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Overview of Genocides before and after the Korean War

Gang Jeong-gu
Department of Sociology, Dongguk University

I. Introduction*1)

When seeing the separated families in South and North Korea who sob their heart
out in Mt. Geumgang for reasons to hard to tell, most of us are sore at heart and
drenched with tears as if they are our events. But we do not know about many people
who envy their possibility of meeting even if many years have passed, thinking of their
tragically killed families with tears. They are the families of nearly one million
genocide victims before and after the Korean War. The genocide issue remains as the
acutest one of the scars of our division and war. Furthermore its truth has not been
inquired properly even until today after 50 years and just remains as a deep grudge
harbored against the bereaved families. Moreover most important is that this genocide
was mostly initiated by the Korean government, not by North Korea.
The purpose of this article is to summarize genocide before and after the Korean
War that is estimated as more than one million victims and to help people understand
this horrible and acute scar more easily. In this way, this author expects that much
sympathy will be gained to contribute to a delayed clearance of the past.

Note 1)This article was printed in the Year 2003 issue of 『Kill Everything, Sweep
Away Everything: A Brief Record of Genocide before and after the Korean War』,
published by the Pan-National Committee for Inquiring the Truth of Genocide before
and after the Korean War.

II. Meaning of genocide

In this article, genocide means 'an innocent killing act committed just for reason or
suspicion of the leftists, the rightists, or group members(including family) of taking
sides with Reds without any threat'. It excludes killing in time of war, but execution by
justice is included in genocide. This definition is restricted within a killing act of Helen
Payne's broad sense of redefinition of genocide: "an act continued by an offender in
spite of victims' surrender or without their threat for the purpose of destroying the

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group's body directly or indirectly through suspending group members' biological or


social rebirth." But I reject a socially accepted idea of categorizing the innocent people
in exclusion of red guerrillas, connecting guerrillas, and the Protection and Guidance
League members, and define that those having socialism or communism ideology
cannot be excluded from the category of the innocent people, expanding the category of
the innocent people to civilian.
『Korea Police History』divides those taking sides with reds into four categories:
1)Active elements doing ideological fairness and practice together; 2)Passive
communist elements having anti-governmental sentiment; 3)Passive elements following
the general tendency blindly and 4)Passive elements joining passively under the
pression. Classifying those having anti-governmental sentiment as those taking sides
with Reds reflects straightforwardly how police defined a Red and those joining Reds
arbitrarily at that time. Although fallen under these four categories, such possession of
ideological orientation itself may not be guilt or a reason of killing unless they commit a
crime coming under the necessary conditions of a criminal offense.

III. Genocide of civilian, not the innocent people

Up to the present, we have used a wrong concept of the massacre of the innocent
people rather than civilian genocide that is commonly used in other countries. The
reason to use the massacre of the innocent people firmly is to emphasize that victims
killed such as in Geochang Genocide all were 'the innocent people' sacrificed innocently
without any fault or guilt. But in the concept of universal human rights, this distinction
cannot be tolerated. There is a tacit sympathy on its foundation that the innocent people
must not be killed, but other people, especially Reds, may be killed.
Even if fault or crime committed is very grave, it can be a very serious act that
violates human rights by governmental violence even in time of war unless it is not put
on formal trial in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, primitive violence by a state
that 'Reds may be killed' was rampant in South Korea before and after the Korean War.
Although it cannot be helped to admit the National Security Law, a bad anti-democratic
law, it is a criminal act to kill or punish arbitrarily without dealing with in accordance
with the pertinent law.
We should take account of the National Security Law. Freedom of thought and
ideology is a natural right. People cannot be punished by the National Security Law.
As long as they do not commit a criminal offense, they should not be punished. But
hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the Korean government because they

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were or were suspected of Reds without formal court procedure. In a way in the 21st
century, it urgently needs to inquire the truth of criminal act and bury the past. Many
people connected with genocide will get old or die of a disease, and then the truth of
genocide close to one million people will be covered up in history without finding out
any truth.

IV. The origin of genocide

Why did a tremendous criminal act of genocide happen? It originated in the


division of the Korean Peninsula and the Korean War developed after liberation. If
America had not divided Korea into the 38th parallel by force, would the Korean War
have broken out? If the Korean War had not broken out, would the crime of genocide
have happened? The answer would be absolutely 'No'. For these reasons, the origin of
genocide goes back to America that divided Korea after liberation. In other words, if
America had not intervened in Korea's domestic affairs, national division, the Korean
War, and genocide all would have never happened. It is certain that the Soviet Union
was somewhat responsible, but the absolute responsibility rests with America as CNN
revealed after the South-North June 15 Joint Declaration.
However it is open to question why this kind of thing happened in Korea although
the division initiated by America always may not bring about genocide. Moreover,
although Korea was divided into the South and the North due to division and both had
war, a question arises why South Korea, so called a democratic country, committed
much more genocide than North Korea.
America's occupation, American military administration, and the legitimacy of the
Lee Seung-man Administration form the basis of these questions. In other words, since
the government had no legitimacy, people's voluntary support was poor, and thereby the
government had to govern a people by force. To stay in power, the government had to
use governmental violence cruelly. In reality, such a cruel violence was resorted at the
beginning of American military administration and continued to the Lee Seung-man
Administration.
Immediately after liberation, America occupied the half of Korea and tried every
possible means to control the whole Korea. When a situation went contrary to their
wishes, they attempted to control even its half through division. To do this, America
imposed military rule on South Korea, appointed a large number of pro-Japanese
groups, and adopted intactly most laws and systems used by Japanese colony to rule
Korea. Consequently, the police who were the strongest under the American military

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administration were exclusively occupied by pro-Japanese groups and their oppression


rose to a climax. To rise against the American military administration's policy that
schemed to divide Korea and succeeded to vestiges of Japanese imperialism, the
October Uprising was raised in 1946 with its center on Daegu. As a result, there was
the first genocide that many people were sacrificed before the violence of America
military administration.
Then America enforced May 10 election that had only in South Korea in 1948 in
the name of UN and made progress the plan to divide Korea. To stop a national division
initiated by America, February 7 Save-the-Nation Drive was raised in 1948, followed by
Jeju April 3 Uprising. In Jeju, at least 30,000-40,000 residents were killed. It shows
that we had already experienced genocide under the American military administration.
It is natural that such governmental violence would be continued in the Lee Seung-man
Administration who took over the American military administration's policy of violence
entirely.
Furthermore, since May 10 Exclusive Election that had the Lee Seung-man
Administration departed ran counter to the universal principle of election that aims at
building a government newly by people's free choice and intended to conclude division,
it was not supported by the people. Accordingly, only 10% of 400 political and social
groups(40) joined in the election: all leftist and moderate(including Kim Gyu-sik)
political and social groups and most rightist political and social groups(including Kim
Gu's Provisional Government in Shanghai) viewed the May 10 Election for
Constitutional Assembly to depart Korean government as division election and therefore
rejected participation. Thus only some groups joined in the election, resulting in a lame
election of 10%: the Hanmin Party of pro-Japanese party and the ruling party under the
American military administration, Lee Seung-man's Independence Promotion Society,
organized groups of gangsters(including Seobuk Youth Group), and anti-communist
groups.
Having such a process and departing under the wing of the American military
administration, the Lee Seung-man Administration had ecological limitation that could
not be supported by the people. In addition, because it took over intactly the American
military administration's policy such as division, American-style capitalism(according to
a public-opinion poll at that time, Korean people wanted socialism and communism in
77% and capitalism only in 14%), appointing pro-Japanese groups and traitors to the
nation, oppressing unification power, suppressing the people such as laborers, it could
not enjoy real legitimacy. With the Yeosu and Suncheon Uprising as a turning point, the
Lee Seung-man Administration made the National Security Law on Dec. 1, 1948. As

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many as 110,000 persons were arrested or detained and the Protection and Guidance
League with over 300,000 members were established to oppress totally freedom of
residence, movement, and ideology. In this way, governmental violence became
rampant even under the Lee Seung-man Administration just as under the American
military administration.
The Korean War broke out in such a situation and the Lee Seung-man
Administration faced a life-or-death crisis. Since the government without legitimacy
was not supported by the people, they tried to maintain their power only with the use of
force and thereby groups or peoples suspected or hindered in them all were killed on the
pretext of an emergency situation. Besides, the nature of the military and the police
supporting the government brought about increased genocide.
Because the military and the police mostly were filled with pro-Japanese groups or
traitors to the nation, they were destined to be punished as the first cleanup subject. It is
more likely for them to commit genocide for their survival. Although America who
were transferred the wartime operational control from the Lee Seung-man
Administration should control over genocide committed by the military and the police,
they took the initiative in genocide such as Nogeun-ri Genocide and therefore genocide
got increased more and more.
In conclusion, immoral crime of genocide has its origin in the American military
administration's policy of Korea occupation and continued by the Lee Seung-man
Administration without legitimacy during the Korean War. Most of them were
increased and committed by pro-Japanese groups and traitors to the nation who made up
the government. Also although America assumed the ultimate responsibility of
genocide committed by the military and the police as a operational controller, they
neglected and even helped their acts and made situation worse. It is true that genocide
was committed by others such as American soldiers joining in the Korean War, North
Korea People's Army, local leftists, or civilian ideologic groups. Also a massacre was
conducted in North Korea by the U.S. army and the Korean army for about 40 days
when North Korea was occupied. But their scale or extent was much lower than the Lee
Seung-man Administration's systematic genocide, so detailed discussion will be
omitted.

V. Types and features of genocide

Genocide reaches as many as one million in number and its range is from the Jeju
April 3 Uprising to the Korean War in a period; from leftist and rightist people of all

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ages and both sexes to ordinary people not belonging in both parties in victim; from the
U.S. army to civilians in offender; from the South and the North, to mountain and field
and river and sea in place, and from execution by shooting to spearing, beheading, water
burial, and burying alive in a means to kill. This author divides such complicated
genocide into several types for analysis and examines their feature by type as follows.
The analysis by type targets genocide committed in South Korea. Regarding North
Korea, general aspects will be presented descriptively rather than analyzed by type, but
some analysis by type will be tried as long as materials allow.

1. Genocide by period

1)Genocide in time of small war


Small-scale killing happened immediately after the American military
administration began. However, we may consider that systematic, intentional, and
serious genocide began with 'small war' of the February 7 Save-the-Nation Struggle in
1948 that declared an armed strife officially in order to stop national division and
establish unified nation by frustrating the May 10 Exclusive Election. Since then, as
many as 30,000-40,000 persons were killed during the Jeju April 3 Uprising, followed
by genocide of the Yeosu and Suncheon Uprising in October 1948 under the American
military administration and the Lee Seung-man Administration. Before the Korean War,
genocide happened extensively in the name of liquidating red guerrillas around Mt. Jiri
where guerrilla warfare became serious, including Yeosu, Suncheon, Gurye, Gokseong,
and Gwangyang. During the Gyeonbyeokcheongya Operation(one tactic of blocking
the supply of food) used in the course of serious cleanup operation of guerrilla units,
residents living in the mountains such as Mungyeong were mainly killed.

2)Genocide early in the Korean War


America started aerial bombing immediately after the Korean War broke up and
many people in Iri Station were killed. While the U.S. army involved seriously in war,
genocide in Nogreun-ri was developed. Most terrible was to kill members of the
Protection and Guidance League. From June, as many as 200,000 members out of
300,000 may be killed nationwide. It was a false accusation that caused a vicious circle
of genocide thereafter. It is thought that Lee Seung-man directly intervened in this
genocide. Then during war, those who were suspected of Reds or not cooperative to the
military and the police were killed or detained in the name of pre-arrest. In addition,
convicted or unconvicted prisoners were killed together in this course.

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Initial genocide of the Protection and Guidance League members made the loop of
chain genocide, and then the military, the police, government employees, and their
family were killed by genocide victims' families in the place occupied by North Korea.
With the North Korean People's Army's occupation, pro-American groups, reactionary
elements, and traitors to the nation were killed.

3)Genocide late in the Korean War


When Seoul was recovered on Sept. 28, 1950, the battle front was moved into
North Korea, and the war entered the last stage, genocide were committed both in South
and North Korea. First of all, retreating North Korean soldiers killed rightists or bad
reactionary elements in prison. Then returned Korean army killed those supporting the
North Korean People's Army and families of those killed by leftists made a reprisal.
Genocide in the second battle line was committed in the course of punitive operation in
mountain areas such as Mt. Jiri where partisans worked greatly. When the Chinese
army participated in the war, the National Defense Force was organized hurriedly and
its 50,000 military men were killed by starvation and disease. In North Korea, the U.S.
army and the Korean military and police killed many civilians for 40 days when they
occupied. After the war came to a lull, serious genocide were committed by the U.S.
army's scorched-land operation.

4)Genocide committed in North Korea in a brief period of tranquility


In early summer in 1951, the battle line went through a brief period of tranquility
between the 38th parallel. Although land war came to a lull, the U.S. army continued
air laid or shelling from a warship and many residents in the rear, not the front line,
were killed. In Wonsan, the largest city in the east coast, the United States Navy
continued bombing 1 minute before a cease-fire agreement was concluded. It was the
longest encircling attack(861 days) in its history. As a result, hundreds of thousands of
people were killed. It is known that the total dead would reach 12-15% of population in
North Korea including those shot in combat.

2. Genocide by offender

Genocide offenders can be divided roughly into two: the U.S. army, the Korean
army, the police, and irregular army such as Seobuk Youth Group in South Korea side
and general occupation agencies including the North Korean People's Army, partisans,

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and local leftists in North Korea side. Let us look at the aspects or features of genocide
by offender.
The main target of genocide committed by the U.S. army was refugees, and they
used machine-gunning to kill them in South Korea. As in Nogeun-ri, sometimes they
regarded refugees as an enemy and machine-gunned directly. Genocide happened
largely around the battle front early in the war, while concentrated in North Korea late
in the war. In North Korea, barbarous and direct genocide was committed for 40 days
when the U.S. army, and the Korean army occupied and unspecified residents were
killed in the last stage of the war by getting burnt throughout the North Korea, bombing
indiscriminately. The U.S. army's genocide is characterized by the combination of
racialism.
The Korean army committed genocide in both the front and the rear. Those who
were suspected of leftist were mainly killed through pre-arrest by the military and the
police in the southern battle line in the early stage. In the last stage, many residents
living in mountain areas, centering on Mt. Jiri, were killed in the second battle line
while 11th Division liquidated guerilla units. This genocide went back to before the
Korean War. As confirmed before, since 11th Division's operation order regarded all
residents in the mountains as their enemy, genocide must be expected in respect of
structure. Genocide in the rear started with the Protection and Guidance League
members. While the Counter Intelligence Corps ferreted those taking side with Reds,
red guerrillas, or connecting guerrillas all over the nation, many innocent people were
killed. In particular, indiscriminate killing was anticipated, considering that General
Kim Chang-ryong ordered to sacrifice 10 persons if one Red could be killed. His
suspicion of killing tens of thousands people in Busan after arresting three times may be
true.
As mentioned earlier, the police had to submit to their fate in anti-Communism
because they worked as the Japanese army or police under the Japanese Imperialism,
just as the military. They committed the same genocide as the military. But they also
committed greatly personal killing or acts of brutality as well as genocide. Their
foundation of arbitrary killing or acts of brutality was Lee Sung-man's 'Special Measure
Order'.
Genocide committed by irregular army was mainly directed by vigilante corps or
security corps in every region, including Seobuk Youth Group, Ganghwa Homeland
Defense Commando, who was reported to kill more than 2,300 persons, Taegeuk
Corps(rightist students secret society) leading Goyang Geumjeonggul Genocide that
killed 1,000 residents, and Minbo Corps in Wolseogn-gun, Geyongbuk(Leader Lee

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Hyeop-u). As Seobuk Youth Group gained a bad name for their barbarity and
unlawfulness in the Jeju April 3 Uprising, their ill repute was well-known as the military
or the police. For example, Lee Hyeop-u, mentioned above, got a false report of
supporting reds on July 7, 1949, killed the Kim Ha-jung family(8 members) who mostly
consisted of children, and took their property of 100 patches of rice paddy. He
committed many murders and incendiarism, and plundered people's property. Victims
reached two million. He was nominated by the Liberal Party and elected for the third
term, but was sentenced to death after the April 19 Revolution. Genocide committed by
irregular army mostly aimed at extorting property or female matter.
Genocide offenders in the North Korea side include governmental bodies centering
on the North Korean People's Army, partisans, and local leftists. As reviewed
previously, governmental bodies centering on the North Korean People's Army decided
execution of reactionary elements according to judicial process in accordance with
North Korean Law. Also they officially ordered to prohibit acts of brutality. However,
when they retreated after Incheon Landing Operation, law, judgment, or temperate
execution did not observed and many rightists put in prisons or kindergartens were
killed. Since most local leftists were victims in genocide of the Protection & Guidance
members, they committed killing, leaning to retaliatory feeling immediately after the
North Korean People's Army occupied. Although partisans controlled killing or acts of
brutality, compared to a punitive force, they involved in genocide in the mountains
reportedly.
North Korea showed controlled behavior in the level of governmental bodies, but
local leftists or partisans revealed barbarity or unlawfulness more. On the other hand, in
South Korea, such governmental authority as the military or the police disclosed just as
unlawful barbarous, fabricated, and indiscriminative characteristics as irregular army.
The number of victim committed by North Korea, although we admit 129,000 that
government announced officially, is much less than that committed by South Korean
government or irregular army.

3. Genocide by victim

Victims may be divided into the Protection and Guidance League members in
Pyeongtaek and southward, prisoners, residents around the second battle line, refugees,
suspects of taking sides with the Reds, red guerrillas, suspects of connecting guerrilla,
or unspecified civilians without any suspicion by the Korean army's questioning or
house search.

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Since genocide of the Protection and Guidance League members was committed
nationwide at a similar period by order of the highest -ranking officials of the Lee
Seung-man Administration, it was the largest and most systematic genocide committed
frist after the Korean War, reaching 200,000 - 250,000. It became the apple of
retaliatory killing and contributed to consecutive murder.
As identified in 1,800-victim genocide in Deajeon Prison, prisoners were killed
nationwide by order of the highest-ranking officials. It is estimated that their number
reaches 20,000, but if the unconvicted are included, 10,000-20,000 will be added. Their
genocide were mostly committed by the military or the police.
Most refugees were killed by the U.S. army, but some North Korean refugees were
killed by the military or the police. Since these always became the target of the military,
the police, or irregular army as suspects of taking sides with Reds, they were killed with
guilt.
Residents in the second battle line were always killed, being accusing of red
guerrillas, connecting guerrillas, or suspects of taking sides with Reds. According to the
operation order of the 11th Division, residents living in the mountains all regarded as
connecting guerrillas and were the target of execution by shooting. It is estimated that
their victim was bigger than the Protection and Guidance League members.
Victims by leftists were reactionary elements according to their classification,
including pro-Japanese groups, pro-American groups, and traitors to the nation and they
had no the right to vote. Also the police, members of the Anti-Communism League,
branch head of the National Society, and the military's family were included. According
to South Korean government's announcement, official victims reach 129,000.
In North Korea, hundreds of thousands of unspecified people were killed
throughout the whole region due to the U.S. army's "Scorched-Land Operation".
During their occupation for 40 days, people working for the Labor Party or
governmental bodies and leftist suspects were mostly killed. According to North
Korea's official announcement, they reach 172,000.

4. Genocide by act type of and its barbarity

The act types of genocide include execution by shooting, burying alive, scorched-
land operation, water burial, beheading by Japanese sword, starving to death, beating to
death, and bombing or machine-gunning. Scorched-land operation and machine-
gunning were mostly used by the U.S. army. The U.S. army tried machine-gunning
from the Jeju April 3 Uprising and in reality about 130 villages were scorched. Punitive

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forces including the 11th Division killed many innocent people by scorched-land
operation, named Gyeonbyeokcheongya. Water burial was mostly used in the coast
such as Busan or Tongyeong. Beheading by a Japanese sword was used habitually by
pro-Japanese groups serving in the Japanese army and police such as Kim Jong-won to
display retaliation or barbarity.
Genocide itself is the expression of brutality, but there are many examples which
show extreme barbarity beyond imagination. This author will present such examples in
order to illustrate how genocide committed under the Korean War, especially by Lee
Seung-man Administration reflected the characteristic of dirty war. The barbarity here
is based on humane and moral standards. War brings about barbarity and tragedy
greatly and in particular this kind of barbarity is focused on weak women, children, or
the elderly.
First, let us look at barbarity related to rape or outrage on women. A woman
teacher accused of the leftist side was outraged and buried secretly with pretty and
young women. Her legs were cut. In Chungmu and Tongyeong, military police officers
buried 800 women and men at sea, accusing them of Reds in order to cover up their
plunder on women. At that time, they took man and women to a warehouse and beat
them with their clothes stripped. In Gangseok-ri, Daegang-myeon, Namwon-gun, the
205th Unit of the 11th Division killed 60 villagers, pulled out 7 women, and stabbed
their necks, breasts, and even genitals widely. Then 19 villagers were beheaded by a
Japanese sword. Kim Jeom-dong stroke down necks twice by a Japanese sword, but
they did not die. He stroke down again, saying that "Mean boys! Why were your necks
so tough?". In Buk-myeon, Changwon-gun, Hwang Gwang-su, Admiral of the Navy
Intelligence Corps, killed 60 villagers and refugees, accusing them of Reds. A child
implored for his life, but he stoke him down by a Japanese sword. He also stabbed
women's breasts and cut their legs and arms. Yu Hae-in, head of Sinchang Police Box
in Asan-gun, trifled a woman in village and had his man trifled her again, and made a
woman in the leftist side as a mistress.
Let us look at unethical and immoral acts that are beyond conception as a human.
A typical example was Kim Jong-wan who was former Japanese army and was in Lee
Seung-man's favor. He gained the worst name before and after the Korean War. He
enjoyed beheading by a Japanese sword around Yeosu. On May 6, 1950 before the
Korean War broke out, he led Baekgol Corps to the sea at Gujo-ri, Ilun-myeon,
Geojedo. He drew up 1,000 villagers in cold water for one hour. He selected difficult
relations such as woman and her husband's father and man and his wife's mother, and
ordered them to slap each other's cheek. If they did not slap hard, he hit them

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repeatedly by butt plate or club. Such 'slapping' or 'carrying' was very common. In
Jeju, a punitive force brought villagers together and ordered men to carry their sons'
wives on their backs. Or they ordered grandfathers and their grandsons to stand face to
face and slap each other's cheek. Sometimes, when they shot people dead, they let
people stand in front of their family and ordered the family to give cheers, seeing their
fallen family.
In Tongyeong, the military put tens of innocent villagers into a warehouse, pressed
them to have sex, and finally buried them at sea. A senior master sergeant revealed his
unethical barbarity in an interview with me. He ordered a man and his younger
brother's wife to get out of their clothes and have sex, and rolled them up in a straw lug.
Such brutal acts was already reported in Jeju. The military forced unmarried men and
women or men and their wives' mothers to have sex in front of people, and shot them
dead. In Wando, the police killed a man and forced his mother to go round a village
with his liver in her mouth. This grandmother followed the police' order and was
sentenced to thirteen years. After serving her time for 7-8 years, she was released but
died after several months.
Such unethical acts do not occur just because of the Korean War. It was
anticipated well enough when pro-Japanese groups or traitors to the nation who were
tainted with the liquidating human rights of Japanese militarism took the reins of South
Korean government under the wing of the American military administration who
adopted anti-Communism as a top priority. As described in Japan Diary written by
Mark Gain, the police committed similar acts of brutality under the American military
administration. Even before the Korean War, punitive forces' barbarity was common
event as see in the Jeju April 3 Uprising and the Yeosu Uprising. But it happened more
frequently in a big way after the Korean War.

