the United Nations and, as such, the Council of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers set up a Commission consisting of lawyers from several nations to investigate these allegations with a “boots on the ground” trip to Korea which took place from March 3rd to March 19th, 1952, visiting the provinces of North and South Piengan, Hwang Hai, Kang Wan, including the towns of Pyongyang, Nampo, Kaichen, Pek Dong, Amju, Sinchon, Anak, Sariwon and Wonsan among others.  

Here is a list of the lawyers that saw first-hand what had occurred in the DPRK:

The IADL notes that, under United Nations rules, the U.S. intervention on the Korean Peninsula was unlawful and that President Truman’s orders to the American Navy and Air Force should be considered an “aggressive act” that went against the United Nations Charter.

Here are some of the more interesting findings of the IADL Commission:

1.) Bacteriological Warfare: 

The Commission investigated the allegations that American forces in Korea were using bacteriological weapons against both the DPRK armed forces and the nation’s civilian population.  Between the 28th of January and the 12th of March (i.e. during the dead of winter), 1952, the Commission found the following insects which carried bacteria in many different locations:

The Commission noted that many of the insect species had not been found in Korea prior to the arrival of American forces and that many of them were found in mixed groups or clusters that would not normally be found together, for example, flies and spiders.  

It also noted that the January temperature was 1 degree Celsius (just above freezing) to 5 degrees Celsius in February but that the prevailing average temperature was far below the freezing level, temperatures that are extremely hostile to insect life.  

The insects were infected with the following bacteria which include plague, cholera and typhus:

  • Eberthella typhus
  • Bacillus paratyphi A and B
  • Shigella dysenteriae
  • Vibrio cholera
  • Pasturella pestis

Here are some examples of what was reported by local citizens:

In addition, a great quantity of fish of a species which live in regions between fresh water and salt water were found; these fish were found in a half rotten state and were infected with cholera.

2.) Chemical Weapons: 

On various occasions since May 6th, 1951, American planes used asphyxiating and other gases or chemical weapons as follows:

In the first attack on Nampo City, there were 1,379 casualties of which 480 died of suffocation and 647 others were affected by gas.

3.) Mass executions of civilians:  

According to witnesses, the commander of the U.S. Forces in the region of Sinchon by the name of Harrison ordered the mass killing of 35,383 civilians (19,149 men and 16,234 women) during the period between October 17th and December 7th, 1950.  

The civilians were pushed into a deep open grave, doused with fuel oil and set on fire.  Those who tried to escape were shot.  

In another case, on October 20th, 2015, 500 men women and children were forced into an air raid cave shelter located in the city of Sinchon.  Harrison ordered American soldiers to put explosives into the shelter and seal it with sacks of earth prior to the fuse being lit.

Here are other examples of mass murders:

4.) Bombing and Attacking Civilians:

Prior to the Korean War, the capital city of North Korea, Pyongyang, had a population of 464,000.  As a result of the war, the population had fallen to 181,000 by December 31, 1951.  In the period between June 27, 1950 and the Commission’s visit, more than 30,000 incendiary and explosive devices were dropped on the city, destroying 64,000 out of 80,000 houses, 32 hospitals and dispensaries (despite the fact that they were marked with a red cross), 64 churches, 99 schools and university buildings.

Here is a description of one of the aerial bombardments of Pyongyang:

Here is the conclusion of the Commission:

The IADL Commission unanimously found that the United States was guilty of crimes against humanity during the Korean War and that there was a pattern of behaviour which constitutes genocide.

Let’s close this posting with the conclusion of the 2001 Korea International War Crimes Tribunal which examined the testimony of civilians from both North Korea and South Korea over the period from 1945 to 2001:

The Members of the International War Crimes Tribunal find the accused Guilty on the basis of the evidence against them: each of the nineteen separate crimes alleged in the Initial Complaint has been established to have been committed beyond a reasonable doubt. The Members find these crimes to have occurred during three main periods in the U.S. intervention in and occupation of Korea.

  1. The best-known period is from June 25, 1950, until July 27, 1953, the Korean War, when over 4.6 million Koreans perished, according to conservative Western estimates, including 3 million civilians in the north and 500,000 civilians in the south. The evidence of U.S. war crimes presented to this Tribunal included eyewitness testimony and documentary accounts of massacres of thousands of civilians in southern Korea by U.S. military forces during the war. Abundant evidence was also presented concerning criminal and even genocidal U.S. conduct in northern Korea, including the systematic leveling of most buildings and dwellings by U.S. artillery and aerial bombardment; widespread atrocities committed by U.S. and R.O.K. forces against civilians and prisoners of war; the deliberate destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic production; and the use of illegal weapons and biological and chemical warfare by the U.S. against the people and the environment of northern Korea. Documentary and eyewitness evidence was also presented showing gross and systematic violence committed against women in northern and southern Korea, characterized by mass rapes, sexual assaults and murders.

