Koreans From North and South Present Evidence

Images from Tribunal Testimony: a photo album

Four minute video clip [longer version in production]

By John Catalinotto
New York

June 27, 2003--Fifty years of enforced silence were broken on June 23 when  Korean victims of U.S. war crimes finally had the chance to  tell an International War Crimes Tribunal about what had  happened to them.

Some 600 people attended the historic gathering at the  Interchurch Center of Riverside Church. Large delegations of  Koreans came from South Korea, Japan, Canada and Germany, as  well as from all over the U.S. Most evidence was presented  in Korean and English to the multinational audience.

The U.S. State Department had refused visas to a delegation  of 11 lawyers bringing evidence from the Democratic People's  Republic of Korea. The South Korean government had barred  some witnesses from boarding planes to the U.S., sparking  protests in Seoul.

Tribunal organizers saw this as proof that both Washington  and Seoul fear the impact of the truth about the U.S.'s  colonial relationship with Korea.

The testimony of victims from North Korea was presented via  videotape.

Listening intently to the evidence were over two dozen  jurists from 17 countries. Twelve of these countries  participated in the 1950-1953 war against Korea. After four  sessions of deliberating over the testimony, this jury  unanimously found the U.S. government and military guilty of  19 counts of war crimes committed against Korea from 1945  until 2001.


The tribunal was the culmination of over a year's work by  the Korea Truth Commission, which had been formed after the  exposure of U.S. atrocities against Korean civilians at No  Gun Ri during the Korean War.

The KTC enlisted the aid in the U.S. of the International  Action Center and Veterans for Peace, and the cooperation of  many other organizations internationally. Yoomi Jeong of the  KTC and Sara Flounders of the IAC co-chaired the tribunal.

Former South Korean Supreme Court Justice Byun Jung Soo and  former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark--who drafted the  original indictment against the U.S. at the KTC request-- were the chief prosecutors.

Opening the prosecution, Byun noted that "U.S. crimes have  been suppressed and covered up" and should be revealed in  detail. People from North and South Korea have come together  in the tribunal movement, he said. They hope the tribunal  work will serve as an example for those who want the  reunification of the two Koreas.

Clark pointed out that the U.S. military went into Korea in  September 1945 to "stop Soviet troops and they divided the  Korean people in half, putting into power a military  government in the south that used brutal means to eliminate  every form of sympathy with Koreans in the north."

When war broke out in 1950, the U.S. declared North Korea  "Indian Territory," Clark said. This was a racist term  meaning a free-fire zone. The invading troops killed 3.5  million civilians in three years. Washington has kept up the  "torture of economic sanctions" since.

Clark explained the KTC's decision to focus not only on the  U.S. slaughter of civilians during the 1950-1953 Korean War,  but also on the periods that preceded and followed it:  first, the repression and murder of leftists from 1945 to  1950, and later the U.S. occupation of the south and  economic sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic  of Korea in the north following the 1953 truce.


Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, legal representative of the  Partnership for Civil Justice in Washington, presented the  prosecution's brief for the 1945 to 1950 period. She  instructed the jury that during this period the U.S.  committed "crimes against peace," which were defined at  Nuremberg as the most serious of all war crimes.

As an example of the political persecution and outright  slaughter by the U.S.-backed military regime in the south  during this period, the tribunal heard the testimony of  witness Lee Do Young regarding the massacre of a quarter of  the population of Cheju Island after an uprising in the  spring of 1948. The island lies off the southern coast of  the Korean peninsula.

Lee said he was still frightened that the regime might  punish him for presenting his testimony. Indeed, Seoul  stopped some of the Cheju witnesses from coming to the  tribunal.

Lee's own father, who had worked for the rural government,  was killed later, in August 1950, for alleged participation  in the uprising on the island. His story brought up an  additional aspect--the U.S.-backed slaughter of hundreds of  thousands of leftists and activists in South Korea in the  summer of 1950.