5. Comparison of South Korea with North Korea in genocide

This author will compare South and North Korean government in genocide policy
and present contrastive characteristics found generally. The comparison will be
restricted within fragmentary limits such as quantitative scale, court procedure, and
government's official policy.
Let us look at quantitative comparison. Reportedly, genocide in South Korea
reaches one million persons by the Lee Seung-man Administration, and 129,000 by
leftists. But it seems to be somewhat overstated. We cannot know the scale of genocide
committed by the U.S. army exactly. Considering Nogeun-ri genocide and other 60

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cases, it reaches 2,400. But since it is very difficult to grasp its scale because it is hard
to let people know in case of killing by the U.S. army's bombing, and killed residents
have not reported due to urbanization, industrialization, aging, or their death.
In North Korea, according to official announcement, the U.S. army and the Korean
army killed 172,000 residents for their 40-day occupation period. There is no evidence
of genocide committed by the North Korean Peoples' Army and the Chinese army. The
American army's circumstantial logic that genocide was necessary for unavoidable
circumstances makes no sense, compared with the Chinese army. Jeon Chung-nim's
sister, who searches for many dispersed family members, said that the Chinese army
rarely talked with women due to strict military discipline. But they got along with
children. We could not find the cruelty showed in the Chiang Kai-shek army in
Manchuria."
In the last stage of a war, North Korea had great genocide due to the U.S. army's
scorched-land operation. As shown earlier, the number of victims is estimated hundreds
of thousands of people, considering that 2/3 of 20 residents were killed by the U.S.
army's brutal bombing in Sinuiju.
In governmental official policy, South Korea's 'Special Measures Order' and talk
about Geochang Incidence, and the 11th Division's operation order can be regarded as
the original cause that made genocide prevalent. In North Korea, it was provided in
quarter instructions that pro-Japanese groups, pro-American groups, or bad reactionary
elements should be punished in accordance with North Korean Law and judgement. In
this sense, their genocide may be controlled. But when they are retreated, it did not
observed well. In case of those who took sides with the U.S. army and the Korean
Army for 40-day occupation period, their punishment was very different from South
Korea. They were punished 3-month, 6-month, or keeping indoors according to the
level of cooperation, but intemperate retaliatory killing such as genocide was very rare.
Although most genocide was committed by governmental power, the difference
between South and North Korea is very big in its legality, barbarity, or intensity. If
South Korea may be referred to as runway genocide, North Korea may be referred to as
somewhat controlled genocide.
In case of a war, it is highly probable to commit genocide in the personal level.
More important is how these criminal acts were encouraged and connived
systematically by official groups. North Korea officially appealed to the world for
America's 'criminal acts' and asked them to investigate the truth openly. Finally
international investigation has been conducted. On the other hand, America and South

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Korea denounced the genocide or treacherous act by North Korea but have never asked
international-level investigation.
This difference may be caused by several factors. It is certain that the Korean
army's origin that mostly consisted of former Japanese military and the North Korean
army's origin that mostly consisted of anti-Japanese guerrillas are one of important
determinants

"Burma's Current Human Rights Situations"

Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime, the so-called State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC). On 27 May, 1990, there was a free and fair election, the first
time within three decades under the military predecessors in Burma. The National League for
Democracy party (NLD) won a landslide victory by winning over 80 % of parliamentary seats
in the election. But the military regime refused to honour the results of the 1990 election that
overwhelmingly elected the NLD, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; she herself was placed under
house-arrest in 1989 to prevent her from contesting the election.

Since 1995, when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from the first house arrest, she and
NLD have consistently been calling for political dialogue with the military regime to solve
Burma's problems peacefully. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrested a second
time in the year 2000. She was released from house-arrest in May 2002.
On 30 May, 2003, NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party members were brutally
attacked by the regime and its thugs near Depayin, northern Burma. The regime's horrific attack
killed scores of people, wounded many more, and resulted in the imprisonment of Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi and many members of the NLD. The NLD party offices were shut down and
political party functions banned. The Depayin attack was the start of a nationwide crackdown.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrested.
The bloody Depayin incident was one of the most heinous state-managed terrorist acts and one
of the most savage crimes in Burma. Evidence indicates that the attack was premeditated, with

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involvement of the regime. It was a crime against humanity. The regime has ignored calls for a
full investigation into the murderous attack. Effective measures to bring the perpetrators to
justice are still lacking.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Sergio Pinheiro issued a comprehensive report to the UN
Commission on Human Rights on 5 January, 2004, in which he stated that " From what he
[Pinheiro] heard and saw during his mission and based on eyewitness testimonies, [he is]
convinced that there is prima facie evidence that the Depayin incident could not have happened
without the connivance of State agents".

International condemnation of the SPDC over the Depayin incident remained high and pressure
mounted on the Burmese generals. On 30 August 2003, in the wake of intensified international
pressure against the Burmese military regime, the newly appointed Prime Minister General
Khin Nyunt unveiled a 7-point 'road map'to democracy. According to Khin Nyunt, the SPDC
road map will reconvene the stalled 1993 National Convention.

The original Convention started in 1993 and was aborted in 1996. The NLD was expelled from
that previous national convention when it questioned the lack of freedom of speech, freedom of
debate and discussion and freedom of expression. Moreover, the military regime issued a
notorious law in 1996 that whoever critized the national convention could be punished with up
to twenty years imprisonment. For instance, a group of students have reportedly received
sentences ranging from 7 to 17 years imprisonment for distributing leaflets criticizing the road
map and the National Convention, UN special Rapporteur reported to UN Commission on
Human Rights on 26 March 2004.

Moreover again, the convention commission will be made up only of SPDC officials, who will
completely control the agenda and procedures. The junta's hand-picked delegates are expected
to approve 104 constitutional principles laid down in 1996. Those principles include setting
aside 25 % of parliamentary seats for the military and total autonomy for the military. Clearly,
the SPDC's version of national convention will continue to be a disaster for Burma.

The military regime continues to ignore the UN resolutions adopted in previous years by the
General Assembly and relevant bodies. It blatantly ignores the efforts of the United Nations
Secretary General and his envoy to facilitate a national reconciliation process in Burma.

Systematic violations of human rights, including arbitrary killing, rape, looting, force relocation
and destruction of villagers continue, particularly in the ethnic border area where military

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offensives are launched against ethnic nationalities. The Burmese people continue to be held
hostage under the military's corrupt, brutal, inhumane, and undemocratic policies.

The regime uses rape as a tool of terror to brutalize women, especially women who belong to
our ethnic nationalities. In May 2002, the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) and Shan
Women's Action Network (SWAN) documented that the Burmese Army use rape as a systematic
weapon of war against the ethnic populations in Shan State. The report described 173 incidents
of rape or sexual violence against 625 women and girls committed by soldiers from 52 military
battalions between 1992 and 2001.

The junta is also responsible for creating the world's largest army of child soldiers. There are
over 70,000 child soldiers in the Burmese Army. The SPDC has reestablished forced
conscription of the civilian population into militia units, and forced them to take part in horrible
abuses.

Gross human rights abuses by themilitary regime as well as decades of internal armed conflict,
have caused hundreds of thousands of Burmese to flee to the neighbouring countries. A number
of 150,000 Burmese live in the refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border, about 26,000
in Bangladesh, over 1,500 in India and some are in China. There is also an estimated number of
600,000 to 1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. Many of the estimated
one million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand fled their homeland for a mixture of political
and economic reasons.

The judiciary is not independent of the Government. The SPDC appoints justices to the
Supreme Court who, in turn, appoint lower court judges with the approval of the SPDC. These
courts then adjudicate cases under decrees promulgated by the SPDC that effectively have the
force of law. For instance, in November 2003, a criminal court in Burma sentenced 9 persons to
death for high treason only because they admitted to connections with the International Labour
Organization (ILO), an activity that would not be considered a crime anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, I would like to urge the Korean people and international community:

-To express firm solidarity with the NLD and the people of Burma, who, despite their hardships
and oppression, continue to strive for democracy.

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-To express deep sympathy to members and supporters of the NLD who were victims of the
premeditated attack in Depayin on 30 May 2003, and help to expose the truth behind the
ruthless incident through independent investigations.

- To urge the SPDC (military regime) to immediately stop systematic human rights violations,
release all political prisoners, seek a negotiated political settlement, and begin an inclusive
nation-building process to alleviate the suffering of the people and the country.

Thank you.

Thein Oo
Chairperson
date. 2004.5.11 Burma Lawyers' Council
Indonesia Human Rights Situation

Indonesia in the Democracy Transition


By Nining Nurhaya

Foreword

2004 is the year of election in the second times in Indonesia, which held in the democratic way. The
election of the House of Representative and Senate has been done in April 5th 2004. Meanwhile the
election of President directly for the first time in Indonesia history will be holding on July 5th 2004. The
election has involving 24 parties.

The result of the election of the House of Representative and Senate was not satisfied for the democratic
movement because the old party likes Golkar (during the New Order era, Golkar is the only party who
were in the power to do a lot of corruption and human rights violation) has won more than 20 % from the
total vote besides PDIP (Indonesian Struggling Democratic Party) won more than 17 % from the total
vote. Actually PDIP has failed to lead this country escape from economic and political crisis situation.
While new party likes Democratic Party, which have president candidate from military (Golkar party also
has president candidate from military) is surprising won more than 7 % from the total vote.

The situation above has made pro democratic movement worries. The signal of the return of militarism in
politic is getting clear. If the militarism in the power again, the chance for the better situation for human
rights situation seem likes hopeless.

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The Recent Situation in Some Conflict Area

At the moment, Aceh that has long story of human rights violation is still crying and bleeding because of
Martial Law. President Megawati has extended the Martial Law from six months become twelve months.
The result of Martial Law that clearly seen by Indonesian people are the number of people as the victim
of extra judicial killing (126 people), involuntarily disappearance (46 people), arbitrary arrest/detention
(25 people), torture (111 people), and rape (3 people). Total number of victim due to Martial Law in Aceh
for the first six months are 311 people. And now people in Aceh expect no more extending for the Martial
Law.

Besides Aceh situation, Maluku that has been in peace situation was being disturbed by the issue of
separatist. It becomes the entry point by some provocateur to tense the situation in Maluku, which happen
on April 25th 2004. There are more than 30 people killed at that moment, besides hundreds people were
wounded. Some people now refugee to another part of Maluku or other island in order to feel secure and
avoid the conflict. The conflict in Maluku now is not pure arise from the local people but there are
prejudice of tense setting because some sniper shooting the local people without reason.

Besides Maluku conflict, violence also still going on in Papua, but the news is not arising because threat
that Papuan people feel makes them silenced, especially for the men.

While Poso, Central Sulawesi, is still in the process of peace because bomb terror and mysterious shooter
still walking around Poso.

The Recent Situation in Non Conflict Area

Student and people movement because the consciousness of their rights has grown up in the number.
Some demonstration regularly happen when the policy of government in local and central is not
accommodating the people need. But some of the demonstration ending with violence, which took some
lives and causing some people arrested with accusing doing the subversive. Such as UMI (University of
Indonesia Muslim) was attack by some police on May 1st 2004, which causing around 50 people
wounded. Besides four peasants in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, was killed by police on July 21st 2004 in
order to keep their land rights.

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Besides that, the case of Tanjung Priok massacre has been in the process tribunal human rights and
decided one of the perpetrators was guilty, while others perpetrator is still in the process of tribunal.
Meanwhile the Abepura human rights tribunal just begins in Makasar. This two tribunal was the result of
the people who asking for justice. Although the result was unpredicted because too many obstacle in that
road to justice.

Closing

Human rights in Indonesia is still far away to be achieve, although in this few years there are several
changing in policy to support the human rights to be hold in Indonesia. But the government does not
implement the policy because human rights violation is still going on up to now.

Than the danger of the return of militarism in Indonesia at the moment is a real threat for the democracy
and the up hold human rights. If the military president candidate for 2004-2009 won, the struggles to up
hold justice; democracy and human rights will be hard.

Indonesia in the Democracy Transition


By Nining Nurhaya

Foreword

2004 is the year of election in the second times in Indonesia, which held in the democratic way. The
election of the House of Representative and Senate has been done in April 5th 2004. Meanwhile the
election of President directly for the first time in Indonesia history will be holding on July 5th 2004. The
election has involving 24 parties.

The result of the election of the House of Representative and Senate was not satisfied for the democratic
movement because the old party likes Golkar (during the New Order era, Golkar is the only party who
were in the power to do a lot of corruption and human rights violation) has won more than 20 % from the
total vote besides PDIP (Indonesian Struggling Democratic Party) won more than 17 % from the total
vote. Actually PDIP has failed to lead this country escape from economic and political crisis situation.
While new party likes Democratic Party, which have president candidate from military (Golkar party also
has president candidate from military) is surprising won more than 7 % from the total vote.

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The situation above has made pro democratic movement worries. The signal of the return of militarism in
politic is getting clear. If the militarism in the power again, the chance for the better situation for human
rights situation seem likes hopeless.

The Recent Situation in Some Conflict Area

At the moment, Aceh that has long story of human rights violation is still crying and bleeding because of
Martial Law. President Megawati has extended the Martial Law from six months become twelve months.
The result of Martial Law that clearly seen by Indonesian people are the number of people as the victim
of extra judicial killing (126 people), involuntarily disappearance (46 people), arbitrary arrest/detention
(25 people), torture (111 people), and rape (3 people). Total number of victim due to Martial Law in Aceh
for the first six months are 311 people. And now people in Aceh expect no more extending for the Martial
Law.

Besides Aceh situation, Maluku that has been in peace situation was being disturbed by the issue of
separatist. It becomes the entry point by some provocateur to tense the situation in Maluku, which happen
on April 25th 2004. There are more than 30 people killed at that moment, besides hundreds people were
wounded. Some people now refugee to another part of Maluku or other island in order to feel secure and
avoid the conflict. The conflict in Maluku now is not pure arise from the local people but there are
prejudice of tense setting because some sniper shooting the local people without reason.

Besides Maluku conflict, violence also still going on in Papua, but the news is not arising because threat
that Papuan people feel makes them silenced, especially for the men.

While Poso, Central Sulawesi, is still in the process of peace because bomb terror and mysterious shooter
still walking around Poso.

The Recent Situation in Non Conflict Area

Student and people movement because the consciousness of their rights has grown up in the number.
Some demonstration regularly happen when the policy of government in local and central is not
accommodating the people need. But some of the demonstration ending with violence, which took some
lives and causing some people arrested with accusing doing the subversive. Such as UMI (University of
Indonesia Muslim) was attack by some police on May 1st 2004, which causing around 50 people

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wounded. Besides four peasants in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, was killed by police on July 21st 2004 in
order to keep their land rights.

Besides that, the case of Tanjung Priok massacre has been in the process tribunal human rights and
decided one of the perpetrators was guilty, while others perpetrator is still in the process of tribunal.
Meanwhile the Abepura human rights tribunal just begins in Makasar. This two tribunal was the result of
the people who asking for justice. Although the result was unpredicted because too many obstacle in that
road to justice.

Closing

Human rights in Indonesia is still far away to be achieve, although in this few years there are several
changing in policy to support the human rights to be hold in Indonesia. But the government does not
implement the policy because human rights violation is still going on up to now.

Than the danger of the return of militarism in Indonesia at the moment is a real threat for the democracy
and the up hold human rights. If the military president candidate for 2004-2009 won, the struggles to up
hold justice; democracy and human rights will be hard.

Wattanachai Winichakul

Time, Space and Generation


I have been recruited as the manager of “October 14 Memorial” last three year. In order to
substantiate all projects and activities, I have to coordinate with so many people, remarkably, some of
those so-called “October generation”. Most frequent questions I always have been asked were: “when the
October 14, 1973 event was happened, have you been born yet? how old were you? where were you on
that day?”. These questions sound negative. It sounded to me as if the latter generation, outside the circle
of “October generation”, never knew this page of history. It seemed that they expected I must be the one
who had direct or, at least, indirect experience to that event. Fortunately, I have related to somebody who
played an important role in the past. But I wondered if it is only “October generation” who are able to
monopolise the full understanding and consciences of the spirit of people’s up-rising almost 31 years ago.
I was only seven years old in 1973 when this great event in Thai political history had been
occurred. Some said this was the “revolution” of Thai people crying for democracy, freedom and justice
after being ruled by military dictatorship for nearly two decades. For a kid like me, however, it just was a
vague memory, but only a few remembrances. First, my brother in dirty high-school uniform came back

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home for a while and then went out to join the mass protesting to the three tyrants, Thanom-Prapas-
Narong. Second, I and my sisters had to move and stayed temporarily with my aunt’s home far from the
risk area around 10 kilometres.
My house was located nearby the center of the political battle field in Bangkok at that time. The
confronting between students/people and government became violent and disorder since the morning of
14 October. Government leaders commanded the police and army to savagely suppress people
demonstration. After 2 days in trouble, finally, the three tyrants went out of the country and the turmoil
stopped. Everything turned to be peaceful.
Twenty- eight years later, the former anti-corruption building, burnt down by the riots due to the
misconduct of the 3 tyrants, became the location of a symbol to commemorate the cry for democracy.
That is the “October 14 Memorial” now.
Living near the killing zone and having a few remembrances, I have learned and been informed
the “October 14” event (such as facts, analytical articles, photographs etc.) by reading books and
newspapers, listening the elder or the former generation. It is true that I, certainly, have not experienced
the “real” October 14 event like the “October generation”, especially who were the part of or involved in
that great history.
But why it must be the only former generation who have the right to claim for being owner of
the memory?. Why do some of them have excluded others’ perception with time and space; for example,
age and involvement in the event?. I would like to ask these questions, which still have no answer, to the
former generation.
It is so impossible to take myself back into the real time and space in the history (except by riding the
time machine) in order to meet the expectations of someone of the “October generation”. I certainly agree
that one who manages this memorial should have sufficient knowledge and perception about this
historical event. However, I absolutely do not believe that the latter generation will deeply attain the more
accurate and valuable memory, only if they were born earlier and exactly join the historical event.

Memorial for Empty Memory


The crucial mission of my taskforce is to make the “October 14 Memorial” lively and attractive for
public, particularly the young generation. But after the opening ceremony last 3 year, this place has been
still the building with no contents.
The memorial itself does not convey the spirit and essence of the “October 14 event” if the contents
within are blank. An important reason is nobody makes a decision what messages and stories should be
put in this place because ones who were the opposite side in the past are still alive. Most members of the
committee of “October 14 Foundation” and some of the “October generation”, especially who are the
politician, seem to be worried about the conflict. Thus the contents have been remain undone.
The “October generation” have called for constructing the “October 14 Memorial” for 28 years. They

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finally have been successful. But the achievement is such a lifeless memorial. None of young generation
will perceive the great history of October event once they step into this memorial. If the memorial has
been constructed in order to commemorate people courage and sacrifice, and desire the next generation to
memorize this important event, it has not been successful yet.

Memorial Among the Memory Gap Between Generations


However, I still would like to see this memorial will be the learning center about Thai politic for youth,
like the classroom outside the school. I imagine the contents are attractive to the viewers and motivate
eagerness to learn more, without limitation of time and space. Nevertheless, the process of making
contents (such as brain-storm meeting, planning, implementing etc.) may take time within 3-5 years from
now. Among the process, I think we should find the answer of a few interesting questions, for example;
how can we understand and explain the so-called “memory” of each generation? how can we eliminate or
reduce the memory gap between generations?
Under the context of Thai society, my generation may be called “the transitional generation” if being
given the October 14, 1973 is the beginning of the period. In fact, my generation, who have been matured
and perceived some political ideas around the mid 1980’s, should be the bridging generation so that the
gap between two generations is reduced. But we can not do that. Why?
Because we do not understand what is the “memory” of both generations. Only thing I know about “the
new generation”, ones who have been matured around the mid 1990’s, is that they deny an absolute idea
or instant conclusion. This characteristic is similar to us, the transitional generation. I think most of the
new generation, being not more than 30 years old now, know both 1973 and 1976 events well enough.
They may feel it like an exiting and romantic narrative, but not the social memory. Therefore, some of
them are confused about the correct date and mix two events into one. Such sense and phenomenon are
the reason why I feel worried about the negative attitude of the former generation to the later generation
and the blankness of the October 14 Memorial.
As long as some of the “October generation” have thought that history of the October events are
completed and untouchable, the October 14 Memorial is meaningless. None of the latter generation will
be interested in such a completed and untouchable history. Since it is so boring!
By the same token, if the contents contain of stories that are so perfect without doubt or argument, the
memorial tends to be lifeless. Because it is no need to learn anything from the past by the later generation.
And finally, this memorial will become a place for the tourists in the inner Bangkok.
Last 6 months, one of the elder talked something to me and I was still. Now I start agree with him,
especially some words he said:
“When there is no memorial, I would like to see it as the heritage for the next generation. But when the
memorial was finished, without attraction and contents, I think it should better not to be constructed.”
I hope I will not talk something like this to the younger in the future.

