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Victims' group calls for UN probe into No Gun Ri
South Korean organization demands US apologize for mass killing, cover-up
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-29 23:42 (KST)   
SEOUL

A victims' group called Monday on the U.S. government to offer an apology to South Korea and punish those responsible for the alleged manipulation of an investigation into the U.S. Army's mass killing of South Korean refugees during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The group also urged the formation of a U.N. committee to look into the deaths, claiming it cannot trust the U.S. government, which it accused of distorting key facts in an inquiry into the killings at No Gun Ri in 1950.

"We strongly hope that France and Germany, which succeeded in coming to terms with past history, participate in the committee and an objective and transparent probe can proceed," the victims' committee said in a statement.

The demand came after a report from The Associated Pressciting a letter that a shoot-to-kill policy against refugees was known to senior U.S. government officials. In the letter dated the day of the mass killing, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea John J. Muccio informed Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk that American soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines because of fears of North Korean infiltration.

The letter is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all U.S. forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the U.S. government.

The letter reported on decisions made at a high-level meeting in South Korea on July 25, 1950, the night before the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment shot the refugees at No Gun Ri.

Estimates vary on the number of dead at No Gun Ri. American soldiers' estimates ranged from under 100 to "hundreds" dead; Korean survivors say about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Seoul, the SouthKorean capital. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, survivors say.

The Pentagon concluded that the No Gun Ri shootings were "an unfortunate tragedy"--"not a deliberate killing." It suggested panicky soldiers, acting without orders, opened fire because they feared that an approaching line of families, baggage and farm animals concealed North Korean troops.

But Muccio's letter indicates the actions of the 7th Cavalry were consistent with policy, adopted because of concern that North Koreans would infiltrate via refugee columns. And in subsequent months, U.S. commanders repeatedly ordered refugees shot, documents show.

"This report by the AP after obtaining the document ... is a decisive report that overturns the key conclusion of the U.S. Defense Department's finding and ... the No Gun Ri incident is a massacre of innocent people and constitutes a clear war crime," the victims' committee said.

The group also urged the U.S. government to acceptits responsibility for victims and compensate them, while asking the U.S. Congress to hold a hearing on the issue and pass a special law to resolve it. The group also said it would file a lawsuit against the U.S. Defense Department's research panel over its alleged manipulations and submit the issue at the U.N. Human Rights Committee.
KWANG-TAE KIM
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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