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The May 18 Martyrs Struggle for Justice with Corpses Found in Gwangju
Date : 2020-01-03     Hit : 380

The May 18 Martyrs Struggle for Justice with Corpses Found in Gwangju

 

The May 18 Democratic Uprising is known as a brutal massacre in the history of South Korea. This heart-rending incident began when dictator General Chun Doo-hawns paratroopers entered the city of Gwangju and mercilessly cracked down on the innocent students and citizens of Gwangju who were demonstrating against martial law and the lack of democracy in 1980. 

 

The assassination of General Park Chung-hee by his intelligence chief kindled democratic aspiration in Gwangju and all over Korea. The students and people of Gwangju peacefully took to the streets and had a torch light procession at night and fiercely chanted to end martial law in Korea, release Kim Dae-Jung, and demanded democracy in Korea. However, the paratroopers ordered by General Chun horrifyingly committed brutal torture and massacre against pro-democracy demonstrations and the peaceful citizens of Gwangju that resulted in a citizens uprising in Gwangju. Furthermore, it also included an assault on the prison in Gwangju and more deaths, as the army stormed the City Hall of Gwangjuon May 27, 1980 and massacred those who stood up against them. General Chun and the martial law army fabricated lies and mendacious propaganda against the May18 Democratic Uprising and called it communist riots in Gwangju. The nature of the propaganda, the brutality of the regime, and the fake news forced silence among the people of Gwangju and all over Korea. However, the people of Korea never abandoned their aspiration for democracy.

 

The June Struggle by students forced the General Chun regime to set up democratic reforms in Korea, and the peoples aspirations obliterated General Chuns regime. In 1995 the Korean government officially honoured the Gwangju demonstrations as "The May 18 Democratic Uprising". Furthermore, in 1996 General Chun was sentenced to death. However, later he was pardoned in the name of national reconciliation by President Kim Young-sam, based on advice from then-president-elect Kim Dae-Jung. The Gwangju Massacre will remain a sad incident and an open wound in South Korean history.

 

Recently, General Chun again appearedin the news when he was accused of defamation, after mocking Pius Cho, the late Catholic priest who testified that soldiers massacred citizens of Gwangju by using helicopters during the May 18 Uprising. A biography published by General Chun called the late Cho "Satan" and "shameless liar"and denied all of his atrocities. General Chun remarks hurt the feelings of the late Chos family and they accused General Chun of defamation at a law court in Gwangju where he failed to appear due to his suffering from alzheimers disease. However, Korean media showed Gen Chun playing golf and having an expensive dinner in a restaurant that caused an uproar in Korea. 

 

Lately, Gwangju again appeared in the news on December 20, 2019 when the mysterious human remains of 40 bodies were discovered at the former Gwangju prison. The identities are unknown of those 40 corpses. However, discovery of 40 unidentified human remains raises speculation, pain, and grief in the city of Gwangju. Civil society activist from Gwangju also stated that the human remains may belong to the May 18 Uprising martyrs who went missing during the brutal military crackdown in May 1980. Besides, the remains may belong to death-row inmates without family or friends who had been jailed there.


 

 

But the possibility can hardly beruled out that the remains may be related to those who went missing in 1980. According to the news 111 remains recorded in the former Gwangju prisons management register were identified, but there is no record of the 40 newly discovered remains. Furthermore, the Gwangju Pro May 18 Uprising Civil Society remains cautious, stating that they would be very cooperative with the DNA tests.

 

According to the Gwangju Metropolitan City Government around 242 people have been registered as missing due to the deadly military crackdown on the May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980. Hundreds of beavered families of the May 18 Uprising martyrs live with constant grief and psychological trauma as their loved one are still missing.


 

 

Therefore, it is essential that the government should expedite the DNA investigation to find the real truth behind the newly discovered 40 remains at the former Gwangju prison. Moreover, the government must conduct an impartial and fair investigation so the suffering and agony of the May 18 bereaved families can end. Furthermore, this investigation will heal the suffering of the May 18 missing victim’s families who are waiting for justice.

 


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