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Remark : This paper is improved from which presented in Argentina in 2002, the seminar topic is
“Memory Across Generations : The Future of “Never Again”. Some information may be out-of-date
because, this year, the project plan about the contents in the memorial is more progress. The aim of the
October 14 Memorial in the near future is the historical museum focusing on the October 14, 1973 event
(other democratic movement may be included)

THE SYSTEM IS THE PROBLEM*

GEORGE KATSIAFICAS

Alongside the current war against Iraq and hostile actions against North Korea, Bush and Co. are today
waging wars in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Colombia; they arm Israel and permit it to overrun and
destroy Palestinian towns and cities; they are encouraging the revival of German and Japanese militarism;
they are attempting to overthrow the Chavez government in Venezuela; they have withdrawn from the
International Criminal Court, scrapped the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto protocols, refused
to sign a new international protocol to the 1972 biological warfare treaty, and dramatically increased
military spending. Most ominously, Bush adopted a new “first-strike” strategic doctrine, replacing
decades of US policies based on “deterrence” and “containment.”

When I say Bush and Co., I do not refer only to one man and his administration; it is the system that is the
problem. No matter who sits in the White House, whether George Bush or Bill Clinton or someone else,
militarism has long been and will surely remain at the center of US foreign policy and economic
development. The U.S. Congress has been little better than Bush: among other things, it rejected the
nuclear test ban treaty signed by 164 nations and has fully endorsed Bush’s foreign policy on every issue.
With Congressional funding, the U.S. now has over 250,000 troops in 141 countries—and it is seeking
new bases and attempting to install more troops in places like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In Northeast
Asia, 100,000 US troops are stationed indefinitely.

In a phrase, military madness defines the mentality of leading U.S. decision-makers. It would therefore by
irresponsible to regard recent military threats emanating from the White House as empty gestures. The

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world desperately needs a viable peace movement capable of mobilizing millions of people across the
globe in order to stop U.S. military madness before it gives rise to perpetual new wars. In the following
remarks, I hope to clarify the historical character of this disease and recommend a possible cure.

The Historical Pattern of Violence


Before they became organized as nation-states, white European settlers in America committed genocide
to steal the land of indigenous peoples. Beginning in the sixteenth century, peripheral areas were rapidly
assimilated into a capitalist world system based in Europe. Whether in what is now Mexico, Peru or the
US, the pattern was generally the same: besides massacring tens of millions of Native Americans,
European colonialists enslaved tens of millions of Africans to build up their new empires. Estimates of
the number of Africans killed in the slave trade range from 15 to 50 million human beings, with tens of
millions more enslaved and harshly exploited. From its earliest days, the US practiced biological warfare.
Lord Jeffrey Amherst, after whom towns in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire are named to
this day, was celebrated because he devised a scheme to rid the land of indigenous people without risking
white lives. He gave Native Americans blankets carrying smallpox virus, thereby wiping out entire
villages under the guise of providing assistance. In the century after the American Revolution, nearly all
native peoples were systematically butchered and the few survivors compelled to live on reservations.
Have people in the US apologized for and renounced such violence? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Indeed, towns are still named for Amherst, and one of the fanciest restaurants near prestigious Amherst
College is today called the “Lord Jeff.”
In a similar vein, white European settler-colonists purposely wiped out the buffalo, seeking to
deprive native peoples in the plains of their primary source of food. Between….
This early form of biological warfare was never renounced. In fact, “Buffalo Bill” staged a “Wild West”
circus-style show for many years, touring not only the East Coast of the US but also in Europe, at times
even including the great Sioux warrior chief, Sitting Bull.

In 1848, the US annexed almost half of Mexico with the aim of expanding “Anglo-Saxon democracy”
and “Manifest Destiny.” Even though dozens of US soldiers were executed under orders of General
Zachary Taylor for refusing to fight against Mexico, US expansionism accelerated. At the end of the
nineteenth Century, as manufacturers looked for international markets, the US (led by men experienced in
the Indian wars) conquered the Philippines. Six hundred thousand Filipinos perished from the war and
disease on the island of Luzon alone. William McKinley, who went on to receive a Nobel Prize, explained
that “I heartily approve of the employment of the sternest measures necessary.” The director of all

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Presbyterian missions hailed the slaughter of Filipinos as “a great step in the civilization of the world.”1
For Theodore Roosevelt, the murders in the Philippines were “for civilization over the black chaos of
savagery and barbarism.” In 1900, Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana summarized the colonialist
mentality: “We are the ruling race of the world…We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race,
trustee, under God of the civilization of the world.” One cannot help but wonder precisely what idea of
“civilization” he had in mind.

Although Mark Twain and the Anti-Imperialist League stood in opposition to U.S. policy, imperial
ambitions were far too strong. Between 1898 and 1934 US Marines invaded Honduras 7 times, Cuba 4
times, Nicaragua 5, the Dominican Republic 4, Haiti and Panama twice each, Guatemala once, Mexico 3
times and Colombia 4 times. In 1915, over 50,000 Haitians were killed when U.S. troops mercilessly put
down a peasant rebellion.2 Marines were sent to China, Russia, and North Africa—in short, wherever the
masters of US imperialism needed them.

With the Great Depression of 1929, militarism became more than an instrument of colonial conquest: it
emerged as the primary solution to stagnation in the world economy. Since 1948, the US has spent more
than $15 trillion on the military—more than the cumulative monetary value of all human-made wealth in
the U.S. -- more than the value of all airports, factories, highways, bridges, buildings, machinery, water
and sewage systems, power plants, schools, hospitals, shopping centers, hotels, houses, and automobiles.
If we add the current Pentagon budget (over $346 billion in fiscal 2002) to foreign military aid, veterans’
pensions, the military portion of NASA, the nuclear weapons budget of the Energy Department and the
interest payments on debt from past military spending, the US spends $670 billion every year on the
military—more than a million dollars a minute.3 The US military budget is larger than the world’s next 15
biggest spenders combined, accounting for 36% of global military expenditures. Although the main
problem is obviously the U.S., nearly two-thirds of global military spending today occurs outside the U.S.
Japanese and German militarism are being revived, while in South Korea the military budget has
increased by 12.7% for 2003 to more than $14 billion.

American Militarism and Asia

Unless we ignore geography, we must understand that Bush’s “axis of evil” is entirely in Asia. This is no
accident. Lest we forget history, it is in Asia where in the last half century the US slaughtered over 5

1
Noam Chomsky, “The United States and Indochina: Far From an Aberration,” in Douglas
Allen and Ngo Vinh Long (editors), Coming to Terms: Indochina, the United States and the
War (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991) p. 165.
2
See the illustrated book by Joel Andreas, Addicted to War: Why the US Can’t Kick Militarism
(Oakland: AK Press, 2002).
3
Andreas, p. 39.

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million people in regional wars so distant from the US (and Russian) mainlands that historians refer to
this period as the “Cold” War. In just three years, somewhere between three and five million people were
killed in Korea, the vast majority of them innocent civilians. Although thousands of civilian refugees
were massacred and the US employed biological weapons,4 it still will not admit to nor apologize for
these actions. Instead it moved the killing fields to Indochina, where it used more firepower than had been
used in all previous wars in history combined, killing at least two million people and leaving millions
more wounded or made refugees. Chemical warfare, euphemistically called Agent Orange, was
systematic and deadly: over 20 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnam. For every
man, woman and child in South Vietnam, the US dropped more than 1000 pounds of bombs (the
equivalent of 700 Hiroshima bombs), sprayed a gallon of Agent Orange, and used 40 pounds of napalm
and half a ton of CS gas on people whose only wrongdoing was to struggle for national independence.5
The kill ratio per capita in these two Asian wars was about 1000 times that of wars in Central America
and even higher than for the more than 200 other US military interventions during the “Cold War.”

More here on Korea


Biological warfare—several pages
Jeju, Yeosu, Gwangju responsibility

Although to most Americans, all of the above events are forgotten or at best distant history, the obscenity
of murder and mayhem visited upon the world by the United States continues unabated—at the very
moment when US policy-makers plan for even wider wars—in which Asia will once again be in the
crosshairs of UIS weapons.

East Asia’s importance as a market for military goods has been increasing dramatically. After
the end of the Cold War, when demand for such products leveled off in North America, Western Europe,
and the former Soviet Union, arms suppliers looked to other markets. US arms exports rose from $8
billion in 1989 to $40 billion in 1991, while British arms exports rose nearly 1000% from 1975 to 1995
(when they reached $4.7 billion). In 2001, global military spending (conservatively estimated) rose two
percent to $839 billion, 2.6% of world GNP or about $137 for every man, woman and child on the planet.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Between 1990 and 1997, East Asia’s share
of global defence imports by value almost tripled, from 11.4% to 31.7%. In 1988, only 10% of US arms
exports went to the region. By 1997, this had increased to 25%.” 6 Within East Asia, South Korea’s share

4
International Scientific Commission on Biological Warfare in Korea and China, Report, 1952.
available from Koreatruthcommission@yahoo.com.
5
See my edited volume, Vietnam Documents: Vietnamese and American Views of the War
(New York: ME Sharpe, 1992) p. 146.
6
Tim Huxley and Susan Willett, Arming East Asia (International Institute for Strategic
Studies/Oxford University Press, 1999) p. 23.

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of military spending in 1997 ($14.8 billion) was nearly as large as the combined total spending of
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.7 In the wake of the Asian financial crisis, military buildups
were delayed, but Malaysia’s recent purchase of three French submarines for $972 million, South Korea’s
decision to acquire 40 F-15’s for $4.23 billion and its rapidly increasing military budget are indications of
military spending taking off in the region. According to Kim Kook Hun, a Major General and director of
the South Korean Defense Ministry’s arms control bureau, 7 of 17 countries in the world with nuclear
weapons or weapons programs were in the Asia/Pacific region, as were 16 of 28 with missile programs,
10 of 16 with chemical weapons and 8 of 13 with biological weapons.8

Even more alarming is the revival of Japanese militarism. Its annual military spending is now
second only to that of the U.S., amounting to some five trillion yen (about $40 billion), and the
international deployment movement of its military (banned since 1945) has resumed. In April 2002,
Ichiro Ozawa, leader of Japan’s second largest opposition party, stated that Japan could easily make
nuclear weapons and eventually become stronger than China. Shinzo Abe, deputy chief cabinet secretary,
publicly explained that Japan could legally possess “small” nuclear weapons, while Yasuo Fakuda, chief
secretary of the Japanese cabinet, said that Tokyo could review its ban on nuclear weapons. Rather than
reaping a peace dividend with the end of the Cold War, East Asia is poised for what could become a
regional nuclear arms race and massive buildup of conventional military forces.
The need for global peace movements is strongly indicated by the above dynamics. Without massive and
militant peace movements, political elites will be unconstrained to use military spending in order to
prevent global stagnation, aggrandize national power and enrich large defense contractors. One
countertrend can be found in the Filipino example of expelling the US from its huge base at Subic Bay, an
important trendsetter for anti-militarism movements. But as we watch US troops conducting military
operations in the Philippines today, we must reflect upon the urgent need to cure the disease of military
madness, beyond temporarily addressing the symptoms. To be strategically effective, popular movements
will have to inject a long-term vision into moments of crisis. Seemingly necessary for the dynamism of
the existing world system, militarism is a scourge that squanders humanity’s vast resources and threatens
to destroy hard-won popular gains and victories. The impetus for militarism resides in the capitalist world
economic system, and it is there that peace movements must focus if a cure for the disease is to be found.

The Imperial Crusade

7
Ibid, p. 15.
8
Michael Richardson, “Fears spread that other Asia nations will seek nuclear arms,”
International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2002, p. 5.

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The key recognition here is that the real axis of evil is composed of the World Trade Organization, World
Bank, and International Monetary Fund. Like their predecessors in the colonial world, these global
institutions masquerade as bringing people more freedom and rights. “Free” trade, IMF “bailouts” and
World Bank “assistance,” however, too often mean more poverty for people at the periphery of the world
system—not more freedom. Historically there is an inverse relationship between the expansion of
prosperity and democracy in the core of the world system and growth of poverty and dictatorship in the
Third World, a dialectic of enslavement meaning that greater “progress” in Europe and the US spells
increasing misery in the periphery.

Conventional wisdom holds that increasing core democracy should mean more enlightened policies
towards the Third World and improvement in the conditions of life for all human beings. One exponent of
such conventional wisdom is Francis Fukuyama, who argues that we have reached the “end of history”—
that contemporary European/American political institutions are at the desired endpoint of human
development. Fukuyama believes that the battle of Jena in 1806 (when Napoleon defeated the Prussian
monarchy) marks the consolidation of the liberal-democratic state, and that “the principles and privileges
of citizenship in a democratic state only have to be extended.” For Fukuyama, “there is nothing left to be
invented” in terms of humanity’s social progress.9

For Fukuyama, the spatial extension of the principles of the French Revolution means that the rest of the
world will likewise experience human progress. Evidence abounds, however, that the extension of those
principles has resulted in just the opposite --increasing dependency and poverty for the Third World. The
American and French revolutions helped propel the nascent world system centered in Europe into a
framework of international domination, concentrating military power in nation-states and accumulating
the world’s wealth in the hands of giant corporations and banks. The worldwide penetration of the
economic and political system produced by the American and French revolutions has, to be sure, resulted
in rapid economic development and some of the most important forms of political liberty that our species
has enjoyed. For a majority of its people, the U.S. is arguably the freest society in the world. The
dialectical irony of history means that it is simultaneously a white European settler colony founded on
genocide and slavery as well as on freedom and democracy. But one must ask: what are the costs of living
in such a society? Slavery in the Third World? Ecological devastation? Military madness?

The dynamic of increasing political democracy in the North coinciding with intensified exploitation in the
South has a long history. French colonialists in Vietnam provided a particularly graphic example when
they placed a copy of the same statue of liberty that France gave to the U.S. (the one now in New York
harbor) atop the pagoda of Le Loi in Hanoi. Le Loi was the national leader who in 1418 had helped defeat

9
See his article “The End of History,” Foreign Affairs 1988, p. 5.

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the Mongols when they invaded Vietnam. Today he is still regarded as a national hero, a man whose
mythology includes Hoan Kiem (Returned Sword) Lake, where the golden turtle that gave him the
magical sword he used to drive the Mongols out subsequently reappeared to reclaim the sword—a story
not unlike that of King Arthur in British folklore. The placing of a statue of liberty on Le Loi’s pagoda
certainly was an affront to the Vietnamese, one symbolizing how the spatial extension of the principles of
the French Revolution can be brutally offensive to the Third World.

French colonialism was indeed brutal and deadly: Indochinese recall that dead human beings fertilize
each tree in the country’s vast rubber plantations. During the great war against fascism, French
exploitation of Vietnam was intensified. In a famine from 1944 to 1945, at least a million and a half and
possibly two million Vietnamese starved to death in the North (where the population was under 14
million), at the very time rice exports to France were fueling its liquor industry -- a blatant disregard for
human life in the midst of the war against “fascism.” In American popular culture, President John
Kennedy is often associated with the word “Camelot” and remembered for his beautiful wife. Tragically,
it was he—one of the most “liberal” U.S. presidents in history -- who ordered massive use of Agent
Orange in Vietnam. Similarly, the strongest French imperial expansionists were staunch anti-clerical
“progressives” who regarded themselves as ideological heirs of the French Revolution. They were
“enlightened” liberals, much like John Kennedy and members of his administration were “enlightened”
liberals who believed they were carrying forth in the tradition of the U.S. revolutionary heritage and
Manifest Destiny. As Minister of Education, Jules Ferry defied the Catholic Church in France by making
education universal, secular, and obligatory but he was later the first French prime minister to make
intensification of colonialism his overriding platform. Ferry believed that it was France’s duty to civilize
inferior people, and on May 15, 1883, a full-scale expedition was launched to impose a protectorate on
Vietnam.10 Conservatives in France objected to this colonial expansion. As Vietnam disappeared,
subsumed under the names of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China, even the identity of Vietnamese people
was attacked as the French referred to them as Annamites. Here we can see the spatial expansion of the
liberal values of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution—values that became the basis for France’s
“civilizing mission” (“Mission civilisatrice”) just as the American Revolution was later turned into
“Manifest Destiny.” It was the same French troops, bringing with them “civilization,” who in 1885
burned the imperial library at Hue, which contained ancient scrolls and manuscripts and was a repository
for thousands of years of oriental wisdom.

In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville, a disciple of the French Revolution and author of the famous book
Democracy in America, watched in Memphis, Tennessee the “triumphant march of civilization across the
desert,” as he put it. As he observed 3,000 or 4,000 soldiers drive before them “the wandering races of the
10
See Greater France, A History of French Overseas Expansion by Robert Aldrich (New York:
St. Martin’s, 1996) p. 98.

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aborigines”, that is, those Native Americans who were lucky enough to survive “Jacksonian democracy”
(named after a man who ordered his men to exterminate “bloodthirsty barbarians and cannibals”),
Tocqueville was duly impressed that Americans could deprive Indians of their liberty and exterminate
them, as he put it, “with singular felicity, tranquility, legally, philanthropically, without shedding blood,”
and most importantly “without violating a single great principle of morality in the eyes of the world” --
the European world, one should say. “It was impossible,” Tocqueville said, “to kill people with more
respect for the laws of humanity.”11 Fukuyama’s spatial extension of the liberal principles of the French
and American revolutions could not be more eloquently enunciated.

In the name of civilization and liberal democracy, the British destroyed the communal
ownership of village land in India, structures that had sustained local culture for centuries, a communal
tradition surviving invasions by Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Afghans, Tartars, and Mongols but which
could not, as Fukuyama would insist, resist the perfection of the liberal principles of the British state.
Under British enlightenment, large estates developed and peasants were turned into sharecroppers. In
1867 the first fruits of British liberalism appeared: in the Orissa district of India alone, more than one
million people died in a famine. Such famines were hardly indigenous to India, with its “backward”
traditions (according to European values), but were brought by the “enlightened” liberalism of European
democracy, through the spatial extension of the principles of “democratic” capitalism.

Under the direct influence of its great revolution, France proclaimed a crusade against Algerian slavery
and anarchy and, in the name of instituting orderly and civilized conditions, was able to break up Arab
communal fields of villages, including lands untouched by the “barbarous” and “unenlightened” Ottoman
rulers. As long as Moslem Islamic culture had prevailed, hereditary clan and family lands were
inalienable, making it impossible for the land to be sold. But after fifty years of enlightened French rule,
the large estates had again appeared and famine made its ugly appearance in Algeria.

Civilization or Barbarism?

I have indicated how European capitalist “civilization” -- particularly its most “enlightened” forms --
systematically slaughtered native peoples and created a centralized world system that demands militarism
as a key organizing principle. If this were simply past history, we could all breathe a sigh of relief. But
these very tendencies are today stronger than ever. According to the United Nations, in the 1990s more
than 100 million children under the age of five died of unnecessary causes: diarrhea, whooping cough,
tetanus, pneumonia, and measles—diseases easily preventable through cheap vaccines or simply clean
water. UNICEF estimates that up to 30,000 children under the age of five die of easily preventable

11
See Chomsky, op. cit.

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diseases every day in the Third World.12 Kofi Annan declared in 2001 that as many as 24,000 people
starve to death every day. 13 Altogether one billion people are chronically malnourished while austerity
measures imposed by the IMF have resulted in a drop in real wages in the Third World and declining
gross national products in many countries. While 70 percent of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 20
percent of its population, one in ten human beings suffers starvation and malnutrition.

Despite—or more accurately, because of—the spatial extension of liberal values in the period after World
War II, there were four times as many deaths from wars in the forty years after World War II than in the
forty years prior to World War II. While the world spends something like a trillion dollars a year on its
militaries, one adult in three cannot read and write, one person in four is hungry, the AIDS epidemic
accelerates and we are destroying the planet’s ecological capacity to sustain life. The absurdity and
tragedy of such a world is made even more absurd and tragic by the profound ignorance and insensitivity
of the wealthiest planetary citizens regarding the terrible plight of human beings in the periphery.

In such a world, of course, there can be no lasting peace. As long as the wretched of the earth, those at the
margins of the world system, are dehumanized, branded as terrorists, and kept out of decision-making,
they have no alternative but to carry out insurrection and wage war in order to find justice. In order to
remedy this irrational system, a crucial task is to redefine what civilization means. We know what it is not
for the billion or more “wretched of the earth” for whom increasing planetary centralization and
dependence upon transnational corporations, militarized nation-states and the international axis of evil
mean living hell. With the passing of time it becomes more obvious that this same “civilization”
squanders humanity’s wealth, destroys traditional cultures wholesale, and plunders the planet’s natural
resources.

The structural violence of an economic system based upon short-term profitability is a crisis that all peace
and justice movements will have to address. Even if some of the above irrationalities of the present
system are reduced, the structural contradictions of the system will inevitably be displaced to other
arenas. As long as vast social wealth remains dominated by the “enlightened” and “rational” principles of
efficiency and profitability, there will be militarism, brutal degradation of human lives along with
unbridled destruction of the natural ecosystem; there will be mammoth socially wasteful projects, for
example tunnels in the Alps and Pyrenees, bridges connecting Denmark and Sweden or Prince Edward
Island and the Canadian mainland, redundant World Cup stadiums—rather than constructive use of
humanity’s enormous social wealth. A few hundred multinational corporations today control this social
wealth through the most undemocratic of means and for ends benefiting only a small minority. According

12
“UN Says Millions of Children Die Needlessly” by Elizabeth Olson, New York Times, March
14, 2002, p. 13.
13
“’Time to Act’ on Hunger, Annan says,” International Herald-Tribune, June 11, 2002.

