Friday, November 24, 2017 | ePaper

S Korean President vows to reopen probe into 1980 massacre

  • Print


AP, Seoul :
South Korea's new liberal president vowed Thursday to reopen an investigation into the government's role in the violent suppression of a 1980 democratic uprising in the city of Gwangju that killed hundreds, as he further distanced himself from his ousted conservative predecessor.
An emotional President Moon Jae-in made the comments during an event in Gwangju marking the anniversary of the massacre, which he called the "saddest and most painful moment" in the country's recent history.
Moon is the first president to attend the anniversary in four years. Former President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee who ruled the country in the 1960s and '70s, avoided the event after attending during her first year as president in 2013.
Former military strongman Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power months after Park's death in 1979, was convicted in 1996 on a broad range of criminal charges, including bribery, treason and orchestrating the crackdown on the Gwangju protesters. He was pardoned in late 1997 and denied responsibility for the bloody crackdown in a memoir published in March, saying he never ordered his troops to fire at the protesters.
Moon wiped away tears as he listened to a speech by a daughter of one of the Gwangju victims and unexpectedly stepped up the stage as she left. In a speech, Moon promised a more thorough investigation into the actions of Chun's soldiers, including their alleged use of a military helicopter to fire with a machine gun at protesters.
"The new government will invest greater effort into fully revealing the truth surrounding the May 18 democracy movement," Moon said. "We will at any cost unveil the truth and responsibilities behind the shootings."
Government figures show about 200 people were killed during the suppression, which involved police, paratroopers and tanks dispatched by Chun, but activists say the actual toll was much higher.
Moon, a longtime human rights attorney, took office on May 10 after winning an election to replace Park, who was removed from office and arrested in March over allegations of corruption and abuse of power that could potentially send her to jail for life.
In another move that symbolized a sharp break from past conservative governments, Moon led the crowd of thousands in singing "March Song for My Dear," a 1980s protest song that became an anthem for the country's struggle toward democracy and has often been sung at protests.
All participants in the government-organized anniversary events for the Gwangju uprising had been asked to sing the song before 2008, when the government of conservative former President Lee Myung-bak ended the policy, saying the song was discomforting for people with conservative views. This left choirs to sing the song instead.

More News For this Category

Syria `congress` will boost peace talks: Putin

Syria `congress` will boost peace talks: Putin

AFP, Sochi :Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday there was a need for compromise on all sides to end Syria's civil war, announcing plans for a congress of regime and

Zimbabwe's incoming leader returns home to cheers

Zimbabwe's incoming leader returns home to cheers

AP, Harare :Poised to become Zimbabwe's next president, a former confidant of ousted leader Robert Mugabe on Wednesday promised "a new, unfolding democracy" and reached out to the world, saying

Latin America is world's most violent region for women: UN

Latin America is world's most violent region for women: UN

AFP, Panama City  :Latin America and the Caribbean is the most violent region in the world for women, the United Nations said Wednesday, highlighting Central America and Mexico as particularly

Yemen port, airport to reopen to aid: Saudi-led coalition

Yemen port, airport to reopen to aid: Saudi-led coalition

AFP, Riyadh  :The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said Wednesday it would reopen a key Red Sea port and Sanaa airport to aid, after a more than two-week blockade following

'We are totally unprepared' for artificial intelligence: Hillary

'We are totally unprepared' for artificial intelligence: Hillary

AP, Washington :Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told radio host Hugh Hewitt that humanity is "racing headfirst into a new era of artificial intelligence" without sufficient preparations of how

Ecuador again tells Assange to not meddle in other countries

Ecuador again tells Assange to not meddle in other countries

AP, Quito :Ecuador on Wednesday again urged Julian Assange to not interfere in the affairs of other countries after Spain complained about his contacts with Catalan secessionists, though the government

News In Brief

Palestinian factions agree to hold polls by end-2018Reuters, GazaPalestinian factions, including rival groups Hamas and Fatah, have agreed to hold a general election by the end of 2018, a joint

US strike in Somalia kills more than 100 Shabaab fighters

US strike in Somalia kills more than 100 Shabaab fighters

AFP, Washington :US forces conducted an air strike against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab group in Somalia on Tuesday, killing more than 100 jihadists, military officials said."In coordination with the Federal

Lebanon`s Hariri suspends resignation as PM, easing crisis

Lebanon`s Hariri suspends resignation as PM, easing crisis

Reuters, Beirut :Lebanon's Saad al-Hariri on Wednesday suspended his decision to resign as prime minister at the request of President Michel Aoun to allow for dialogue, easing a major

Trump, Putin reaffirm commitment to peacefully resolving Syrian civil war

Trump, Putin reaffirm commitment to peacefully resolving Syrian civil war

PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump today spoke over phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to peacefully resolving the Syrian civil war,