Lee said he found one person who confessed to executing his  father, but that person's superior officer denied it.


Prosecutor Shim Jae Hwan spoke on behalf of those Koreans  killed by the U.S. military in South Korea. "The U.S.  brought in massive military force and killed innocent  people, brutalized women, young and old," Shim said. "The  U.S. must admit its crimes, apologize for them and  compensate the Korean people."

A half-dozen witnesses from South Korea then came forward to  describe U.S. atrocities. Their stories, which they had been  unable to tell for 50 years, caused many in the audience to  weep. Any criticism of the U.S. was interpreted as sympathy  with the DPRK and was punishable under the National Security  Law, so they had had to swallow their suffering in silence.

One witness told of a pond near his home village. When  drained, it yielded five truckloads of bodies. Outside the  auditorium were exhibits showing the location and details of  this and other atrocities. He said that some 3,500 people  were killed in his area.

Kang Soo Jo, who had been a young girl when she lost her  mother to the war, told of being shot in the leg. She showed  her mangled leg and foot to the audience. In fury she  demanded the U.S. either "return things to the way they were  before or give compensation for my suffering."

A man from a northern province of South Korea told of being  bombed non-stop by U.S. B-29s. "We raised South Korean flags  to say hello, but were surprised by bombs. I lost my mother  and father. Fifty-nine people were killed in that attack,"  he said, out of 450 people killed altogether in the village  and environs.

U.S. officials claimed what happened was an error, he said,  but then bombed again for 40 minutes a few days later.

An "error," was made, another survivor said, when U.S.  planes bombed and machine-gunned a boat carrying refugees  and flying the South Korean flag. Some "150 people were  killed in the bombing. Others were shot on the stairwell  trying to leave the boat."

That U.S. commanders considered these to be "errors" only  means that the attacks were meant for civilians who might be  sympathetic to the north. Either way, attacks on civilians  are war crimes.


Attorney Lennox Hinds, the permanent representative to the  United Nations of the International Association of  Democratic Lawyers, led the prosecution's presentation on  civilian massacres in the north. He also raised the U.S. use  of biological and chemical warfare.

Hinds introduced into evidence a study made in 1952 by an  eight-member delegation from his organization at the  invitation of the DPRK. This IADL study showed evidence of  mass murders, massacres and other atrocities that violated  Article 16 and Article 6A of the Nuremburg Laws, said Hinds.

It also showed that the U.S. used weapons banned by the  articles of war, including bacteriological and chemical  weapons. U.S. planes had dropped canisters containing flies  and other insects infected with plague, cholera and other  epidemic diseases. A letter was then read to the tribunal  from Stephen Endicott, whose research into declassified  documents appears in the book "The United States and  Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and  Korea."

Expert witness Anne Katrin-Becker of Germany told of U.S.- led massacres that killed one-fourth of the population of  Sinchon province--35,383 people--mostly elderly people, non- combatant women and children. In October 1950, U.S. troops  forced 900 people into a building and burned it to death,  and in another area 1,000 women were drowned.

In a video the KTC made earlier this spring in North Korea,  survivors testified of U.S. atrocities carried out against  their villages and loved ones. The crimes were similar to  those in the south, but with no pretense of "error."

Former U.S. bomber pilot Charles Overby confessed to his own  role in dropping 40 bombs each run, each with 500 pounds of  TNT, on the population of North Korea.


The fourth prosecutor, Kim Seung Kyo, addressed crimes  against humanity committed from 1953 to 2001, including  political repression, military dictatorship, U.S. troop  occupation, the infamous National Security Law that led to  charges against a million South Koreans, the torture of  political prisoners, the massacre after the 1980 Kwangju  uprising, and U.S. Air Force bombing practice at Maehyang- ri.

Ismael Guadalupe of the Committee for the Rescue and  Development of Vieques testified on the U.S. Navy's use of  his island as a bombing practice range and expressed his  solidarity with the Koreans at Maehyang-ri. The work of the  tribunal has furthered Korean-Puerto Rican solidarity.