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to the logic of “enlightened” neoliberal economics, these corporations must either grow or die. Only a
fundamental restructuring of the world system can lead us toward an ecologically viable life-world, one in
which we decentralize and bring under self-management the vast social wealth of humanity.

Instead of relying on “liberal” governments to constrain US militarism, people can use extraparliamentary
tactics to isolate the U.S. -- just as earlier international groups and movements turned the apartheid
regime in South Africa into an international pariah. Wherever in the world Bush or senior US officials
travel, protests should be as militant and massive as possible. Grassroots rebellions in Argentina, Mexico
and Nigeria reflect the high level of consciousness people in many countries have developed and are
ready to act upon.14 In this context, far-reaching protests can help unleash a global peace offensive that
will compel governments to stop war by raising their costs and disrupting domestic tranquility.

In the U.S., where regime change is most desperately needed to prevent use of weapons of mass
destruction and fight militarism, an extraparliamentary opposition was galvanized by the Seattle anti-
WTO protests. Although reactionary forces now command overwhelming majority allegiance, vital
countertrends have appeared, as seen in the 200,000 or more people who marched in Washington at the
end of October along with the great popularity enjoyed by such critics as Michael Moore and Noam
Chomsky. Gradually breaking with the ideological and organizational power of reaction will necessarily
proceed from small steps to giant leaps.

Since 1968 the international character of popular movements has been recognized as a primary factor in
their emergence and impact. Two more examples of the spread of movements across borders, involving a
process of mutual amplification and synergy, can be found in the disarmament movement of the early
1980s in the US and Europe and in the wave of democracy movements in Asia in the mid and late-
1980s.15

From a handful of nuclear disarmament protesters in the 1970s, an enormous peace movement
changed world history in the 1980s, helping end the Cold War and alter the global balance of power.
Movements grew from years of grassroots initiatives in a variety of arenas, 16 spreading rapidly and
bringing hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of New York, Paris, London, Rome, Brussels
and Bonn. The situation in Northeast Asia today is very similar to that of Europe in the early 1980s, when
the US and USSR stationed intermediate range Pershing and SS-20 nuclear missiles in the region. Such
new missile deployment meant that the US and USSR could have fought a “limited” nuclear war in
14
See Amory Starr and Jason Adams, “Anti-globalization: The Global Fight for Local
Autonomy,” New Political Science 25:1 (March 2003).
15
These are examples of what I call the “eros effect.” See www.eroseffect.com.
16
For a full analysis, see my book The Subversion of Politics: European Social Movements and
the Decolonization of Everyday Life, published in 1997.

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Europe without either country being directly engaged in military hostilities. The emergence of the Green
Party in Germany and the presence of huge protest movements helped Gorbachev convince Russian
generals that Western Europe would not attack them, allowing the USSR to change peacefully, release its
East European buffer states, and take the initiative to end the arms race.

The Slaughter of Innocents


State Terrorism and Genocide in Our Time

We have recently left perhaps the bloodiest and most terrifying century of human history. The tragedies
are too numerous to mention in full, but a short list will suffice: the Armenian genocide, the Soviet gulag,
the European Holocaust, the Nanking Massacre, the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden, the atomic
bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the repressions of Maoist China, the nightmare of the Khmer
Rouge, the slaughter of the Kurds, the “dirty wars” waged by Latin American governments upon their
own people. Killing fields dot the landscape of human history. But in the 20th century, we developed the
techniques to realize our most murderous tendencies.

The end of the Cold War in Europe in 1989 led to much speculation that great historical passions were
finally put to rest and the world would settle down to a bureaucratic state of ever increasing political
entropy – the EU-ification of the world. But the 1990s were just as brutal as the previous nine decades.
The mass slaughter in Rwanda, the targeting of civilians in the former Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing in
Sudan, the ruthless suppression of uprisings in Iraq, and countless bloody disputes throughout Africa, the
Middle East, and Asia all suggested that those initial expectations were naïve.

The 20th-century atrocities that I’ve mentioned, both before and after 1989, share two things in common.
They involved the large-scale death of civilians – non-combatants who happened to be in the wrong place
at the wrong time or were killed for not having the right ethnicity or religion or ideas. And the
perpetrators of these crimes were states, for only states possess the means to plan, carry out, or inspire
such large-scale killing. If the 18th and 19th centuries witnessed all the bloody sacrifices associated with
the rise of states – consider the French Revolution, the forging of Germany out of “blood and iron,” the
making of the Meiji state in Japan – the 20th century provided a cautionary tale of the consequences of
mature state power.

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In the 21st century, some argue that the threat from states has largely retreated, and it is non-state actors –
terrorists – who most threaten individuals and the world order. The Bush administration has used this
argument to justify recent attacks. It was the Taliban’s sheltering of Al Qaeda that served as the explicit
rationale for U.S. intervention in 2001. And the administration, to rally public support for invasion,
attempted to link Saddam Hussein to its larger “war on terrorism” by suggesting links that did not exist to
Al Qaeda. Both Iran and North Korea, the two other members of the “axis of evil,” are demonized not so
much for what they can do directly to the United States (though the United States frequently worries
about the reach of North Korean missiles), but for their alleged capacity to service terrorist organizations
with material support or even weapons of mass destruction.

For all this talk of the terrorism of non-state actors, however, states have not suddenly become benign in
the 21st century. States, both large and small, continue to wage war both externally and internally.
Indeed, in terms of sheer numbers, states continue to be responsible for the overwhelming number of
civilian deaths around the world – in the millions over the last decade compared to the thousands killed
by terrorists. Approximately 5,000 people died in terrorist attacks from 2001 to the end of 2003 – a
record number because of 9/11 – but that compares to an estimated 9,000 civilian deaths in the Iraq
occupation alone. This is not to excuse or justify or minimize terrorism. From the point of view of the
victim, an atrocity is an atrocity, regardless of the perpetrator or the scale of the act.

As the largest and most powerful state in the world, the United States plays a particularly troubling role,
as much for its acts of war as for its stubborn adherence to unilateralism. This unilateralism predates the
Bush administration. Linked to a tradition of American exceptionalism, this “go it alone” ethos is hard-
wired into the very practice of U.S. foreign policy.

This presentation will look at the role of the state in perpetuating violence against citizens, both in the
form of “state terrorism” and “genocide.” I’ll also briefly look at what has been done to curb the excesses
of the state, largely through popular movements and legal action at both the national and international
level. And I’ll look at how the United States, despite many excellent organizations and committed
politicians, has a disproportionately negative impact on creating international standards to prevent human
rights abuses.

But the central questions I’ll be posing today will be the following. Is it naïve to expect that states can be
transformed, or are they, like colonial systems, constitutionally disposed to large-scale, unjust actions? Is
it equally naïve to expect that we have any sane or effective alternatives to the modern state? And what
can we expect from the most powerful state in the world, regardless of who is in the White House?

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A Short History of the State and Terrorism

Life before the State was not a great deal of fun, if we are to believe the English philosopher Thomas
Hobbes. It was a “war of all against all,” and the average person’s experience was “solitary, poor, nasty,
brutish, and short.” The State might be an awesome and fearful force – a “Leviathan” in Hobbes’s
biblically inspired words – but it was generally preferable to the alternative of chaos.

To prevent challenges to its authority that might return society to this “war of all against all,” the modern
state has sought a monopoly on violence. It reserved for itself the right of both foreign military activities
and the maintenance of internal order. And the state, with occasional consultation with religious
authorities and even less frequent resort to treaties, determined whether any particular use of force was
just or not. The history of the formation of states can be viewed romantically (Garibaldi and the creation
of modern Italy) or with a more jaundiced eye (the slaughter of indigenous peoples, the ruthless
suppression of minorities). But today, however you would like to believe a given state was constructed,
the 180-odd existing states in the world are legal facts backed up by force of arms. The poorest states,
like North Korea, have armies. Neutral states like Switzerland have armies. And even Japan, which was
governed by the world’s only “peace constitution,” is lobbying hard to have a “normal” military. (Costa
Rica, the only country without a standing army, is the exception that proves the rule).

The history of the modern state is also a history of bureaucratic control. This control has been maintained
through institutions such as the military, schools, and the civil service. To the extent that state and nation
do not coincide – and this is the case throughout the world with only a few exceptions – the state has also
used its institutions to create national sentiment as a legitimizing force – to turn “peasants into
Frenchmen” in Eugen Weber’s characterization of the breaking down of minority (Breton, Provencal)
affections to build support for central French power in Paris.

The state, in other words, is the great homogenizer. Violence has been used to maintain borders (or
expand them), but it has also been used to enforce loyalty domestically. No state tolerates rebellions,
revolts, and revolutions. Governments may come and go, depending on the democratic nature of the
country, but states with very rare exceptions – East Germany, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union – do not
disappear gently into history. Those who are not loyal to the state – in the form of individual traitors or
collective rebellions – are subject to criminal penalties in the first case (including death) and war in the
second case (the crushing of uprisings such as the one in Kwangju or the suppression of the National
League for Democracy in Burma).

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Much has been written of the economic origins and justifications of the state. But when it comes to state
violence and genocide, economic rationales have rarely played a critical role. Certainly the mass
slaughters associated with colonialism – the millions who died, for instance, in Congo at the hands of the
Belgians in the 19th and early 20th centuries – were motivated by greed. But desire for wealth cannot
explain the rampages of the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or the Nazis in Europe.
These campaigns required some conception or ideology of enforced homogeneity based on race, political
beliefs, or a combination of the two. Genocide can be understood as an extreme corruption of the
homogeneity that all states require and which goes by various names – patriotism, nationalism, political
loyalty.

It has been common to contrast states and terrorists. States are a legitimate part of the world order, and
their violence is legal and expected and governed (to a certain extent) by international law. Terrorists
form an illegitimate force whose violence is unexpected and illegal. This facile contrast, repeated by
most state leaders, does not hold up to close scrutiny.

Let’s look first at several definitions of terrorism. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “the
use of terror, violence, and intimidation to achieve an end.” The FBI puts an emphasis on the illegal
nature of terrorist acts and throws in attacks against property: "the unlawful use of force against persons
or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in the
furtherance of political or social objectives." The United Nations has so far been unable to achieve
consensus on a definition, but there has been a good deal of support for defining terrorist acts simply as
the “peacetime equivalents of war crimes.”

Even with the FBI definition, it should be clear that terrorism can be a technique used by both state and
non-state actors. The Nazi state was a terrorist state, as was the Soviet state under Stalin and the Japanese
state of the 1930s – they all used violence against civilians to further political goals. But democracies,
too, have used terror and violence against citizens to achieve ends. During the 20th century, for instance,
large-scale terror attacks against civilians became a legitimate strategy of war. The Allied fire bombings
of Dresden and Tokyo were specifically designed to kill civilians in large numbers and reduce popular
support for the respective governments. U.S. use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during
World War II and the bombing of dams in North Korea in the Korean War were a logical continuation of
this trend. The continued development of weapons of mass destruction during the Cold War must be
considered in this context of state-sponsored terrorism; nuclear deterrence, a cornerstone of the current
world order, is a technique by which states balance each other’s institutionalized terrorism. During
peace-time, too, democratic states practiced terrorism through both overt and covert operations (for
example, U.S. material and logistical support for death squads in Latin America or Israel’s assassinations

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of its enemies).

But terrorism, conventionally, has been used to describe the activities of non-state movements. The
precursors to modern terrorists espoused violence to combat tyranny. In the modern era, however,
terrorist movements initially arose to either create states (Israel, Macedonia), recreate states (Korea,
Poland), or transform states (Russia, Germany). To achieve these goals, movements that are outnumbered
seek advantage by breaking the “rules of combat.” In many cases, terrorism has only been a method of
equalizing power relations so that outsiders can win a seat at the table. Many organizations that have
been labeled “terrorist” – the precursor to Israel’s Likud, Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, the African
National Congress – have since become political actors in the mainstream.

The term “terrorism” is thus ambiguous. Both state and non-state actors use violence against civilians to
achieve political goals. The term can be stretched to encompass virtually any group, from the “freedom
fighters” in Afghanistan to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, from the Red Army Brigade in Japan to the
Real IRA in Ireland, and even (according to the Chinese government), the Falun Gong. And former
terrorists like Nelson Mandela have become world-renowned statesmen.

With the end of the Cold War, however, the categories have shifted once again. A new construct for
understanding international relations has emerged: market democracies versus everyone else (rogue
states, stubbornly communist countries, terrorist organizations). Anti-terrorism has thus become the anti-
communism of our generation. State-sponsored violence, which was once directed against “communists”
in Guatemala or Indonesia or South Korea, is now directed against those engaged in “jihad.” What was
once a strictly political distinction, for communists were understood largely in terms of their goal of
seizing state power, now comes with a set of cultural assumptions as well. Al Qaeda does not believe in
“our” God. It rejects “our” social liberalism. And it believes not so much in seizing state power as
eliminating modern states altogether in favor of recreating an ancient caliphate with mullahs in charge.
The political needs of the “war on terrorism” do not quite square with the cultural overtones of the current
crusade against radical Islam. To imagine that Al Qaeda has anything in common with the IRA or the
Basque ETA or with North Korea and Cuba or with non-communist “rogue” states such as Sudan and
Syria stretches “terrorism” beyond even its previous malleability. Just as anti-communism saw
conspiracies between disparate movements – inveterate enemies such as China and Vietnam or feuding
powers like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia or distant acquaintances like Chilean socialists and Cuban
communists – anti-terrorism has created an equally disconnected “axis of evil.”

Before I turn to the “war on terrorism” and current U.S. policy, though, let me discuss the non-violent
path to reining in the excesses of the state – popular movements for democracy and human rights.

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Democracy and Human Rights

The most profound transformation to temper the excesses of the state has been democracy. Majority rule,
with minority protections and transparent political institutions, offers the promise of reaping the benefits
of the state (stability, economic growth) while avoiding the drawbacks (oppression). Democratic
movements serve a vital watchdog function on the exercise of state power, whether overseas or domestic.
Democratic institutions, through checks and balances, prevent any one individual or group from using
state power unjustly. At least, this is the theory.

Without going into the real world failings of democracy, suffice it to say that democracy does not
automatically spell the end of oppression. There is the problem of the tyranny of the majority – German
support for the Nazi party, Japanese-American internment camps in the United States – which sanctions
oppression through popular support. Second, there is the problem of the “national security exception,”
which exempts questions of national security from democratic scrutiny. The budget and activities of U.S.
intelligence agencies, for instance, are not open to public control. Pentagon strategy is not subject to
Congressional control much less citizen oversight. The state argues that the security of the country
requires a measure of secrecy, and with this secrecy comes a wealth of opportunities for abuse.

Democracy is a necessary condition for putting controls on state violence. But it is not sufficient.
Popular movements can organize domestically to improve democratic controls over the army and
intelligence agencies. But let’s look at another strategy – applying pressure from the outside. This is
where the human rights movement enters the picture.

The human rights movement grew out of the experience of World War II and the Holocaust. Developing
countries, anticipating the break-up of colonialism, demanded the creation of standards for economic and
social justice. An incipient NGO movement, numbering approximately 40 organizations, pushed for
universal human rights for individuals over and above the self-determination of peoples. As described by
Mary Ann Glendon in A World Made New, Eleanor Roosevelt guided the Human Rights Commission
toward reconciling these two approaches by asserting a set of basic human values that transcended
diverse cultural contexts. The UN Declaration of Human Rights offered a potential check on states that
engaged in cross-border violence or that turned against their own citizens.

At the same time, the Commission was careful not to upset the principle building blocks of the nation-
state system, namely the notions of sovereignty and territorial integrity established in the 17th century in

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the Treaty of Westphalia. As such, no state could use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to
justify intervention in another state’s affairs. Sovereignty has always been the last refuge of the state. If
internal policies cannot be justified on a moral or legal basis, the state in the end asserts that the policies
are not open to external challenge for all states have the right to do what they please within their own
borders.

Parallel to the work of the Human Rights Commission, however, were Raphael Lemke’s efforts to secure
a genocide convention. Here the goal was to establish a kind of exception to the standard of sovereignty if
and only if a state attempted mass murder against an ethnic group within its borders. This was a radical
move. Even at the Nuremburg trials, Nazi defendants were charged with crimes against humanity only in
the cases of German invasion of other countries; what German citizens did in Germany to other German
citizens did not count. The convention, which passed in 1948, deliberately excluded political groups from
its definition of the potentially victimized.

The genocide convention has had more hortatory than actual effect. As Samantha Power makes clear in
her 2002 book A Problem from Hell, all states have acknowledged the importance of the genocide
convention but very rarely have invoked it. States are large, unwieldy creations. They do not act with
moral conviction (though an occasional leader will do so, for better or worse). Only the most slender
efforts were made to prevent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Even less was done to stop the killings in
Rwanda. Very little is being done today, as we speak, to prevent the Sudanese government and its proxy
Arab militias from killing non-Arab Africans in Darfur. Human rights organizations can bring attention
to genocide, but they cannot by themselves stop the killing. Nor can the international community, such
that it is, stop genocide. Only states have the means to prevent (or authorize the UN to prevent) genocide.

Although they haven’t been able to stop genocide, the human rights movement has had measurable
impact on the activities of states. Human rights movements played critical roles in democratizing Eastern
Europe, transforming governments throughout Latin America, and making a profound difference for
millions of people throughout Asia. As critically, human rights movements have affected how putatively
democratic governments behave, for such movements have challenged pragmatic alliances that the United
States or European countries have maintained with dictatorial regimes.
Although democratic institutions are more widespread and human rights organizations have greater power
today than every before, states continue to oppress. A large gap remains between the state as guarantor of
rights and the state as the violator of rights. When the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the
Genocide Convention were written in the 1940s, there were great hopes that a newly emerging set of
international institutions would make states behave. This did not happen. In the 1990s, hopes were
renewed that the UN would step into the void of power created by the end of the Cold War. Let me turn

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now to one of the chief reasons why an international system has been slow to replace the old, creaking
nation-state system.

American Exceptionalism

Although U.S. civil society and elements of the U.S. government have taken strong stands on human
rights issues, there are four major problems in the overall U.S. approach, all of which have made it very
difficult to construct an international set of standards that can serve as a backbone for a peaceful, rights-
respecting global system.

Reluctance to combat genocide


Refusal to compromise on “sovereignty”
Inconsistent application of human rights standards globally
Extralegality in counterterrorism operations
.
Although U.S. citizens were instrumental in pushing for the genocide treaty, the United States did not
ratify the treaty until 1988. Even while they quibbled over the terms of the treaty, U.S. politicians
solemnly promised that the European Holocaust would “never again” happen. Actions did not live up to
these words. The United States condemned the Khmer Rouge during its reign of terror, but then backed
the deposed movement after the Vietnam invasion of 1979 in order to achieve a “balance of power” in the
region. In a similar effort to balance the power of Iran, the United States sided with Iraq during the Iran-
Iraq war of the 1980s. The U.S. agricultural lobby also blocked consideration of economic sanctions
against Iraq when news of the slaughter of Kurds began to leak out (Iraq was the 9th largest importer of
U.S. food). The Clinton administration decried the acts of the Serbian government and Bosnian Serbs in
Bosnia, but tended to blame all sides. While Croatia was certainly guilty of atrocities (Bosnia committed
considerably fewer), this tendency to assess blame evenly prevented the U.S. government from backing
more resolute action – more UN peacekeepers, NATO bombings of Serb military targets – to prevent, for
instance, the slaughter of 7,000 Bosnians at the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica.

And when very credible reports began to emerge from Rwanda of Tutsi atrocities against the Hutu
minority, the Clinton administration refused to invoke genocide for fear of being required, by
international law, to support intervention into the crisis. Approximately 800,000 Hutus were killed,
approximately 80 percent of the Hutu population in Rwanda. In the middle of the genocide, the U.S.
government actually prevented the UN from deploying 5500 troops when the Security Council finally
approved a measure to expand its forces. Only 800 men were deployed. Why didn’t the United States

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act? In part, it was reluctant to oppose France, which was aligned with the Tutsis and blocked
intervention at the UN level. The United States also did not want to be caught in a long conflict that
could cost American lives, especially so soon after the Mogadishu disaster and the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Somalia. Nor was there a Tutsi community in the United States putting pressure on the U.S.
president or the U.S. Congress. This was a clear case of the necessity of a “humanitarian intervention.” It
has been estimated that a force of 5,000 well-armed soldiers deployed immediately could have prevented
the bulk of the atrocities. But the United States, like other countries, did not feel compelled, either
politically or morally, to intervene.

While it is easy to make judgments about genocide after the fact, the choices at the time are not always so
clear. Take the example of Kosovo. In March 1999, the Clinton administration finally used genocide as a
rationale for instructing NATO for the first time in its 50-year history to wage an actual war. NATO
conducted bombing raids over Serbia during which not a single NATO soldier died. Indeed, planes
bombed from much higher altitudes than would otherwise be effective simply to avoid anti-aircraft fire.
This led to several costly mistakes, such as killing a busload of Albanian refugees – overall,
approximately 500 civilians died during the bombing, according to Human Rights Watch. Did the
bombing work? 2500 Kosovars were killed in the year before bombing. Within 11 weeks of the
bombing, Serb forces killed roughly 10,000 (the exact figures are still under dispute). But how many
might have died if the bombing hadn’t taken place? Would fewer innocent civilians have died if
American fighter pilots had flown at lower but riskier altitudes? These are not easy questions to answer.