  2. Less known but of crucial importance in understanding the war period is the preceding five years, from the landing of U.S. troops in Korea on September 8, 1945, to the outbreak of the war. The Members of the Tribunal examined extensive evidence of U.S. crimes against peace and crimes against humanity in this period. The Members conclude that the U.S. government acted to divide Korea against the will of the vast majority of the people, limit its sovereignty, create a police state in southern Korea using many former collaborators with Japanese rule, and provoke tension and threats between southern and northern Korea, opposing and disrupting any plans for peaceful reunification. In this period the U.S. trained, directed and supported the ROK in systematic murder, imprisonment, torture, surveillance, harassment and violations of human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, especially of those individuals or groups considered nationalists, leftists, peasants seeking land reform, union organizers and/or those sympathetic to the north.

  3. The Members find that in the period from July 1953 to the present, the U.S. has continued to maintain a powerful military force in southern Korea, backed by nuclear weapons, in violation of international law and intended to obstruct the will of the Korean people for reunification.Military occupation has been accompanied by the organized sexual exploitation of Korean women, frequently leading to violence and even murder of women by U.S. soldiers who have felt above the law. U.S.-imposed economic sanctions have impoverished and debilitated the people of northern Korea, leading to a reduction of life expectancy, widespread malnutrition and even starvation in a country that once exported food. The refusal of the U.S. government to grant visas to a delegation from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea who planned to attend this Tribunal only confirms the criminal intent of the defendants to isolate those whom they have abused to prevent them from telling their story to the world.

In all these 55 years, the U.S. government has systematically manipulated, controlled, directed, misinformed and restricted press and media coverage to obtain consistent support for its military intervention, occupation and crimes against the people of Korea.

It has also inculcated racist attitudes within the U.S. troops and general population that prepared them to commit and/or accept atrocities and genocidal policies against the Korean people.

It has violated the Constitution of the United States, the delegation of powers over war and the military, the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter, international law and the laws of the ROK, DPRK, Peoples Republic of China, Japan and many others, in its lawless determination to exercise its will over the Korean peninsula.

The Members of the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal hold the United States government and its leaders accountable for these criminal acts and condemn those found guilty in the strongest possible terms.” (my bold)

And Washington wonders why the North Koreans are so hostile toward the United States!  

The irony of Washington’s criticism of other nations (i.e Syria) and their use of chemical weapons is stunningly hypocritical.

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Wife of detained Richard O’Halloran wants Coveney to travel to China

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The wife of a Dublin businessman detained in China for almost three years has called on Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to travel to Beijing to plead directly for his release.

Richard O’Halloran, a 46-year-old father of four, has been blocked from leaving China since February 2019 over a legal dispute involving a Dublin-based aircraft leasing firm he works for.

His wife Tara said she had not received contact from anyone in Government or the Department of Foreign Affairs since November and she is concerned about the lack of progress in efforts to find a solution to the commercial dispute and secure Mr O’Halloran’s release.

She told The Irish Times that her children had to endure “third Christmas on FaceTime” with their father and his parents, who are in their 80s, “fear they are never going to see him”.

“We are very much at a place where we don’t know what else to do. We are really now pulling on the Government to try and do something immediately. It is nearly three years,” she said.

“We need some action. We are just asking that Simon Coveney go to China and meet face-to-face with the foreign minister or whoever it needs to be. Nothing is working that they have done in the past. We are in a place where we are really desperate.”

Last May, Mr Coveney met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Guiyang, China as part of Ireland’s two-year membership of the UN Security Council and used the opportunity to raise the case of the businessman.

Mr O’Halloran travelled to Shanghai almost three years ago in an attempt to resolve a commercial dispute involving the Chinese owner of China International Aviation Leasing Service (CALS), the aircraft leasing company he works for.

The dispute centres over Min Jindong, the chairman and main shareholder of CALS, and his raising of funds from Chinese investors to buy an Airbus aircraft that predates Mr O’Halloran’s employment with the company. The airplane has been leased to a Finnish airline.

Mr O’Halloran testified as a witness in the prosecution of Min for fraud. The Dubliner is not suspected of any wrongdoing, nor has been charged with any crime.

The Chinese authorities are demanding the money used to buy the plane be returned to Chinese investors and Mr O’Halloran has been prohibited from leaving the country.

CALS is not in a position to repay the money. A proposal made by Irish businessman Ulick McEvaddy, who became a director of the company to try to secure Mr O’Halloran’s release, offered to make monthly payment’s to the Chinese authorities from the aircraft’s lease income.

Mr O’Halloran’s brother David wrote to Mr Coveney and other politicians last week calling for the the Government to “forcefully” demand his release through Irish, EU and UN channels.

“David came over at Christmas time to visit the family and he was just so upset by the effect that this has had on everybody,” said Tara O’Halloran.

Echoing her brother-in-law’s plea in his letter, she said her husband’s situation was “not a commercial matter or legal matter anymore – it is a human rights matter”.

Her husband was in “a very low place” and felt “abandoned,” while her children are “absolutely devastated” as they had hoped their father might have been home before Christmas.

A spokesman for the department said it was “very actively engaged” on Mr O’Halloran’s case and continued to provider consular advice, support and assistance to him.

“The department remains fully committed to this case and will remains until Mr O’Halloran is permitted to return to Ireland,” he said.