Other presentations included IAC West Coast coordinator  Gloria La Riva on the struggle of the Daewoo workers, Sandra  Smith from Canada on the deprivations caused by sanctions,  and former German Admiral Elmar Schmaehling on U.S. plans  for a National Missile Defense.

The tribunal showed cooperation between North and South  Korean organizations, as well as solidarity of the U.S. anti- war movement with the Korean Truth Commission, which is  rooted in mass organizations in South Korea.

KTC Secretary General Rev. Kiyul Chung, Brian Willson of  Veterans for Peace and Brian Becker of the IAC ended the  presentations with political analyses of the tribunal and a  call for continued activity by all the participants to help  get U.S. troops out of Korea and allow the Koreans to  reunify their country.




The Members of the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal,  meeting in New York, having considered the Indictment for  Offenses Committed by the Government of the United States of  America Against the People of Korea, 1945-2001, which  charges all U.S. Presidents, all Secretaries of State, all  Secretaries of Defense, all Secretaries of the armed  services, all Chiefs of Staff, all heads of the Central  Intelligence Agency and other U.S. foreign intelligence  agencies, all Directors of the National Security Agency, all  National Security Advisors, all U.S. military commanders in  Korea and commanders of units which participated in war  crimes, over the period from 1945 to the present, with  nineteen separate War Crimes, Crimes Against Peace and  Crimes Against Humanity in violation of the Charter of the  United Nations, the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the  Hague Regulations of 1907, the Geneva Protocol of 1925, the  1929 and 1949 Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the  Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948,  other international agreements and customary international  law, the laws of the United States, the laws of Korea and  the laws of other nations that have been forced to provide  bases, support and military personnel for United States  actions against Korea;

having the right and obligation as citizens of the world to  sit in judgment regarding violations of international  humanitarian law;

having heard the testimony from various hearings of the  Korea Truth Commission held over the past year and having  received evidence from various other Commission hearings  which recite the evidence there gathered;

having been provided with documentary evidence, eyewitness  testimonies, photos, videotapes, special reports, expert  analyses and summaries of evidence available to the Korea  Truth Commission;

having access to all evidence, knowledge and expert opinion  in the Commission files or available to the Commission  staff;

having considered the Report from the Korean Truth  Commission (South) on U.S. War Crimes During the Korean War,  providing eyewitness accounts by survi vors of massacres of  civilians in farming villages in southern Korea by U.S.  military forces during the 1950-53 war;

having considered the Report from the Democratic People's  Republic of Korea (DPRK) on U.S. War Crimes During the  Korean War, prepared by the Investigation Committee of the  National Front for Democratic Reunification, providing  details on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed  in the north by the U.S. from June to December 1950;

having been provided by the Commission, or otherwise  obtained, various books, articles and other written  materials on various aspects of events and conditions in  Korea, and in the military and arms establishments;

having heard the presentations of the Korea Truth Commission  in public hearing on June 23, 2001, and the testimony,  evidence and summaries there presented;

having considered the testimonies of those Koreans denied  visas to personally attend the hearings by the governments  of the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK), but presented  in the form of videotaped interviews and documents;

having been informed that the Korea Truth Commission gave  ample opportunity to U.S. government defendants to attend  and present evidence in their defense, which up to the  moment of this verdict they have been unable or unwilling to  do;

and having met, considered and deliberated with each other  and with Commission staff and having considered all the  evidence that is relevant to the nineteen charges of  criminal conduct alleged in the Initial Complaint, make the  following findings:


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.

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.

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.

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 People's 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, People's 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.


The Members call for the immediate end of U.S. occupation of  all Korean territory, the removal of all U.S. bases, forces  and materiel, including land mines, from the region, the  rectification of environmental damage, and the cessation of  overt and covert operations against northern Korea.

The Members urge the immediate revocation of all embargoes,  sanctions and penalties against northern Korea because they  constitute a continuing crime against humanity.