The second problem of U.S. policy is the government’s refusal to tolerate any formal infringement of its
sovereignty. This has led the U.S. government to reject numerous international treaties (UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child, UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the treaty on
landmines, the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the International Criminal Court) and to sign others
only with “reservations, understandings, and declarations” that render U.S. participation largely nominal.
Large powers have shown no qualms about infringing the sovereignty of other countries – invading them,
establishing “no-fly” zones, and insisting that they conform to international rules of conduct. But only
large countries, the United States most prominently, are powerful enough to remain within the
Westphalian system, retaining the right of exclusive control over what happens within their borders.

The refusal of the United States to “play well with others” means that the international norms governing
genocide, human rights, fair working conditions and so on remain weak. The United States argues that
U.S. laws are more robust than any international laws, but this insistence in fact is self-fulfilling. U.S.
unilateralism flows from an “exceptionalist” tradition that argues that the United States is an exception to
the rules that govern all other nations. The United States has a special role in history (which is God-

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given, according to fundamentalists), has not suffered from foreign wars on its soil, does not have the
baggage of feudalism, and has the moral authority to spread American-style democracy (and culture and
economics) worldwide. If other countries don’t understand this role, then the United States must go it
alone.

The third problem is inconsistency in application of human rights standards. No U.S. government – even
the Carter administration – has been immune from economic and political considerations when
formulating human rights policy. U.S. economic interests in Uganda, for instance, contributed to the
Carter administration’s reluctance to impose sanctions against the brutal Idi Amin. The Reagan
administration adhered to Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian”
governments when it ignored the human rights abuses of the former (Chile) and focused on the abuses of
the latter (Soviet Union). Subsequent U.S. governments have followed a similar pattern of selective
application. For our allies in the war on terrorism – Pakistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan – human rights has
taken a backseat to military aid and trade. When the United States needed China’s support last year for
the war on Iraq, the administration conveniently neglected to introduce a resolution on the human rights
situation in the country at the UN Human Rights Commission (this year, to deny the Democrats an easy
campaign issue, the administration dusted off its resolution because of Chinese “backsliding”). Julie
Mertus, in her valuable book Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy, argues
persuasively that the United States has systematically refused to apply to itself the human rights standards
to which it insists other countries adhere. “In no presidency to date can we say that human rights norms
have been pervasively or consistently embedded in thought and action,” she writes.
In its recent “war on terrorism,” the Bush administration has highlighted a fourth problem in U.S. policy –
extralegality. While other administrations have skirted the law in the past, the current administration has
used counterterrorism to justify a sweeping rejection of international standards on such matters as
preventive war, political assassination, secret military tribunals, torture, and illegal detentions. In order to
limit my remarks, let me focus on political assassination.

After the Watergate crisis, a Congressional hearing into covert activities uncovered a wealth of
information on U.S. complicity in political assassinations world wide. Here was concrete proof that the
United States was engaged in the oldest form of terrorism – plotting to kill leaders such as Patrice
Lumumba, Fidel Castro, and Salvador Allende and killing as many as 20,000 opponents of the South
Vietnamese government in the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War. As outraged legislators
prepared a bill to prevent the United States from engaging in such activities, President Ford stole their
thunder by issuing an executive order to the same effect. But there was a big difference between the
legislation and the executive order. The president could make exceptions to the executive order. In 1989,
the Bush Sr. administration asked for legal clarification of this order. As journalist Mark Danner

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describes the clarification in Killing Pablo, “a decision by the president to employ clandestine, low
visibility or overt military force would not constitute assassination if the U.S. military forces were
employed against the combatant forces of another nation, a guerrilla force, or a terrorist or other
organization whose actions pose a threat to the security of the United States.” This interpretation
permitted the United States to go after drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi,
and Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The Bush Jr. administration has relied heavily on this particular interpretation to expedite its “war on
terrorism.” In November 2002, CIA agents used an unmanned Predator drone to kill a suspected high-
ranking Al Qaeda lieutenant along with five others. The attack took place outside a war zone. The five
other victims not connected to Al Qaeda were considered “collateral damage.” No judicial proceeding
determined the guilt or innocence of the targeted victim. The United States simply acted above the law.

The United States is not alone in its inconsistent application of human rights standards, the use of
extrajudicial killings, the refusal to compromise sovereignty, and the refusal to intervene to stop genocide.
But as the largest and most powerful country in the world, the United States is in a special position to
establish precedents, lead by moral example, and help create international institutions that can enforce
collective decisions.

Conclusion: Beyond the State?

The state is at the same time the greatest protector of human rights and the greatest oppressor. Jews, East
Timorese, Bosnians have all struggled to build states as a check against genocide and large-scale human
rights violations. But as we can see from the example of Israel, even the experience of genocide does not
prevent a people from using the state apparatus as a tool of oppression.

In the world that we live in – as opposed to the world that we want to live in – states are a given. But go
back only a hundred years and you will find an era in which colonial empires were a given. Colonial
empires co-existed with the nation-state system. As colonial empires broke apart, new states emerged,
which strengthened the inter-state system and, ultimately, made the United Nations possible.

We are nearing the end of this process. Yes, there remain some peoples who are struggling to create states
– Kurds, Basques, Kosovars, Tibetans, Xinjiang Muslims, Chechens. But new regional and international
institutions may soon be able to offer stateless peoples the kinds of protections and guarantees that once
only a state could provide. The European Union offers Basques and Bretons and Flemish and Lombards

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and Corsicans and Roma a level of representation other than national. International covenants on human
rights and genocide, if backed by a standing army of peacekeepers, will be more than mere pieces of
paper. Multilateral humanitarian interventions, rather than unilateral decisions or hastily assembled
“coalitions of the willing,” will enforce the collective decisions of an international community.

Between today’s world and the world of tomorrow stands what may well be the last empire in history, the
United States. As in Hobbes, the United States claims that it must act as a Leviathan in order to prevent
the world from slipping into chaos, a war of all against all. The U.S. Leviathan, with its refusal to abide
by international standards, is holding the world back from building a new global system in the same way
that the British empire prevented the emergence of nation-states in the developing world. In the world
that Hobbes described, people supported the Leviathan to escape the chaotic state of nature. But today,
the world over, people are increasingly uncomfortable with U.S. misuse of power. And poll after poll
reveal that American citizens, too, do not want to bear the costs and responsibilities of empire.

In South Korea, you have thrown off dictatorship, built democratic institutions, and created one of the
strongest civil societies in the world. Recently you held one of the most exciting elections of the last
decade. Now it is our turn to do the same in the United States: so that we can together build an
international system that makes genocide and terrorism of all varieties a thing of the past .

The State Violence and the Dynamics of Redressing the Past in South Korea

Prof. Cho, Hee-Yeon


Sociology. Sungkonghoe Univ, Seoul
chohy@mail.skhu.ac.kr
http://dnsm.skhu.ac.kr

Prof. Park, Eun Hong


Politic. Sungkonghoe Univ, Seoul
ehpark@mail.skhu.ac.kr

1. Introduction

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Over the years, the issue of kwagŏch’ŏngsan (often translated as settling or redressing past injustices) has
been the main focus and task of various South Korean social movements. Usually, the redress deals with
the issues or events of the past whose facts are yet to be disclosed, thus carries an implication of being
acts of justice by the oppressed or the victims. In most cases, the redress focuses on crimes against
humanity such as massacres. In South Korean society, there have been relentless demands for fact finding
and reinstatement of the victims' impaired reputations related the Kwangju Massacre, the Cheju April 3
Incident (or Uprising), and the civilian massacres of the Korean War, whose facts all have remained
undisclosed and the responsible unpunished.
Although only a few studies specifically dealing with the concept of kwagŏch’ŏngsan have been carried
out, there have been a myriad of studies on undisclosed or suppressed cases or massacres. Unlike these
previous studies that are mostly descriptive, this paper aims to construct a general framework of analysis
on the dynamics of the redress of past injustices.
The most representative case to become the focus of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is mass killing or massacres
committed by state power. In the case of South Korea, the Cheju April 3 Incident, the civilian massacres
of the Korean War, and the Kwangju Massacre would fall into this category. Accordingly, there have been
academic and practical attempts to resolve the task of kwagŏch’ŏngsan concerning the massacres. In
academia, many suggestive papers were written dealing with the issue and the ways it should be resolved.
In particular, a considerable amount of case studies have accumulated. On the Kwangju Massacre, a
special fact finding committee published a National Assembly report in 1988 (Oilp'al kwangju
minjuhwaundongjinsangjosa t'ukp'yŏlwiwonhoe 1990). The National Commission on the Cheju April 3
Incident made an official report of the Cheju April 3 Incident (Chejusasamsagŏn chinsanggyumyŏng mit
hŭisaengja myŏngyehoebokwiwonhoe 2003). Furthermore, there have been numerous papers on specific
cases of massacres that have attempted to formulate a general theory on kwagŏch’ŏngsan instead of being
descriptive only.17
This paper examines the dynamics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, which previous studies have failed to consider
from the perspective of political sociology. The process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan in South Korea, far from
being unilinear, is complex, complicated, and tension ridden. I shall attempt to overcome the theoretical
boundary set by the diversity of individual kwagŏch’ŏngsan cases to construct a general theoretical

17 Studies on the civilian massacres of the Korean War by Kang Jeong-gu (1996), Kim
Tong-ch’un (2000), and Han’gukchŏnjaeng chŏnhu

minganinhaksal chinsanggyumyŏng pŏmgukminwiwonhoe (2001) and on the Kwangju struggle by Chŏng Kŭn-shik (2001) are more than case studies as

they attempted to formulate a general theory on kwagŏch’ŏngsan. The special issue of Korea Journal Vol. 42, No. 3 titled “The Issue of Settling the

Past in Modern Korean History) is an attempt to comprehensively analy e the various issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan and to extend the discussion to
z
outside of Korea by dealing with the redress of pro-Japanese
collaboration, the civilian massacres of the Korean War, the redress of the April
19 Revolution period, the suspicious deaths in the dictatorial regime, and the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the transition process to democracy. Aside from these

publications, there are also studies by Pak Won-sun (1996), Kim


Tong-ch’un (2001), Cho Hee-yeon ed. (2001), S
ŏ Sŭng (2000),
Han’gukchŏngshinyŏn’guhoe ed. (1997), Kang Sang-hyŏn (2002), and Yŏksamunjeyŏn’guso, Yŏksahakyŏn’guso, Cheju
sasamyŏn’guso, and
Han’gukyŏksayŏn’guhoe eds. (1998).

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framework for the dynamics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.

2. Theoretical Background

Kwagŏch’ŏngsan, or redressing the past injustices, refers to a process that includes fact-finding of abuse
of power and crimes against humanity committed by a state or a group in power and realizing justice by
punishing the violators and compensating the victims. In every case of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, uncovering or
vindication of suppressed truth is always involved. There is also a dichotomy of the crime(s) and
criminal(s) verses the victim(s). In this sense, redress is only possible through long-term struggles and
efforts by the victims who have been constrained in pursuing fact-finding and justice by the power of the
criminals.
Generally, the precondition of redress is a political shift. When the old regime is replaced with a new one
by mass resistance from below, a judicatory process demanding legal and moral responsibilities of the
'criminal'18 acts of the state begins. In the case of a regime with low support from its people attempting to
maintain its existence by severe state violence but fails, a demand for kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the old regime's
state violence that are criminal in nature is usually made. If the state violence under the old regime
includes crimes against humanity19 like barbaric massacre, genocide, or torture, the need for and the
legitimacy of redress becomes greater, ultimately becoming a moral responsibility. Such a process is
generally called yoksach'ongsan (redress of history) or kwagŏch’ŏngsan. The reason why the process of
bringing justice to the Jewish holocaust under the German Nazis has been continued to this day since the
end of World War II can be explained in this context. In South Korea, the efforts to punish the ruling
power as the totalitarian dictatorship is replaced by a democratic system through a mass resistance from
below, as in the case of the June Great Democratic Struggle of 1987, developed into a form of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
But then what makes something an object of redress? Such a question arises because not all acts of the
old regime are considered objects of redress. As a matter of fact, there is no clear line distinguishing one
from the other. An act becomes an object of redress and punishment when it is defined as unethical and
immoral from the perspective of the people whose consciousness has been changed. Especially,
massacres, rape, extreme racial discrimination, and genocide become objects of redress as they are
defined to be arbitrary violence of the state or abuse of power. In this sense, a question of whether the act
was legal or illegal at the time when it was carried out is unimportant. Torture was and is illegal from the
18 Here, what is ‘criminal or illegal’ may differ according to the opinions of the people of the new regime. Often
, when the activities, such as anti-dictatorship
s
struggle , which have been legally oppressed and repressed by the old regime gain
the wide support of the people, the very legal acts of oppression and

repression become the objects of redress and punishment in the new regime. In particular, acts that violate the universal rights guaranteed by democracy such as

torture and massacres become the prime objects of redress.

19 It is estimated that 3,000 persons were killed by torture and more than 100,000 people have disappeared during the military rule of Pinochet who came into

power after having overthrown the Allende regime in 1973. It is also reported that 30,000 people in Argentina have disappeared as a result of the Junta’s ‘dirty

t
war’ carried out against the lef ists. In 1974, 200,000 or so East Timorese out of a total population of 800,000 were killed during the Indonesian occupation after

the withdrawal of the Portuguese.

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moment it is committed while a garrison decree had an effect of a positive law when it was promulgated.
Nevertheless, what was considered legal may be re-defined as unjust or illegal according to the
developments of politics and people's consciousness. Of course, even the most extreme acts of violence
that are justified as legitimate acts of the state must have a consensus among rulers, the very actors of
such deeds. With this consensus as a premise, the acts of the old regime become the objects of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan. In this sense, redress deals with the violence of the old regime that has gained the
consensus of the people that such was unethical and immoral. In other words, the redress of past
injustices carries with it an ethical dimension.
If so, then what determines its ethical dimension? It is the victims, or broadly speaking, the subjectivity of
the people, such as an awareness of rights. The acts that become objects of redress may not be considered
illegal at the time when they are carried out. However, unethical acts may become illegal as people
become increasingly aware of their rights through various struggles against the ruling system that have
maintained diverse forms of oppression, discrimination, and inhumane violence. The reason why tyranny
and atrocities of the rulers and the abuse of state once thought to be the ruler's prerogative is questioned is
due to an increase in awareness of people’s rights.
The subject of redress also broadens as the degree of the people's subjectivity increases. For example, the
massacres of Gypsies during the Medieval Age, oppression of gay and lesbians, and violent repression of
pagans themselves have never been raised as issues but were buried and forgotten as historical facts. 20
However, with the development of democracy and changes in people's awareness of their rights, the issue
of redress is expanded and realized through democratic and institutionalized channels. In fact, the
declaration of human rights as universal values by the United Nations Human Rights Declaration and the
recent establishment of the International Court of Justice by the international community to punish crimes
against humanity are prime examples of such development and change.
People’s struggles to reform a regime sometimes take the form of revolution that results in a
revolutionary change of the ruling system. However, most often, such struggles are in the form of passive
revolution demanding reform of the ruling system. The changes in the ruling system are carried out using
various means ranging from active to passive revolution. When such changes occur, a new regime comes
into power with the question of dealing with the discrimination, oppression, and inhumane violence
committed by the old regime. In particular, when a consensus is formed amongst the people that
recognized past oppression and discrimination carried out by the old regime as inhumane and immoral,
the issue of redressing these acts of oppression and discrimination is naturally raised.
In addition, the actors who commit such oppression and discrimination may be individuals or the state
itself. In the case of individuals, their acts are prosecuted and punished by the state, however, when the
actions are taken by the state itself, there is no higher authority to punish the state. For this reason,

20 In the case of
homosexuals and lesbians, Sŏ Tong-jin (1993) traces how homosexual identity was established through transition from an

oppressive period when it was considered a sin or disease


through to modern society.

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kwagŏch’ŏngsan is closely related to state power.21 Therefore, kwagŏch’ŏngsan primarily concerns the
abuse and arbitrary use of violence by state power (Stohl and Lopez eds. 1994). In the context of modern
society, kwagŏch’ŏngsan is especially demanded when the acts of the ruling power go beyond the
boundary of modern legality and become acts of violence considered to be inhumane and immoral. In
fact, the concept of state power implies that there is a consensus that the state’s violence towards its
people is legitimate. However, kwagŏch’ŏngsan is the very process of questioning such legitimacy of
state violence.22 Nevertheless, this violence always involves a certain kind of violence that is ruthless,
thus, it refers to state violence in a broad sense.
A clear difference exists in the nature of questioning state violence in pre-modern and modern societies.
Kwagŏch’ŏngsan examined in this paper is the redresses premised on modern democracy. Of course,
kwagŏch’ŏngsan was demanded even in pre-modern society. For example, there were cases of honor
restoration of a family who have been wrongfully defamed (pyegamangshin) or ‘wrongful deaths’ of the
past thrones during the Chosŏn period. There were also numerous cases where particular past grievances
were settled by the supreme ruler. Be that as it may, the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the pre-modern period
usually depended on the subjective attitude or good will of the ruler. In other words, redress depended on
the attitude change of the very person who had the capacity to wield state violence. However, in modern
democratic society that has since undergone a revolution, redress is carried out in an institutional manner
through legal channels. The difference between the pre-modern and modern periods is whether
kwagŏch’ŏngsan takes the form of a legal procedure or is resolved in a court of justice. This is because a
change of relation between the people and the ruler took place in modern democratic society and as a
result, the people are able to question the illegitimacy of the state power through various legal procedures
or through collective action. Therefore, in modern democratic society, state power is never made
legitimate unconditionally. A political space is created where the people can demand justice in the case of
abuse or the illegal use of state violence that goes against the principles of democracy. When the power of
the state is abused to maintain the status quo or used in illegal means to oppress the dissenting struggle
resulting in deaths of innocent people, an opportunity arises within the democratic institution to make a
legal complaint. It is possible for immoral acts of violence committed by the state in a certain period to be
seen as legitimate through the ruling ideology or in the name of a higher purpose like national security. At
the time of the violence, they may have been legitimized by the laws of society. Sometimes, they are
justified as a means to overcome national ‘crisis’ in the sense of sacrificing the minority for the majority.
21
State power, the subject of criminal acts, is often exercised by oppressive state
organs—organs with physical power like the army and the police—and state agents.
However, sometimes, civilian groups like militia or foreign powers like the US may
also be involved in the use of state power. In the case of the civilian massacres of
the Vietnam War, the Korean Army was the foreign power that committed atrocities.
22
The reason why state violence (or state power) committed by a past regime
becomes the focus of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is because even if the power of the ruler is
recognized and legitimized through legal means, it does not mean every use of that
power is legitimized.

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Nevertheless, these acts of violence are re-defined as inhumane or undemocratic, thus, the demand to
redress these past ‘crimes’ are made.23
As discussed so far, kwagŏch’ŏngsan has the following features that are distinguished from simply
punishing past criminal acts. First, there has to be a social consensus determining a past act as inhumane.
Regardless of whether such an act falls under the prerogative of the absolute ruler, if a common
understanding sets in that it is inhumane and immoral and must be brought to justice, then grounds for the
demand of redress are created. In other words, kwagŏch’ŏngsan contains an ethical dimension. Second,
therefore, the redress concerns acts such as torture, massacre, rape, genocide, etc., or certain tolerated or
necessary acts used to maintain a regime, such as war. To be sure, deaths of civilians accompany war.
Many people also die in power struggles. However, what the redress targets is an act of violence that was
unnecessary and inhumane but was carried out for a certain political purpose. In this sense, the object of
redress is unrelated to the fact of whether it was legal or not at the time. Third, the most important theme
of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is state power or the arbitrary use of violence. In other words, when the ruling power
or institution of power abuses the very power it has been given the right to use, the legitimacy of abuse
comes into question and redress is demanded. Fourth, kwagŏch’ŏngsan is a modern phenomenon in
nature. This is because laws or institutions guarantee resistance against the abuse of state power under
modern democracy. Under modern democracy, there is a rule for the use of state power, the so called rule
of domination by the people. However, when excessive violence, inhumane discrimination, or an arbitrary
act that goes against such rule is committed, that act will become an object of redress later on. Fifth,
kwagŏch’ŏngsan is raised as an issue or is demanded at a time of political change, the reason being that
the people’s awareness of their rights increases and more people become critical of the criminal acts of
their past rulers as they experience political change.
Having considered the general features of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, it is now important to realize that individual
cases of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, in reality, do not take a single form but are very diverse. They take not a
unilinear process but a very complex and complicated one. First, an opportunity for kwagŏch’ŏngsan
arises with political change. When the ruling regime or ruler who has committed injustice is overthrown,
an opportunity is provided for the demand of redress. However, how this political change is carried out
directly affects how or in what form kwagŏch’ŏngsan will be realized. In other words, kwagŏch’ŏngsan
will take different forms depending on whether the old regime is overthrown by a revolution from below
or a compromise from above.
23
See Cho Hee-yeon (2002) for state violence and the victims of the democratic
struggle. In principle, the relief of serious human rights violations like civilian
massacres includes honor restoration, compensation, punishment of the violators,
and preventative measures (Kang Kŭm-shil 2002: 266). The general principles of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan are best shown by the five great principles on the resolution of the
Kwangju question. The demands of the May movement—Fact finding, punishment of
the criminals, compensation, honor restoration, and commemorative activities—
became an important guideline for other kwagŏch’ŏngsan cases (Chŏng Kŭn-shik
2001).