“As with all consular cases, it would not be appropriate to discuss the specific details of the case.”

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gardaí search houses in Dublin and Offaly

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Gardaí investigating the murder of national school teacher Ashling Murphy have carried out searches of properties in Dublin and Co Offaly.

Both properties are understood to be linked to a man believed to be the chief suspect in the 23-year-old’s murder.

Ms Murphy was killed by strangulation as she was jogging along a stretch of canal near Tullamore on Wednesday afternoon.

Gardaí at the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where Ashling Murphy was murdered on Wednesday evening. Photograph: PA
Gardaí at the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where Ashling Murphy was murdered on Wednesday evening. Photograph: PA

The man attended a Dublin hospital on Thursday in the company of a family member where he received treatment for what doctors initially believed were self-inflicted wounds.

He remains in hospital under Garda supervision while detectives await medical clearance to interview him.

It is not clear when he will be physically and mentally assessed for interview but gardaí were hopeful this will happen imminently.

Ashling Murphy: The murder investigation was continuing as people in Tullamore expressed their shock and anger at the killing. Photograph: Rip.ie
Ashling Murphy: The murder investigation was continuing as people in Tullamore expressed their shock and anger at the killing. Photograph: Rip.ie

The Irish Times understands this suspect has lived in south Dublin and in the midlands, where he has family members.

His family members have told gardaí they do not believe he is capable of committing such a crime.

One property in Co Offaly, near Tullamore, has been searched. Gardaí in Dublin have also searched another house in south Dublin.

Gardaí are confident they are nearing a breakthrough in the investigation and that DNA evidence will prove crucial in their inquiries.

Gardaí believe Ms Murphy, a talented musician from the townland of Blueball just outside Tullamore, tried to fight off her attacker, resulting in the man who killed her leaving forensic evidence at the scene.

Forensic evidence was used to exonerate a man arrested on Wednesday in Tullamore and he was released without charge late on Thursday night.

Gardaí have examined the crime scene, a Falcon Storm mountain bike they suspect was used by the killer, Ms Murphy’s remains and the clothes she was wearing when she was killed.

Photograph: An Garda Síochána
Photograph: An Garda Síochána

They believe when the forensic results yielded from those examinations are cross-checked with any suspects it will prove instrumental in catching the killer.

The Falcon Storm bike they believe was used by the killer on their way to the scene was recovered after and is now a crucial piece of evidence in the case.

The killer was also seen by a number of people at the scene and statements have been taken from those eyewitnesses.

Gardaí are investigating a complaint from another woman who has told them she was followed on the canal tow path where Ms Murphy was killed about two hours before the murder.

Gardaí are also examining CCTV footage recorded around Tullamore on Wednesday looking for images of anyone riding the Falcon mountain bike.

Sources expressed satisfaction with how that part of the investigation was progressing. Gardaí have appealed to anyone who travelled between Tullamore town centre and the wider approach roads to Grand Canal Way around Cappincur on Wednesday to come forward.

They are especially keen to speak to anyone with footage of road users, including CCTV, dashcam, GoPro or mobile phone images.

Thousands of people attended vigils for Ms Murphy on Friday and over the weekend across the country. There was also a vigil held at the London Irish Centre in Camden on Saturday afternoon.

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Michael Tormey remembered as ‘gentle giant’ at Funeral Mass

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Michael Tormey, a father-of-three who was shot dead outside his home in Ballyfermot, Dublin, last Sunday, was remembered as a “gentle giant” during his Funeral Mass.

Mr Tormey, who had no known links to crime, was shot outside his home on Thomond Road in the early hours of the morning. The 49-year-old had worked as a security doorman and salesman.

Family, friends and other mourners gathered for his Funeral Mass in Our Lady of Assumption Church in Ballyfermot on Saturday.

Speaking at the Mass, his brother Brian described Mr Tormey as a “big teddy bear,” who was always generous. He recalled growing up how his brother had bought him his first Manchester United jersey. “I wore it to threads, I’ll always remember that,” he said.

Mick, as he was known, “loved belting out the tunes” on karaoke, his brother said. “He was nice, and he had nothing but laughter, I can’t understand why this was done,” he told those gathered.

Shauna, his daughter, also spoke about how her father loved to sing, and remembered how he “would sing Phil Collins with me until we had no voice left”.

She told mourners of memories of her father teaching her how to ride a bicycle, and roller blade in Marley Park, and of their favourite snacks.

“There was nobody else in the world who enjoyed a Meanies sandwich or a Burger Bites sandwich with me, and you’d always have room for more than one, I will always miss you, I will always love you,” she said.

Kaitlyn, his step-daughter, said when Mick came into her mother Amy’s life six years ago, he “changed our lives for the better”.

Fr Adrian Egan, who delivered the Funeral Mass, said Mr Tormey was a “gentle giant,” who did not have “a bad bone in him”. His life was “brutally” taken outside his own front door, he said.

He was known to be able to “talk for Ireland,” with a trip down to the shop taking upwards of two hours, on account of him stopping to chat with people along the way, he said.

The family had been “overwhelmed” by the support of the local community in Ballyfermot in the days after the killing, Fr Egan said.

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