The Members call for emergency funds to be provided to the  people of northern Korea through the Democratic People's  Republic of Korea to feed the hungry and care for the sick,  whose suffering is a direct result of U.S. policies.

The Members call for reparations to be paid by the U.S.  government to all of Korea to compensate for the damage  inflicted by 55 years of violence and economic warfare.

The Members further call for an immediate end to all  interference by the U.S. aimed at preventing the people of  Korea from reunifying as they choose.

The Members call for the U.S. government to make full  disclosure of all information about U.S. crimes and wrongful  acts committed in Korea since September 7, 1945.

The Members urge the Commission to provide for the permanent  preservation of the reports, evidence and materials gathered  to make them available to others, and to seek ways to  provide the widest possible distribution of the truth about  U.S. crimes in Korea.

We urge all people of the world to act on recommendations  developed by the Commission to hold power accountable and to  secure social justice on which lasting peace must be based.

Done in New York this 23rd day of June, 2001



Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General; Joint Chief  Prosecutor for Tribunal

Byun Jung Soo, former Korea Supreme Court Justice; Joint  Chief Prosecutor for Tribunal

Lennox Hinds, U.S., UN Permanent Representative,  International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, U.S., Legal Representative,  Partnership for Civil Justice

Shim Jae Hwan, South Korean Legal Team for the Korea Truth  Commission

Kim Seung Kyo, South Korean Legal Team for the Korea Truth  Commission


Jitendra Sharma, India, former Supreme Court Justice

Brian Willson, U.S., lawyer and Vietnam Veteran


Malcolm Cannon, Australia, lifelong peace and anti-war  activist

Miche Doumen, Belgium, spokesperson for Solidarity  International

Sandra Smith, Canada, People's Front

Judi Cheng, Chinese American activist; graduate student at Hunter College School for Health Science

Gustavo Torrez, Colombia, human rights activist and  Executive Director, Casa de Maryland

Guy Dupre, France, President, International Liaison  Committee for Peace and Reunification of Korea

Hugo Bernard, France, former Senator, French National  Assembly

Wolfgang Richter, Germany, President of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity, e.v. GBM

Benjamin Dupuy, Haiti, former Haitian Ambassador to U.S. &  UN

Hari P. Sharma, India, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Simon Fraser University

Oh Jong Ryul, Korea, National President, National Alliance  for Democracy and Reunification of Korea (prevented from  leaving South Korea by Seoul government)

Yun Young Moo, Korea, former Korean Independence fighter; lifelong reunification activist

Catherine Dujon, Luxemburg, International Section, Anti-Imperialist League

Ben Fama, Netherlands, son of Dutch Korean War veteran who opposed the war

Margaret Sanner, Norway, Women's Front of Norway

Edre Olalia, Philippines, Legal Consultant to the National  Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel

Arnedo Valera, Philippines, Legal Consultant to the National  Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel

Berta Joubert-Ceci, Puerto Rico, Vieques activist; National People's Campaign

Jorge Farinacci, Puerto Rico, Senior Legal Council to the Puerto Rican labor movement

Gail Coulson, South Africa, Executive Secretary, Asia  Pacific Desk, General Board of Global Ministries, UMC

Dundak Gurses, Turkey, lawyer, International Association of People's Lawyers

Charles Overby, U.S., professor, University of Ohio; author; retired U.S. Air Force pilot

Deirdre Griswold, U.S., Editor, Workers World newspaper; Secretariat member of 1967 Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal

Felton May, U.S., Resident Bishop at Baltimore-Washington Conference of United Methodist Church

Karen Talbot, U.S., Journalist; President, International  Center for Peace and Justice

Wilson Powell, U.S. Korean War veteran

Milos Raickovich, Yugoslavia, internationally renowned  composer


Share this page with a friend

International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011

En Espanol:
Support Mumia Abu-Jamal:
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889

a donation to the IAC and its projects


The International Action Center
Home     ActionAlerts    Press