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In the case of revolutionary transition from below, reforms or restoration would be carried out by a
completely new group of people. Having no ties to the old regime, they would be able to carry out
kwagŏch’ŏngsan without compromise. For example, in France after the bourgeois revolution, the
oppression and tyranny of the ancient regime were considered to be anti-national crimes and the people
associated with the old regime were guillotined. The radical and uncompromising kwagŏch’ŏngsan that
was carried out in France after the collapse of Germany Nazism is another example.24
On the contrary, in the case of political change of a compromise from above with the old ruling power
taking the initiative, a kwagŏch’ŏngsan takes on a very complex process with contested characteristics.
On the complexity of kwagŏch’ŏngsan attempted after a political change from above, the degree of
complexity is elevated by the fact that certain issues of redress fail to be raised while some realized
redresses fail to bring complete justice. In particular, when the continuity of the old regime in the new
regime is strong, it becomes much harder to raise the issue of kwagŏch’ŏngsan. As a result, the issues to
be redressed are isolated and marginalized and all responsibilities are handed down to the victims who
now must engage in a new and difficult struggle to realize the redress. As the victims carry out a long and
hard struggle to re-raise the issue of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, they may gain another opportunity to realize it. If
the issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan that were raised to deal with the remnants of the old regime after a political
change are called ‘current issues,’ these past issues that failed to be raised the first time and remained
unsettled can be called ‘historical issues.’ Current issues of redress are those that are raised immediately
as current affair issues after the change of the regime. However, historical issues are raised when the
victims or dissenting groups rebuild their struggles to raise the forgotten or marginalized issues back to
the level of public discourse.
Contested characteristics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan are mainly due to the resistance of the old ruling power or
related people. Since redress includes punishment and investigation of state violence committed by the
old regime, they are inevitably confronted with the strong resistance from individuals—sometimes even
their descendents—or groups who were once part of the old regime. In other words, surviving individuals
or groups of the old regime mobilize institutional or non-institutional means at their disposal to resist any
attempt by the victims or advocacy groups to demand kwagŏch’ŏngsan, which will eventually demand
justice and punishment.25 Especially, in the case of a compromising transition when the individuals or

24
In August 1944, when Paris was liberated from German occupation, France
immediately opened a Court of Justice to deal with Nazi collaborators. As a result,
more than 990,000 Nazi collaborators were sentenced. Among them, 6,700 were
executed, 2,700 sent to hard labor for life, 10,000 sent to hard labor, and 22,800
were imprisoned (Chu Sŏp-il 1999). Of course, complete political break and harsh
punishment do not have to be simultaneous. Han Hong-gu (2003: 106) argues that
“even if the independent fighters including the Provisional Government group came
into power, the scope of injŏkch’ŏngsan (redress and punishment of individuals)
would not be wide as what happened in France.”
25
After Nelsen Mandela took power in South Africa in 1994, the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission was formed to investigate the apartheid of the old
regime and other criminal acts without ‘punishment.’ Nevertheless, it was met with

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groups of the old regime maintain strong institutional or non-institutional power, a much stronger
resistance will be made against any attempt of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
Of course, there are differences between current issues and historical issues. One difference is the
expiration of statutory limitation for prosecution. Current issues are those whose statutory limitations
have not expired whereas for historical issues, their statutory limitations have expired and thus are not
concerned with the prosecution of the violators. For example, the issue of ch’inilch’ŏngsan (redressing
pro-Japanese collaboration) raised during the Kim Dae-jung government, popularly called the people’s
government, is an example of the latter while the demand of a fact-finding investigation of the torture of
Kim Kŭn-t’ae in the Kim Young-sam government, also known as the civilian government, would fall into
the former category. Of course, such a difference can be eliminated as the National Assembly takes legal
measures to suspend the period of statutory limitation or legislate a retrospective law as in the cases of the
Jewish Holocaust. Nevertheless, historical issues mainly concern ethical and political dimensions and not
the punishment of the crime. Therefore, there is a clear difference in how strong the violators resist
depending on whether the redress is a current or historical issue.
In addition, the resistance to kwagŏch’ŏngsan does not always come from the violators themselves. Any
individual or group in the present time who is tied to the past in question or who has ideological
legitimacy in association with the past can resist the redress. For example, in March 2003, an old cylinder
printer of the Chosŏn Ilbo was removed from Independence Hall. It was strongly resisted by the Chosŏn
Ilbo since the issue of pro-Japanese collaboration at the time of the removal was closely related to the
ethical legitimacy of the Chosŏn Ilbo whose records during Japanese colonialism are in question.
The resistance of the old ruling power is primarily directed towards deterring the process of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan becoming a social issue. Their efforts to hinder such a process are carried out using their
institutional and non-institutional power—it includes the media. The next step is to interfere with the
attempt to perform fact-finding investigations on torture, suspicious deaths, and massacres committed
under the old regime. Sometimes, they denounce kwagŏch’ŏngsan as “an attempt to hinder social unity
by uncovering the past,’ destroy the evidence, deny accusations, or intentionally withhold information to
make investigation difficult. Instead of admitting wrongdoings and seeking forgiveness from the victims
by disclosing the truth, they consistently resist the fact-findings by denying their guilt and evade any
responsibility. Once this fails, they then try to minimize the scope of compensation and honor restoration
of the past victims in the process of redress or, if everything fails, uncooperatively participate in the
process. In such circumstances, kwagŏch’ŏngsan would be carried out incompletely or as a token gesture.
In the presence of threats from the violators or social psychological pressures resisting the redress,
another possibility would be a demand of impunity from the victims. Unlike the resistance from the old
ruling power, such a demand of impunity from the victims adds further complexity to the contested
characteristics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.

repeated interference or terrorist threats.

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Based on what has been discussed so far, kwagŏch’ŏngsan are present struggles around past issues
(Hirsch 1995). It is ‘here and now’ in that its nature and scope are determined by present power relations.
A discussion on the concept of ‘political space for redressing past injustices’ may be useful here.26
Political space for redressing past injustices implies that an opportunity to put forth a political and social
agenda to re-examine the criminal state violence committed under the past regime is given. In this sense,
kwagŏch’ŏngsan is not a historical excavation but a present struggle. This political space for redressing
the past injustices itself is the product of class struggle and on-going struggles to demand redress are an
extension of class and social struggle. In other words, power relations formed by present class and social
struggle defines and determines the complexity of kwagŏch’ŏngsan. Thus, the political space for
redressing past injustices defines the qualitative characteristic of kwagŏch’ŏngsan. In this sense, this
paper is able to put forward the expression of a ‘political sociological analysis of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.’
Going back to the previous discussion, such political space for redressing past injustices is characterized
by the structural or macroscopic power relations, on one hand, and a specific mode according to present
struggles taking place in the matrix of power relations. Related to the former, the macroscopic
characteristic of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is determined by the general nature of political change—whether it is a
revolution overthrowing the old regime from below or a compromise from above—as mentioned above.
A redress cannot take place outside the terrain generated by the present power struggle. In the case of
South Korea after 1987, when the old ruling power had succeeded in its return to office, it was impossible
for redress to take a revolutionary form.
However, despite such a limitation, the form of kwagŏch’ŏngsan or yŏksach’ŏngsan may differ
depending on the subjective activities in the space ‘here and now.’ Moreover, this space for redressing the
past injustices can be expanded to a certain degree as the bereaved families or social movement continue
to raise the level of struggle.27 Here, the scope of kwagŏch’ŏngsan depends on how hard the bereaved
families or social movement struggle to try to generate a social issue. The transition from the old to the
new regime provides a minimum space for redressing past injustices. Unlike the past, a space is created
where a redress of a past injustice can be publicly demanded. Nevertheless, such a space does not
automatically lead to kwagŏch’ŏngsan. It is the struggle of the bereaved families or social movement
against the resistance of the actors of the past injustices that leads to the redress.

3. Kwagŏch’ŏngsan in the Liberation and the April 19 Revolution Periods and Their Failures

With such a theoretic framework, I will now examine the various struggles and rows that took place
around the issue of redress found in contemporary Korean history. Political changes in certain periods
26 Another concept for such political space could be Tarrow’s concept of ‘political opportunities’ (Tarrow 1994). Political opportunities are determined by the

structural characteristic of change such as change from below or change from above.

27 According to Chŏng Kŭn-shik (2001), in the beginning of the struggle for kwagŏch’ŏngsan, it was the survivors or bereaved families with puch’aeŭishik (a

feeling of indebtedness) to the deaths who started the movement. However, as the truths were disclosed by the efforts of these people, yet another feeling of

indebtedness emerges among the people toward the initiators of the movement.

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after liberation provided opportunities for the issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan to be on the social agenda in
Korean society. First, the period between the liberation and the end of the Korean War was a period of
class and social struggles centered on the issue of defining the characteristics of the Korean nation-state
(it includes the task of ch’inilch’ŏngsan, redressing and punishing pro-Japanese collaboration).
After liberation, Korean society had, on one hand, the task of nation building while on the other hand, the
task of removing the vestiges of Japanese colonialism. The main objective related to the latter task would
be kwagŏch’ŏngsan. As mentioned already, the fate of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is heavily dependent on the
characteristics of the political space at the time. For example, once the US military government changed
its plan from building a joint government of the Left and Right to a building an anti-communist pro-
American government, ch’inilch’ŏngsan confronted a huge political obstacle. Those supposed to be
brought to justice on charge of being in the pro-Japanese group, the ch’inilp’a, began resisting in various
ways to frustrate the efforts to realize ch’inilch’ŏngsan. Moreover, having transformed to anti-
Communists, these ch’inilp’a were able to succeed in de-prioritizing the task of ch’inilch’ŏngsan in the
protection of the US. Looking at more closely, the National Assembly legislated the “Act on the
Punishment of Korean Traitors”, Sept. 22, 1948 and by Sept. 1949, the Special Commission for Korean
Traitors, Panmintŭkwi, processed a total of 682 cases involving 305 pro-Japanese figures who were
arrested, 173 remaining wanted, and 61 who gave themselves up. As a result, 559 persons were sent to the
special prosecutor and 202 were charged. One person was sentenced to death while one received life in
prison. Aside from these two, twelve served prison sentences, eighteen had their rights suspended, six
were cleared of their charges, and two had their sentences discharged. Even those imprisoned were all
free by 1950. Nevertheless, the task of ch’inilch’ŏngsan was never fulfilled as the members of the Special
Commission were terrorized and condemned as pro-communists while the accused defended themselves
by calling themselves the patriots who subjugated the Communist Party. The fate of the Special
Commission came to an end as armed policemen attacked its office following an order from President
Rhee Syngman who was pressured by the Right on June 6, 1949 (Kim Chin-kuk and Chŏng Ch’ang-hyŏn
2000: 71). Furthermore, with the assassination of Kim Ku, pen name Paekpŏm, 20 days later, the task of
ch’inilch’ŏnsan was quickly turning into a historical issue due to the terror of the Right. As such, the
struggle of kwagŏch’ŏngsan around the issue of ch’inilch’ŏngsan during the liberation period ended short
of its aim and as the division of the Korean peninsula began to set in place, the task of kwagŏch’ŏngsan
was also marginalized and the process came to a halt.
The Korean War changed the urgency of ch’inilch’ŏngsan into something historical and at the same time
created another issue for kwagŏch’ŏngsan, the civilian massacres. This issue deals with various civilian
massacres committed during the Korean War, including the civilian massacres carried out during the
Cheju April 3 Uprising.28 The civilian massacres during and after the Korean War consist of mass killings
of civilians by the US, South Korean Army special forces, police, and non-regular militia like

28 For more information on the Cheju April 3 Uprising, see Chemin Ilbo April 3 Reporting Team (1994-1998) and Yang Cho-hun (1998).

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Sŏbukch’ŏngryŏndan (Sŏbuk Youth Corp) that make up one category as South Korean Right and the
killings by the Left which include North Korean People’s Army, partisans, and local leftists. The killings
were known to be indiscriminate as the members of Podoyŏnmaeng from south of Py’ŏngtaek, detainees,
residents of the remote areas, refugees, rebels, communists, and other innocent civilians were killed. 29
Furthermore, it was not only the North and South Korean armies, the US army also committed massacres.
Unlike conventional acts of war, these civilian massacres were carried out in revenge or as plain ruthless
acts, thus they have become an issue for kwagŏch’ŏngsan. However, they were suppressed by the
conditions created by anti-communist sentiment that prevailed in South Korea after the Korean War.
Another important struggle of kwagŏch’ŏngsan took place after the Rhee Syngman regime was
overthrown by the April 19 Revolution, a student and civilian led revolution in the 1950s. After the
success of the revolution, a myriad of kwagŏch’ŏngsan issues were raised to deal with those who were
responsible for the killing of demonstrators, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, and even the unsettled
ch’inilch’ŏngsan and civilian massacres during and after the Korean War (Sawolhyŏkmyŏngyŏnguso ed.
1990: 361-2). If the corrupted election and political corruptions of the Rhee Syngman regime that started
the April 19 Revolution were the ‘current issues’ of kwagŏch’ŏngsan, then, ch’inilch’ŏngsan and civilian
massacre issues were ‘historical issues.’
New political space for kwagŏch’ŏngsan was created. The process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan that was
discontinued in the liberation period was revived again with the emergence of a new political space. With
the amendment of the Constitution in November 1960, four special laws—the Act Restricting the Civic
Rights of Anti-democrats, the Act on the Punishment of Election Frauds, the Special Measure Act on
Unlawful Accumulation of Wealth,30 and the Act on the Organization of Special Court and Special
Inspectors Office—were enacted to partially realize the tasks of kwagŏch’ŏngsan (Kim In-gŏl woe ed.
1998:214). As a result, the Special Inspectors Office was created and 609 high officers of the Rhee
Syngman regime had their civic rights suspended. Since the April 19 Revolution signified a revolutionary
change from the old regime, kwagŏch’ŏngsan in its strictest sense was attempted. The suicide of Vice-
President Yi Ki-bung in relation to the corruption of the presidential election that became the igniter of
the revolution reflects the mood of this revolutionary period. However, as the April 19 Revolution, led by
students and joined by citizens, gave a way to the political parties of the establishment to replace the old
regime, it failed to make a revolutionary reform of state organization. Therefore, despite significant
achievements made in the newly created political space against the institutional and non-institutional
resistance of the old power, the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of this period ended short of its completion.
29
For more information see Chŏnjaenggwa chiptanhaksal (2002) published by
Han’gukchŏnjaeng chŏnhu minganinhaksal chinsanggyumyŏng
pŏmgukminwiwonhoe. In particular, the chapter written by Kang Jeong-gu provide
an excellent general survey of the massacres while chapter 2 gives information on
various individual cases spread out in different regions.
30 The Special Measure Act on Unlawful Accumulation of Wealth was legislated on May 28, 1961, by the order of the Supreme Council of National Rehabilitation
,
and was replaced by the Act on Unlawful Accumulation of Wealth that came into effect on June 14, 1961. As the law on unlawful accumulation of wealth became

more general, the issue of corruption and unlawful accumulation of wealth became vague (Ilwolsŏgak p’yŏnjippu ed. 1983).

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Panmintŭkwi was dissolved in February 1961 with many limitations, such as the failure to find out who
gave the order to fire at the demonstrators during the April 19 Revolution, among others
(Sawolhyŏkmyŏngyŏn’guso ed. 1990: 361-2).
Along with such current issues, the civilian massacres during the Korean War were again brought up as an
issue in the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan at the time. With the public debate on the murder of Pak Yŏng-bo
on May 11, 1960, immediately after the April 19 Revolution, the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the civilian
massacres of the Korean War began in the form of an organized campaign of the bereaved families
demanding fact findings and punishment of the killers. As a result, a seven day investigation team was
formed by the National Assembly on May 31, 1960. However, having police officers involved in the
massacres as members of the investigation team, the investigation was far from being thorough. The
activities the National Assembly on this issue came to an end with a recommendation to legislate a special
measure act on civilian massacres to establish a military, prosecutor, and police joint investigation team
under the executive branch of the government for fact finding and prosecution of those responsible based
on the prohibition of double jeopardy and suspension of statutory limitation and a report of the
investigation which identified 8,716 victims and 10,041 houses damaged found in Kŏch’ang, Kŏje,
Hamyang, Tongrae, Ulsan, Ch’ungmu, Kup’o, Masan, and Sanch’ŏnggun of South Kyŏngsang province,
Munkyŏng of North Kyŏngsang province, Hamp’yŏng of South Chŏlla, and Sunch’anggun of North
Chŏlla (Kim Tong-ch’un 2002: 247).
Unfortunately, even such curtailed kwagŏch’ŏngsan were once again subdued by the establishment of the
‘counter-revolutionary’ Junta regime that came into power in the midst of social confusion after the
revolution. As the power of political and social struggles that erupted with the April 19 Revolution—they
also became the base of the power from below making kwagŏch’ŏngsan possible—was made illegal and
oppressed by the counter-revolutionary repression, kwagŏch’ŏngsan was interrupted. In the same way
that ch’inilch’ŏngsan was marginalized and disrupted by anti-communist US politics and the structure of
division after emerging as an urgent task of the post liberation period, the redressing and punishing of
anti-democratic figures which emerged as the urgent task of the time immediately after the April 19
Revolution had a similar fate since they were stopped by the ‘May 16 Revolution.’ Only a few anti-
democratic figures were punished as a token gesture from above by the Junta regime that lead the May 16
coup d’etat.

Period Theme of Redress Political Conditions and the Process of the Redress
Liberation Redressing the Pro- Korea was liberated from Japanese Colonialism; a political space was
Japanese Collaboration created for the redress of the pro-Japanese collaboration; due to the change
of the policy of the US military government, the Korean War and the
division, the process of redress is halted.
April 19 Punishment of anti- A political space is created for the punishment of anti-democratic
Revolution democratic persons politicians and people involved in election and other frauds after the April
19 Revolution; the efforts by the victims of the historical issues (e.g. the
civilian massacres during the Korean War) that passed on unsettled in the

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liberation period to realize the redress of historical injustices; the campaign


was marginalized after the May 16 military coup; a selective punishment in
an attempt to legitimatize the Junta regime.
1987 June Investigation of The 1987 June Democratic Struggle, the June 19 Declaration, the defeat of
Democratic massacres and the democratization movement camp in the presidential election in
Struggle Punishment of the December; gradual process through continued struggles from below;
dictatorship; investigation further gradual progress through the minority party in office but with many
of suspicious deaths flaws.
under the dictatorship.

In conclusion, it is important to understand that as a political space for redressing the past injustices was
created by the April 19 Revolution, efforts were made again to revive the disrupted process of the past
kwagŏch’ŏngsan. In other words, two different issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan—‘historical issues that were
never completed and the new current issues like election frauds and killings of demonstrators raised by
the revolution—co-existed in the political space for the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the April 19 Revolution
period. With the development of student and reunification movements by reformists that emerged after
the April 19 Revolution, issues of ch’inilch’ŏngsan and the civilian massacres of the Korean War were
rediscovered. At this point, the redress of the civilian massacres took on the form of an identification
campaign centered around the victims while the issue of ch’inilp’a had ethical and political dimensions as
the statutory limitation expired. However, in the case of current issues, kwagŏch’ŏngsan focused on
redressing and punishing particular individuals or groups responsible for the atrocities, thus, took on the
form of a struggle and social tension.

4. The Dynamics of Kwagŏch’ŏngsan During the Transition to Democracy After 1987

On May 16, 1961, South Korea entered the age of military authoritarian regimes that lasted for 27 years.
Ruled by totalitarian dictators these regimes openly used state violence such as massacres, tortures, and
oppression. However, a mass resistance rose up from below in the latter half of the 1970s. By June 1987,
the resistance came to a climax with a so called democratic struggle which pushed South Korea into a
new period of transition to democracy. It meant the end of the Junta regimes that lasted a quarter century
due to the class and social struggle of the Korean masses from below and the creation of the atmosphere
for the demand of kwagŏch’ŏngsan with regards to the various criminal acts of state violence committed
by the Junta regime.
Up until the June Democratic Struggle in 1987, there existed two roads toward democratization in South
Korea. First was the path to ‘conservative democratization from above’ and the other was the path to
‘radical democratization from below.’ The former path is a road of comprise whereas the second path is a
road to revolution. As I have pointed out already, the June Democratic Struggle in 1987 was a climax of
the tide of anti-dictatorship and democratic struggles that grew out from the decades of the 1960s and 70s.
The tide culminated into a grand struggle where more than a million people, including students and

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middle class citizens, came onto the streets sending a warning to the military regime that its time had ran
out. However, the struggle was halted as it accepted a gesture of democratization shown by the regime to
weather its crisis, the June 29 Declaration, and secured a direct presidential election, far from its original
intention of overthrowing the Junta regime. Its failure became clearer in the following direct presidential
election when Roh Tae-woo, from the military, won the presidency in the midst of a break up of between
Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam, leaders of the anti-dictatorship and democratic movement. This
signified that the demilitarization of the ruling regime took the path of conservative democratization from
above and not the path of radical democratization from below. In this context, such structural limitations
of the political change of the time created another political space for kwagŏch’ŏngsan but also drew very
tight boundaries around it to the point that a new struggle had to be fought to make further progress on
kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
The path of conservative democratization from above taken at that time took on a more concrete form in
the minsŏngunpujŏnggwon (elected military regime) as the Junta regime succeed in restoring its power
through a revolution through election. Afterwards, it maintained its power through a three party merger
creating a new political party that was able to win over the moderates of the anti-dictatorship and
democratic movement in March 1990. If the former strategy of winning the election after dampening the
strength of the June struggle with the announcement of the June 29 Declaration led to the birth of the Roh
Tae-woo government, the Kim Young-sam government was the result of the latter strategy of preserving
the power by joining hands with friendly opposition politicians such as the party merger in 1990.
Nevertheless, there have been continuous struggles from below to carry out kwagŏch’ŏngsan despite the
structural limitations of the politics of the period, the path of conservative democratization from above.
Most important, the structural limitations clamping down on the kwagŏch’ŏngsan do not operate as
structural determinism might suggest. Instead, these limitations are the result of a structural selection of
strategies taken in mutual interactions of the old power bloc and the resistant movement.
The basic response of the Roh Tae-woo government on kwagŏch’ŏngsan was to oppress it while there
was a struggle from the outside by the minority party and civic organizations to realize the redress by
force. Fortunately, the minority party controlled National Assembly was able to push for kwagŏch’ŏngsan
through National Assembly hearings on Kwangju and the corruption during the fifth Republic. However,
the efforts to redress the Kwangju Massacres and punish the criminals ended short of their aims with a
compromise—the apology of the former president Chun Doo-hwan and his seclusion at Paektan Temple.
Despite such a compromising and mediocre settlement among the established politicians, the efforts from
below to realize kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the past dictatorships continued. On the contrary, the Kim Young-
sam government was a product of a coalition of a group of anti-dictatorship minority party politicians and
the old political power rooted in the past dictatorships. Having such a background, the former anti-
dictatorship minority party politicians naturally sought to make a compromise from above on the issues of
redress. In the process, the civilian government redefined the Kwangju People’s Struggle as the Kwangju

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Democratization Movement and ruled that the December 12 Incident was a coup. Obviously, such redress
of past injustices had great limitation. The overarching limitation given by the path of ‘conservative
democratization from above’, which was carried over to the Kim Young-sam government from the Roh
Tae-woo government, was that kwagŏch’ŏngsan had to be carried out on a limited basis, and even then,
only for the most extreme injustices like massacres committed during the Junta regime.
The most successful fight against the impunity of kwagŏch’ŏngsan from below was the campaign to
punish the murders of the Kwangju Massacre. In 1994, a campaign for the legislation of a special law and
the arrest of the conspirators of the May 18 Rebellion was initiated as the year when the statutory
limitation on any criminal prosecution related to the Kwangju Massacre was due to expire in 1995. On
July 18, 1995, when a decision by the court that the prosecution of any acts committed during the period
from the declaration of the state of emergency on May 18 to the inauguration of President Chun Doo-
hwan had no grounds for prosecution was announced, a full-scale struggle for the arrests of Chun Doo-
hwan and Roh Tae-woo was sparked. Many intellectuals participated in this struggle that led to the arrests
of former presidents Chun and Roh due to the efforts of the Kim Young-sam government (Kang Nam-hun
1997). Be that as it may, the kwagŏch’ŏngsan under the Kim Young-sam government met with the same
fate its predecessors confronted, which was an incomplete and superficial process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
Before moving on, I would like to examine two laws related to kwagŏch’ŏngsan enacted by the Kim
Young-sam government. First, the act related to the compensation of people related to the Kwangju
democratization movement was enacted on August 6, 1990 to compensate and reinstate impaired
reputations of people who were killed, harmed, imprisoned, fired from work, or removed from the
citizens’ register, and to give legal basis for the commemoration activities and construction of a cemetery.
However, this law—although its enactment had to be won by a struggle from below—provides a good
example how incomplete the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan was carried out as it failed to address the
demands of fact finding and the punishment of injustices, thus, removing the Kwangju democratization
movement from the sphere of kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
As I have mentioned above, the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is a complex process that should be
understood in the interaction of the regime or the ruling power and the people from below, or from the
kwagŏch’ŏngsan movement itself. In this sense, even a small achievement of kwagŏch’ŏngsan
contributes to the further development of the struggle from below. In this case, the arrests of Chun and
Roh lead to a further development of the kwagŏch’ŏngsan movement related to the Kwangju
democratization movement. The efforts went beyond just seeking compensation to the demand for the
punishment of the murderers that crystallized in the form of legislation of the special law related to the
May 18 democratization movement. Promulgated in December 1995, this law prescribes the period
between May 18, 1980, and February 24, 1993 as the period when the state was restricted to pursue any
prosecution and interprets that the statutory limitation was suspended in this period making possible the
punishment of those who were responsible for the Kwangju Massacre. Furthermore, it also stipulates that

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anyone who was tried and found guilty related to the May 18 democratization movement would be given
a retrial and gives legal basis to the commemoration of the democratization movement. Interestingly, it
also showed a change of attitude by the government when it considered that the ‘compensation’ already
given by the act related to the compensation of people related to the May 18 democratization movement
was indeed, ‘reparations.’ This goes to show that however incomplete or marginalized the process of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan is, further struggles from below may lead to its continuation and development to a
higher level.
Like the previous periods, there has also been some progress on the historical issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan
under the Kim Young-sam government. The prime example is the Special Measure Act related to the
reinstatement of the impaired reputation of people related to the Kŏch’ang Incident. Many innocent
civilians were killed during and after the Korean War, not by the war itself but by the South Korean army,
police, the US army and right wing youth corps. Such killings include massacres that swept through entire
villages or regions. After having been deterred in the April 19 Revolution period, a small flame of the
kwagŏch’ŏngsan of civilian massacres has been kept alive by the bereaved families in individual cases of
the in different regions such as Hampyŏng, Yŏsun, Kŏch’ang, and Mungyŏng, among others. In
particular, the kwagŏch’ŏngsan campaign for the Kŏch’ang Incident gained momentum as the bereaved
families, victims, and concerned people pressured the government to identify the deaths, compensate the
victims, and carry out commemoration activities. Although, it was the only issue to be redressed, however
limited, it showed that it is possible for even a 40 year old historical issue of kwagŏch’ŏngsan to be
reopened for redress.

Table 2. Kwagŏch’ŏngsan laws legislated under the Kim Young-sam government.


Type Title Date Content Background
Current Act related to the 1990. Compensates and reinstates impaired reputations The issue of fact-finding for
Issues compensation of 8.6. of people who were killed, harmed, imprisoned, the Kwangju Masscre and
people related to fired from work, and removed from the citizens’ prosecuting those responsible
the Kwangju register. became not only important
democratic issue for the victims but was
movement the main concern of the social
Commemoration activities and construction of a movement. A public hearing
cemetery. was held during the Roh Tae-
Special Act related 1995. Suspends the statutory limitation on the criminal woo government. A related law
to the May 18 12.21 acts committed during the Kwangju Massacre. was legislated followed by the
Democratization Prescribes the period from May 18, 1990, to Feb. enactment of a special law
Movement 24, 1993 as a period when obstacles existed for the related to the prosecution and
state to pursue prosecution, and based on such fact-finding.
grounds, the statutory limitation was considered
suspended during this period making possible the
prosecution of the people responsible for the
massacre.
Historic Special Measure 1996. Identification of the victims and bereaved families Although the issue of civilian
al Act related to the 1.5. of the incident. massacres during the Korean
Issues reinstatement of War has been oppressed since

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impaired the May 16 coup, the bereaved


reputations of families and victims continued
people related to Reinstates impaired reputations of people who the movement.
the Kŏchang
Incident were killed and of the bereaved families.
Commemoration activities and construction of a
cemetery and a memorial monument.

In the following period, the birth of the people’s government—the Kim Dae-jung government—signified
something of a reverse turn from the path of conservative democratization from above. If the Roh and
Kim Young-sam governments succeeded in the reproduction of the old regime through ‘adaptations’ of
the ruling power, the establishment of the people’s government—despite its affiliation with the Liberal
Democrats United—meant the beginning of an anti-dictatorship opposition party government. As a result,
a new political space much broader than the past was created. This directly lead to the implementation of
much more institutionalized means to carry out kwagŏch’ŏngsan that went beyond the legislation of
related laws. This is what I would call a reverse of turn.
Nevertheless, such a reverse turn could not exist outside the macroscopic limits generated by the
conservative democratization from above that had occurred since 1987. Specifically, the macroscopic
limits have their origin in the coalition of the Kim Dae-jung government with the Liberal Democrats
United, a marginal political party of the old ruling power bloc. On the one hand, the new government was
progressive in that it was the first opposition party government. However, on the other hand, it had a dual
characteristic from birth in that it was created by a coalition; it was not a break from the old ruling power.
As a result, the process of reforms of the Kim Dae-jung government, including kwagŏch’ŏngsan, were
complicated. Such a complex of duality is reflected in the process of various redresses under the people’s
government in that the political space for such redresses was expanded, but with tension existing between
the macroscopic limits such as strong resistance from the old ruling power and the struggles from below.

5. The Dynamics of Kwagŏch’ŏngsan under the Kim Dae-jung government

This section examines how dynamically the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan was carried out. In other words, I
will attempt to analyze the dynamics of the process of compensation and honor restoration related to state
crimes and violence committed during the military dictatorship after the establishment of the Kim Dae-
jung government, the first opposition party to come to office in 50 years, also referred to as "the people's
government", with the macroscopic limitation of 'compromised democracy from above.'
I will start by examining the redress related laws legislated under the "people's government." The change
of government by the minority party for the first time in 50 years has expanded the political space for
redress and, as presented in Table 3, various laws related to redress were legislated. Most important,

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various issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan related to oppressions of the past regime were discussed and efforts to
settle them were made. What could be called current issues of kwagŏch'ŏngsan include fact-finding
investigations of suspicious deaths (ŭimunsa), and honor restoration of those involved in the
democratization movement, among others. Generally speaking, these acts can be divided into four
categories. Accordingly, the act related to honor restoration and compensation of persons related to the
democratization movement, the act to commemorate the democratization movement, the special act
related to the fact-finding investigation of suspicious deaths, and the act related to the treatment of
bereaved families of the Kwangju massacre. Second, the act related to the fact-finding investigation and
honor restoration of persons related to the Cheju 4-3 Incident was legislated in the effort to tackle issues
of historical kwagŏch’ŏngsan that remained unsettled. Lastly, as a preventative measure, the National
Human Rights Commission of Korea Act was enacted. In addition to these, there is the act on the
commemoration of the democratization movement to pass on the spirit of the movement to the future
generation through various commemorative activities by the state.
Looking at them in detail, the first act related to the democratization movement to be legislated and is the
act related to the compensation of the democratization movement proposed by the both ruling and
opposition party members of the National Assembly on July 9, 1999, and promulgated on December 28,
1999. In the following year, the act related to the honor restoration and compensation of people related to
the democratization movement was promulgated on January 12 after being signed by the president.
Another act related to the democratization movement is the special act related to the fact finding of
suspicious deaths. The draft of the act was proposed by the National Association of Bereaved Families for
National Democracy (president Pae Ŭn-shim) and the revised version of the draft was passed at the
general session on December 28, 1999, along with the democratization movement compensation act.31
Originally, the act prescribed the period between December 17, 2000 to September 16, 2002 as the term
of the fact finding investigation. However, the term of the fact finding commission on suspicious deaths
that supervised the fact finding was extended one more year through a revision on November 2002.
Lastly, another act related to the democratization movement is the act on commemorating the
democratization movement. The proposal for the legislation of this act was first initiated by the
Democracy Foundation in 1999. The initiative was developed further into a campaign by People’s
Solidarity for the Succession of the Spirit of Democratization Movement formed in April 2000. This act
provides a legal basis for the state to establish semi-governmental organization(s) for the commemoration
of the democratization movement.32 The commemorative activities include construction of the
Democratic Movement memorial hall and democratic memorial park, collecting, archiving, systematizing
and researching historical documents, democracy education, awareness campaigns, and supporting the

31 For historical and social significance of the movement for the fact finding of suspicious deaths see An Pyŏng-uk (2001).

32 In order to commemorate various democratic struggles in the Southwestern region such as the 1979 Pusan-Masan Democratic Struggle, Pusan Democratic

Memorial Park was created along with the Pusan democratic society research institute on October 16, 1999 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the

Pusan-Masan Democratic Struggle..

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democracy development.
For the Kwangju Democratic Struggle, formerly called the Kwangju Massacre, the act related to the
honorable treatment of bereaved families of the Kwangju Democratic Struggle was enacted. As
mentioned above, there has been a partial redress of the Kwangju Democratization Movement and honor
restoration and compensation based on the act went into effect on August 6, 1990. However, an effort to
elevate the victims of the Kwangju massacre to the status of kukkayugongja (national heroes and medal
receivers) and was realized through a new act. This signifies a fundamental shift in the understanding of
constitutional principles.33 Up to this point, the status of kukkayugongsa, people whose merits are
commemorated by the state, was usually given to anti-communists, war heroes, policemen, and soldiers.
Such a list implies that merits recognized by the state at that time were the death or sacrifice of those who
stood on the repressing side. However, when people who were on the side of resistance received
recognition from the state as kukkayugongja, a qualitative change was signified in that the range of merits
not only included the sacrifice for the security of the nation but also the sacrifice in resistance for
democracy.
If these acts reviewed so far are related to the current issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan that attempt to redress
the injustices of the past authoritarian regimes, the special act on fact finding and honor restoration of the
Cheju April 3 Incident deals with a historical issue of kwagŏch’ŏngsan. Stipulating the investigation of
the persons killed during the state of unrest in Cheju Island that started on April 3, 1947 and lasted until
April 3, 1948, followed by armed conflict that lasted till Sept. 21, and its repression, publication of a
report, commemoration and honor restoration of the victims, and compensation, this act was a result of
the long and hard work of the bereaved families and concerned people of Cheju Island. Specifically, the
Pan-Korean Committee to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Cheju April 3 Incident was formed,
led by the Cheju 4-3 Research Institute on April 1, 1997. After changing its name to the Pan-Korean
Committee for the Fact Finding and Honor Restoration of the Cheju April 3 Incident, they began their
commemoration activities and the campaign for the legislation of a special law.
Lastly, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act for the improvement of human rights, and
dealing with human rights violations committed during past dictatorships was passed by the National
Assembly on April 30, 2001 and went into effect on May 24. Relatively more progressive than other
countries, this act was legislated primarily by the efforts of the Joint Committee for Civic Organization
for the Realization of National Human Rights Commission that led the campaign for the legislation of this
act from Sept. 2001 to April 2001. As Kim Tong-ch’un argues, “kwagŏch’ŏngsan cannot be completed
with democratization of oppressive state organs like the army and police and other legal and institutional

33
For a criticism of people related to the democratization movement and the
Kwangju democratization movement becoming kukkayugongja and the May 18
cemetery becoming a national cemetery, see Mun Pu-shik (2002), and on the
debate around his criticism see Cho Hee-yeon (2002) and Hwanghaemunhwa (2002,
winter).

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mechanisms that control the arbitrary use of state power, thus the main question is establishing a safe
mechanism for human rights and political democracy in the present time.” The National Human Rights
Commission of Korea is a good example of the institutionalization of prevention, which is far more
advanced than the level of seeking redress of the injustices committed by the state.

Table 3. Kwagŏch’ŏngsan laws legislated under the Kim Dae-jung government.


Type Title Date Content Background
Current Act related to 1999 Reinstate and compensate impaired Rep. Yu Son-ho and 104 other Rep.'s of
Issues reinstatement of reputations of persons who have the National Congress for New Politics
impaired reputations been killed, missing, harmed, fired proposed on July 9, 1999; Rep. Yi Shin-
and compensation of 12.28 from work, imprisoned, etc. for their bom and 25 other Rep.'s of the Grand
persons related to involvement in the democratization National Party proposed it on July 30,
the democratization movement, commemoration 1998.
movement activities (construction of a
cemetery).
Special Act related 1999 Investigate the cases of deaths Association of Bereaved Families for
to the fact-finding of believe to be related to the National Democracy petitioned for
suspicious deaths 12.28 democratization movement and legislation in 1994; Rep. Yi Sang-su and
committed by past authoritarian 155 others proposed it in 1999.
regimes.
Act to commemorate 2001 Construction of the Democratic Minju Foundation initiated a legislation
the democratization Movement Memorial Hall and campaign in 1999. People’s Solidarity for
movement 6.28 Democratic Memorial Park; collect, the Succession of the Spirit of
archive, systematize and research Democratization Movement was formed
historical documents; democracy in April 2000 to continue the activities.
education, awareness campaign,
support democracy development.
Act related to the 2002 Expand the support for the victims Based on the Act related to the
treatment of of the Kwangju Massacre to the compensation of people related to the
bereaved families of level of kukkayugongja (the national Kwangju Democratization Movement
the Kwangju 1.26 heroes or medal receivers) promulgated on August 6, 1990, the
Massacre (education, employment, and health significance of the movement was
benefits). redefined and the compensation and
reinstatement of impaired reputations
were realized. However, a campaign to
recognize the victims as kukkayogongja
was started (progress from the previous
redress efforts).
Historic Act related to the 2000 Investigate the persons killed during Pan-Korean Committee to Commemorate
al fact-finding the state of unrest in Cheju Island the 50th Anniversary of the Cheju 4-3
Issues investigation and that started on April 3, 1947 and Incident was formed led by the Cheju 4-3
reinstatement of 1.12 lasted to April 3, 1948, followed by Research Institute on April 1, 1997. They
impaired reputations armed conflict that lasted till Sept. began the commemoration activities and
of persons related to 21, and its repression; publish a the campaign for the legislation of a
the Cheju 4-3 report; commemorate and reinstate special law
Incident impaired reputation of the victims;
give compensation.
Prevent National Human 2001 Research laws related to human Joint Committee for Civic Organization
ative Rights Commission rights; recommend reforms; for the Realization of National Human
Measur of Korea Act investigate and deliver human rights Rights Commission initiated the
e 4.30 violations and discrimination; campaign from Sept. 2001 to April 2001.
human rights education, etc.

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In addition, the act related to the livelihood support and commemoration of ‘comfort women’ of the
Japanese colonial army was enacted on December 11, 2002, providing a legal basis for economic and
medical support to ‘comfort women’ survivors in the situation where Japan refuses to listen to the
international campaign demanding apology and compensation for the victims.
It is important to understand that this legislation is nothing more than the result of a broader process while
a close analysis of the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan that gave rise to these results is in order. In this
section, I will examine the complicated characteristics of the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan during the
people’s government, especially, its institutionalization. Having witnessed the first opposition party
government in 50 years, people in the social movement expected that there would be various institutional
efforts within the Kim Dae-jung government to carry out kwagŏch’ŏngsan. However, it became clear that
the Kim Dae-jung government was reluctant to pursue the task. In response, various attempts were made
from below to start the process of redress. First, in the case of acts related to the democratization
movement and suspicious deaths, the parents of the victims who were killed by the Junta regime were
most active and played a central role in the campaigns. The most dramatic example of their devotion to
the movement was their tent-in demonstration in front of the National Assembly building that lasted over
a year. Keeping in pace with the activism of bereaved families, the People’s Solidarity, made up of civic
and minjung organizations that formed in April 2000, engaged in outreach programs and petition
campaigns. Of course, at a distance, there were various students, workers, peasants, and intellectuals
struggling against the dictatorship that provided the foundation for the kwagŏch’ŏngsan movement.
Nevertheless, it was the devotion and subjective activism of the bereaved families along with the civic
and minjung organizations that were primarily responsible for the legislation and institutionalization of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan. It is they who have utilized the political space for kwagŏch’ŏngsan that appeared with
the start of the first opposition party government in 50 years and pushed the struggle forward, despite its
macroscopic limitations.
Looking back on the process of democratic reforms since 1987, reforms were difficult to achieve without
the strong push from below, especially so, when conservative democratization from above was the
preferred strategy for reform. A similar situation is found in the process of honor restoration. This is
because the complexity of the people’s government is reproduced in the process of kwagŏch’ŏngsan,
including the enactment of the act related to honor restoration of the democratic movement.
For example, with the narrow definition on identifying the people related to the democratization
movement, the act related to honor restoration of the democratization movement created tension and
conflict in the process of determining the limits of honor restoration and compensation. In other words,
the complex nature of the Kim Dae-jung government forced the compensation and honor restoration of
the democratic movement to be carried out, but in a minimalist sense. The act stipulates that “the

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democratization movement refers to the activities of the people since August 7, 1969, for recovery and
extension of freedom and civil rights that would contribute to the establishment of democratic
constitutional order in resistance to authoritarian rule, which deranged liberal democratic order of society
and infringed upon the fundamental rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution.” Such
prescription defines the movement at its minimalist sense, thus, leaving the task of realizing the definition
of the democratization movement in its broadest term to the struggle from below.34 In reality, the
periodization of the dictatorship by the act itself is a reflection of the power relations at the time. In a
situation where the ruling party is a minority in tension with the majority opposition party and where the
Liberal Democrats United claiming to have succeeded the Park Chung-hee regime has the ‘casting vote’
in the National Assembly, the legislated act stipulated the applicable period for the compensation and
honor restoration to be not from May 16, 1961, the start of the military coup d’etat, but from the time
when President Park announced his intention to amend the Constitution to allow him to run for the
presidency for a third time. It also left the ending period vague, open for wide interpretation.
If the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the civilian government was limited to fact finding and punishment of the most
extreme massacres such as the Kwangju Democratic Struggle, the legislation of the special act related to
the fact finding of suspicious deaths under the dictatorship that included a very wide range of
questionable deaths suggests that the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the people’s government was more intense than
the previous one.
The complicated nature of kwagŏch’ŏngsan is also observed in the process of the creation of the National
Human Rights Commission of Korea. The road toward the establishment of the commission was a long
and twisted one that included confrontations between existing oppressive state organs like the Ministry of
Justice and the Prosectutors’ Office, and human rights organizations concerning the status and
responsibility of the commission, and between the founding committee and the Ministry of
Administration and Home Affairs concerning the organization of the commission such as its size and
rank, etc. As a matter of fact, it reflects the dynamics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan since 1987. It was a
complicated process where resistance from the old ruling power and the structural limitations made
possible by the conservative democratization from above co-existed with the struggles from below that
were encouraged by the expanded political space due to the establishment of the people’s government,
although it faced macroscopic limits.
As discussed thus far, the working of the dynamics of kwagŏch’ŏngsan—especially, the current issues—
is observed in the legislative process of the laws mentioned above. In other words, the complicated nature

34
It is inevitable that such a minimalist legal definition on the democratization
movement will be in tension with the struggle to broaden as possible the definition.
For debates related to this issue such as extending the scope of the democratization
movement to the time of May 16 coup d’etat or including anti-state crimes or
national security crimes as part of democratization movement see the proposal for
the revision of the act related to the honor restoration and compensation of the
democratization movement by the People’s Solidarity, http://www.krdemo.org.

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of the power structure of the people’s government is reflected in the complex characteristics of
kwagŏch’ŏngsan, including the demand for the reinstatement of the impaired reputations of the
democratization movement.
Taking the opportunity given by the expansion of the ‘political space for redressing past injustices’ under
the Kim Dae-jung government, a struggle to settle the historical issues of kwagŏch’ŏngsan was initiated.
Ch’inilmunje (the question of pro-Japanese) remained as a historical issue having failed to be completely
settled during the liberation and April 19 Revolution periods. However, it has been continuously raised by
civic and social organizations concentrating on national and historical issues along with prominent
nationalists. By their efforts, a National Assembly ch’inilch’ŏngsan (redressing and punishing pro-
Japanese collaborators) was initiated and as a result, a list of 708 anti-nationalists were announced by a
group calling themselves the National Assemblymen for the Restoration of National Spirit (hereafter,
National Assemblymen) on February 28, 2002. Originally, Kwangbokhoe (Restoration Association)
drafted a list of 692 persons but the group added 16 more to the list. The National Assemblymen created
the list according to the Act on the Punishment of Anti-Nationalists enacted in 1948. The list of 708
persons includes Yi Wan-yong, the key figure in Japan’s Annexation of Korea, ŭlsaojŏk (five ministers of
Taehan who were in favor of the Protectorate Treaty with Japan), members of the Privy Council in the
Japanese colonial period, pro-Japanese organizations like Iljinhoe, and high ranking police officers,
judges, prosecutors, bureaucrats of the Japanese Government General in Korea, etc. However, the added
16 included Kim Hwal-ran, the founder of Ehwa Woman’s University, Kim Sŏng-su, the founder of the
Donga Ilbo, and Pang Ŭng-mo, the founder of the Chosŏn Ilbo creating a big controversy as the
conservatives vehemently protested their inclusion. This goes to show that even the kwagŏch’ŏngsan of
historical issues causes confrontation with present power holders who are tied to the people in question.35
The last example is the efforts to settle the issue of the civilian massacres during and after the Korean
War. No reinstatement of impaired reputation has been made in the these cases except for the Kŏch’ang
Incident under the civilian government and the Cheju 4.3 Incident during the people’s government. To
resolve the unsettled cases, a pan-national committee for fact finding with regards to the civilian
massacres during and after the Korean War was formed on Sept. 7, 2000 to carry out protests, petition
campaigns, and other activities. This signified that the kwagŏch’ŏngsan movement which focused on the
victims36 by centering around individual cases has developed into a more general movement.
At this moment, a draft of the act related to the fact finding and reinstatement of the impaired reputation
of the victims of the civilian massacres during and after the Korean War has been petitioned for
legislation by Rep. Kim Won-ung and 47 others. In an anti-Communist society where the very people
35
It is reported that National Assemblymen for the Restoration of the National Spirit
intends to propose a special act related to the fact finding of pro-Japanese
collaborations and national traitors during Japanese colonialism.
36
For more information on the suffering of the Left related victims and bereaved
families in anti-communist society centered around women see Yi Ryŏng-gyŏng
(2003). See also an article by Yi Ryŏng-gyŏng featured in this issue (editor).

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who are responsible for the civilian massacres and their descendants hold institutional and non-
institutional power, such demands are difficult to realize. Even so, various efforts to realize
kwagŏch’ŏngsan of the civilian massacres continue.
As such, campaigns for the legislation of special laws related to the reinstatement of the impaired
reputations of the Tonghak peasant revolutionary army members and related to the fact finding
investigations of the forced mobilization during the period of Japanese colonial aggression have also been
initiated. Aside from these, there are also issues concerning the legislation of laws on the compensation
and reinstatement of impaired reputations of the democratization movement and of people who suffered
from pro-North stigmatization for being involved in Cheilhan’gukminjut’ongilyŏnhap (Koreans in Japan
for Democracy and Reunification United). In January 2003, a civic network for kwagŏch’ŏngsan was
formed to pursue a more integrated kwagŏch’ŏngsan by various civic organizations related to
kwagŏch’ŏngsan.
As discussed above, kwagŏch’ŏngsan is not simply concerned with the past but is very much an effort
here and now prescribed by the dynamics of the present class and social struggles. The redress of past
injustices itself becomes an issue related to the present, which in itself, makes such redress all the more
difficult. In this sense, it can be said that kwagŏch’ŏngsan makes slow progress in the here and now
struggles from below despite certain political limitations.

6. Conclusion: The East Asian Implication of the Korean Case of Redressing the Past

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Cho Hee-yeon is Professor at the College of Social Sciences, Sungkonghoe University. He received his
Ph.D. in Sociology at Yonsei University. He teaches and researches political sociology and industrial
sociology. He has written numerous articles and books on the Korean democratization movement and is
also Director of Korean Democracy Movement Archives.

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The Slaughter of Innocents


State Terrorism and Genocide in Our Time

We have recently left perhaps the bloodiest and most terrifying century of human history. The tragedies
are too numerous to mention in full, but a short list will suffice: the Armenian genocide, the Soviet gulag,
the European Holocaust, the Nanking Massacre, the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden, the atomic
bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the repressions of Maoist China, the nightmare of the Khmer
Rouge, the slaughter of the Kurds, the “dirty wars” waged by Latin American governments upon their
own people. Killing fields dot the landscape of human history. But in the 20th century, we developed the
techniques to realize our most murderous tendencies.
The end of the Cold War in Europe in 1989 led to much speculation that great historical passions were
finally put to rest and the world would settle down to a bureaucratic state of ever increasing political
entropy – the EU-ification of the world. But the 1990s were just as brutal as the previous nine decades.
The mass slaughter in Rwanda, the targeting of civilians in the former Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing in
Sudan, the ruthless suppression of uprisings in Iraq, and countless bloody disputes throughout Africa, the
Middle East, and Asia all suggested that those initial expectations were naïve.
The 20th-century atrocities that I’ve mentioned, both before and after 1989, share two things in common.
They involved the large-scale death of civilians – non-combatants who happened to be in the wrong place
at the wrong time or were killed for not having the right ethnicity or religion or ideas. And the
perpetrators of these crimes were states, for only states possess the means to plan, carry out, or inspire
such large-scale killing. If the 18th and 19th centuries witnessed all the bloody sacrifices associated with
the rise of states – consider the French Revolution, the forging of Germany out of “blood and iron,” the
making of the Meiji state in Japan – the 20th century provided a cautionary tale of the consequences of
mature state power.
In the 21st century, some argue that the threat from states has largely retreated, and it is non-state actors –
terrorists – who most threaten individuals and the world order. The Bush administration has used this
argument to justify recent attacks. It was the Taliban’s sheltering of Al Qaeda that served as the explicit
rationale for U.S. intervention in 2001. And the administration, to rally public support for invasion,
attempted to link Saddam Hussein to its larger “war on terrorism” by suggesting links that did not exist to
Al Qaeda. Both Iran and North Korea, the two other members of the “axis of evil,” are demonized not so
much for what they can do directly to the United States (though the United States frequently worries
about the reach of North Korean missiles), but for their alleged capacity to service terrorist organizations
with material support or even weapons of mass destruction.
For all this talk of the terrorism of non-state actors, however, states have not suddenly become benign in

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the 21st century. States, both large and small, continue to wage war both externally and internally.
Indeed, in terms of sheer numbers, states continue to be responsible for the overwhelming number of
civilian deaths around the world – in the millions over the last decade compared to the thousands killed
by terrorists. Approximately 5,000 people died in terrorist attacks from 2001 to the end of 2003 – a
record number because of 9/11 – but that compares to an estimated 9,000 civilian deaths in the Iraq
occupation alone. This is not to excuse or justify or minimize terrorism. From the point of view of the
victim, an atrocity is an atrocity, regardless of the perpetrator or the scale of the act.
As the largest and most powerful state in the world, the United States plays a particularly troubling role,
as much for its acts of war as for its stubborn adherence to unilateralism. This unilateralism predates the
Bush administration. Linked to a tradition of American exceptionalism, this “go it alone” ethos is hard-
wired into the very practice of U.S. foreign policy.
This presentation will look at the role of the state in perpetuating violence against citizens, both in the
form of “state terrorism” and “genocide.” I’ll also briefly look at what has been done to curb the excesses
of the state, largely through popular movements and legal action at both the national and international
level. And I’ll look at how the United States, despite many excellent organizations and committed
politicians, has a disproportionately negative impact on creating international standards to prevent human
rights abuses.
But the central questions I’ll be posing today will be the following. Is it naïve to expect that states can be
transformed, or are they, like colonial systems, constitutionally disposed to large-scale, unjust actions? Is
it equally naïve to expect that we have any sane or effective alternatives to the modern state? And what
can we expect from the most powerful state in the world, regardless of who is in the White House?

A Short History of the State and Terrorism

Life before the State was not a great deal of fun, if we are to believe the English philosopher Thomas
Hobbes. It was a “war of all against all,” and the average person’s experience was “solitary, poor, nasty,
brutish, and short.” The State might be an awesome and fearful force – a “Leviathan” in Hobbes’s
biblically inspired words – but it was generally preferable to the alternative of chaos.
To prevent challenges to its authority that might return society to this “war of all against all,” the modern
state has sought a monopoly on violence. It reserved for itself the right of both foreign military activities
and the maintenance of internal order. And the state, with occasional consultation with religious
authorities and even less frequent resort to treaties, determined whether any particular use of force was
just or not. The history of the formation of states can be viewed romantically (Garibaldi and the creation
of modern Italy) or with a more jaundiced eye (the slaughter of indigenous peoples, the ruthless
suppression of minorities). But today, however you would like to believe a given state was constructed,
the 180-odd existing states in the world are legal facts backed up by force of arms. The poorest states,

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like North Korea, have armies. Neutral states like Switzerland have armies. And even Japan, which was
governed by the world’s only “peace constitution,” is lobbying hard to have a “normal” military. (Costa
Rica, the only country without a standing army, is the exception that proves the rule).
The history of the modern state is also a history of bureaucratic control. This control has been maintained
through institutions such as the military, schools, and the civil service. To the extent that state and nation
do not coincide – and this is the case throughout the world with only a few exceptions – the state has also
used its institutions to create national sentiment as a legitimizing force – to turn “peasants into
Frenchmen” in Eugen Weber’s characterization of the breaking down of minority (Breton, Provencal)
affections to build support for central French power in Paris.
The state, in other words, is the great homogenizer. Violence has been used to maintain borders (or
expand them), but it has also been used to enforce loyalty domestically. No state tolerates rebellions,
revolts, and revolutions. Governments may come and go, depending on the democratic nature of the
country, but states with very rare exceptions – East Germany, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union – do not
disappear gently into history. Those who are not loyal to the state – in the form of individual traitors or
collective rebellions – are subject to criminal penalties in the first case (including death) and war in the
second case (the crushing of uprisings such as the one in Kwangju or the suppression of the National
League for Democracy in Burma).
Much has been written of the economic origins and justifications of the state. But when it comes to state
violence and genocide, economic rationales have rarely played a critical role. Certainly the mass
slaughters associated with colonialism – the millions who died, for instance, in Congo at the hands of the
Belgians in the 19th and early 20th centuries – were motivated by greed. But desire for wealth cannot
explain the rampages of the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or the Nazis in Europe.
These campaigns required some conception or ideology of enforced homogeneity based on race, political
beliefs, or a combination of the two. Genocide can be understood as an extreme corruption of the
homogeneity that all states require and which goes by various names – patriotism, nationalism, political
loyalty.
It has been common to contrast states and terrorists. States are a legitimate part of the world order, and
their violence is legal and expected and governed (to a certain extent) by international law. Terrorists
form an illegitimate force whose violence is unexpected and illegal. This facile contrast, repeated by
most state leaders, does not hold up to close scrutiny.
Let’s look first at several definitions of terrorism. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “the
use of terror, violence, and intimidation to achieve an end.” The FBI puts an emphasis on the illegal
nature of terrorist acts and throws in attacks against property: "the unlawful use of force against persons
or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in the
furtherance of political or social objectives." The United Nations has so far been unable to achieve
consensus on a definition, but there has been a good deal of support for defining terrorist acts simply as

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the “peacetime equivalents of war crimes.”


Even with the FBI definition, it should be clear that terrorism can be a technique used by both state and
non-state actors. The Nazi state was a terrorist state, as was the Soviet state under Stalin and the Japanese
state of the 1930s – they all used violence against civilians to further political goals. But democracies,
too, have used terror and violence against citizens to achieve ends. During the 20th century, for instance,
large-scale terror attacks against civilians became a legitimate strategy of war. The Allied fire bombings
of Dresden and Tokyo were specifically designed to kill civilians in large numbers and reduce popular
support for the respective governments. U.S. use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during
World War II and the bombing of dams in North Korea in the Korean War were a logical continuation of
this trend. The continued development of weapons of mass destruction during the Cold War must be
considered in this context of state-sponsored terrorism; nuclear deterrence, a cornerstone of the current
world order, is a technique by which states balance each other’s institutionalized terrorism. During
peace-time, too, democratic states practiced terrorism through both overt and covert operations (for
example, U.S. material and logistical support for death squads in Latin America or Israel’s assassinations
of its enemies).
But terrorism, conventionally, has been used to describe the activities of non-state movements. The
precursors to modern terrorists espoused violence to combat tyranny. In the modern era, however,
terrorist movements initially arose to either create states (Israel, Macedonia), recreate states (Korea,
Poland), or transform states (Russia, Germany). To achieve these goals, movements that are outnumbered
seek advantage by breaking the “rules of combat.” In many cases, terrorism has only been a method of
equalizing power relations so that outsiders can win a seat at the table. Many organizations that have
been labeled “terrorist” – the precursor to Israel’s Likud, Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, the African
National Congress – have since become political actors in the mainstream.
The term “terrorism” is thus ambiguous. Both state and non-state actors use violence against civilians to
achieve political goals. The term can be stretched to encompass virtually any group, from the “freedom
fighters” in Afghanistan to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, from the Red Army Brigade in Japan to the
Real IRA in Ireland, and even (according to the Chinese government), the Falun Gong. And former
terrorists like Nelson Mandela have become world-renowned statesmen.
With the end of the Cold War, however, the categories have shifted once again. A new construct for
understanding international relations has emerged: market democracies versus everyone else (rogue
states, stubbornly communist countries, terrorist organizations). Anti-terrorism has thus become the anti-
communism of our generation. State-sponsored violence, which was once directed against “communists”
in Guatemala or Indonesia or South Korea, is now directed against those engaged in “jihad.” What was
once a strictly political distinction, for communists were understood largely in terms of their goal of
seizing state power, now comes with a set of cultural assumptions as well. Al Qaeda does not believe in
“our” God. It rejects “our” social liberalism. And it believes not so much in seizing state power as

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eliminating modern states altogether in favor of recreating an ancient caliphate with mullahs in charge.
The political needs of the “war on terrorism” do not quite square with the cultural overtones of the current
crusade against radical Islam. To imagine that Al Qaeda has anything in common with the IRA or the
Basque ETA or with North Korea and Cuba or with non-communist “rogue” states such as Sudan and
Syria stretches “terrorism” beyond even its previous malleability. Just as anti-communism saw
conspiracies between disparate movements – inveterate enemies such as China and Vietnam or feuding
powers like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia or distant acquaintances like Chilean socialists and Cuban
communists – anti-terrorism has created an equally disconnected “axis of evil.”
Before I turn to the “war on terrorism” and current U.S. policy, though, let me discuss the non-violent
path to reining in the excesses of the state – popular movements for democracy and human rights.

Democracy and Human Rights

The most profound transformation to temper the excesses of the state has been democracy. Majority rule,
with minority protections and transparent political institutions, offers the promise of reaping the benefits
of the state (stability, economic growth) while avoiding the drawbacks (oppression). Democratic
movements serve a vital watchdog function on the exercise of state power, whether overseas or domestic.
Democratic institutions, through checks and balances, prevent any one individual or group from using
state power unjustly. At least, this is the theory.
Without going into the real world failings of democracy, suffice it to say that democracy does not
automatically spell the end of oppression. There is the problem of the tyranny of the majority – German
support for the Nazi party, Japanese-American internment camps in the United States – which sanctions
oppression through popular support. Second, there is the problem of the “national security exception,”
which exempts questions of national security from democratic scrutiny. The budget and activities of U.S.
intelligence agencies, for instance, are not open to public control. Pentagon strategy is not subject to
Congressional control much less citizen oversight. The state argues that the security of the country
requires a measure of secrecy, and with this secrecy comes a wealth of opportunities for abuse.
Democracy is a necessary condition for putting controls on state violence. But it is not sufficient.
Popular movements can organize domestically to improve democratic controls over the army and
intelligence agencies. But let’s look at another strategy – applying pressure from the outside. This is
where the human rights movement enters the picture.
The human rights movement grew out of the experience of World War II and the Holocaust. Developing
countries, anticipating the break-up of colonialism, demanded the creation of standards for economic and
social justice. An incipient NGO movement, numbering approximately 40 organizations, pushed for
universal human rights for individuals over and above the self-determination of peoples. As described by
Mary Ann Glendon in A World Made New, Eleanor Roosevelt guided the Human Rights Commission

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toward reconciling these two approaches by asserting a set of basic human values that transcended
diverse cultural contexts. The UN Declaration of Human Rights offered a potential check on states that
engaged in cross-border violence or that turned against their own citizens.
At the same time, the Commission was careful not to upset the principle building blocks of the nation-
state system, namely the notions of sovereignty and territorial integrity established in the 17th century in
the Treaty of Westphalia. As such, no state could use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to
justify intervention in another state’s affairs. Sovereignty has always been the last refuge of the state. If
internal policies cannot be justified on a moral or legal basis, the state in the end asserts that the policies
are not open to external challenge for all states have the right to do what they please within their own
borders.
Parallel to the work of the Human Rights Commission, however, were Raphael Lemke’s efforts to secure
a genocide convention. Here the goal was to establish a kind of exception to the standard of sovereignty if
and only if a state attempted mass murder against an ethnic group within its borders. This was a radical
move. Even at the Nuremburg trials, Nazi defendants were charged with crimes against humanity only in
the cases of German invasion of other countries; what German citizens did in Germany to other German
citizens did not count. The convention, which passed in 1948, deliberately excluded political groups from
its definition of the potentially victimized.
The genocide convention has had more hortatory than actual effect. As Samantha Power makes clear in
her 2002 book A Problem from Hell, all states have acknowledged the importance of the genocide
convention but very rarely have invoked it. States are large, unwieldy creations. They do not act with
moral conviction (though an occasional leader will do so, for better or worse). Only the most slender
efforts were made to prevent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Even less was done to stop the killings in
Rwanda. Very little is being done today, as we speak, to prevent the Sudanese government and its proxy
Arab militias from killing non-Arab Africans in Darfur. Human rights organizations can bring attention
to genocide, but they cannot by themselves stop the killing. Nor can the international community, such
that it is, stop genocide. Only states have the means to prevent (or authorize the UN to prevent) genocide.
Although they haven’t been able to stop genocide, the human rights movement has had measurable
impact on the activities of states. Human rights movements played critical roles in democratizing Eastern
Europe, transforming governments throughout Latin America, and making a profound difference for
millions of people throughout Asia. As critically, human rights movements have affected how putatively
democratic governments behave, for such movements have challenged pragmatic alliances that the United
States or European countries have maintained with dictatorial regimes.
Although democratic institutions are more widespread and human rights organizations have greater power
today than every before, states continue to oppress. A large gap remains between the state as guarantor of
rights and the state as the violator of rights. When the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the
Genocide Convention were written in the 1940s, there were great hopes that a newly emerging set of

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international institutions would make states behave. This did not happen. In the 1990s, hopes were
renewed that the UN would step into the void of power created by the end of the Cold War. Let me turn
now to one of the chief reasons why an international system has been slow to replace the old, creaking
nation-state system.

American Exceptionalism

Although U.S. civil society and elements of the U.S. government have taken strong stands on human
rights issues, there are four major problems in the overall U.S. approach, all of which have made it very
difficult to construct an international set of standards that can serve as a backbone for a peaceful, rights-
respecting global system.

Reluctance to combat genocide


Refusal to compromise on “sovereignty”
Inconsistent application of human rights standards globally
Extralegality in counterterrorism operations
.
Although U.S. citizens were instrumental in pushing for the genocide treaty, the United States did not
ratify the treaty until 1988. Even while they quibbled over the terms of the treaty, U.S. politicians
solemnly promised that the European Holocaust would “never again” happen. Actions did not live up to
these words. The United States condemned the Khmer Rouge during its reign of terror, but then backed
the deposed movement after the Vietnam invasion of 1979 in order to achieve a “balance of power” in the
region. In a similar effort to balance the power of Iran, the United States sided with Iraq during the Iran-
Iraq war of the 1980s. The U.S. agricultural lobby also blocked consideration of economic sanctions
against Iraq when news of the slaughter of Kurds began to leak out (Iraq was the 9th largest importer of
U.S. food). The Clinton administration decried the acts of the Serbian government and Bosnian Serbs in
Bosnia, but tended to blame all sides. While Croatia was certainly guilty of atrocities (Bosnia committed
considerably fewer), this tendency to assess blame evenly prevented the U.S. government from backing
more resolute action – more UN peacekeepers, NATO bombings of Serb military targets – to prevent, for
instance, the slaughter of 7,000 Bosnians at the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica.
And when very credible reports began to emerge from Rwanda of Tutsi atrocities against the Hutu
minority, the Clinton administration refused to invoke genocide for fear of being required, by
international law, to support intervention into the crisis. Approximately 800,000 Hutus were killed,
approximately 80 percent of the Hutu population in Rwanda. In the middle of the genocide, the U.S.
government actually prevented the UN from deploying 5500 troops when the Security Council finally
approved a measure to expand its forces. Only 800 men were deployed. Why didn’t the United States

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act? In part, it was reluctant to oppose France, which was aligned with the Tutsis and blocked
intervention at the UN level. The United States also did not want to be caught in a long conflict that
could cost American lives, especially so soon after the Mogadishu disaster and the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Somalia. Nor was there a Tutsi community in the United States putting pressure on the U.S.
president or the U.S. Congress. This was a clear case of the necessity of a “humanitarian intervention.” It
has been estimated that a force of 5,000 well-armed soldiers deployed immediately could have prevented
the bulk of the atrocities. But the United States, like other countries, did not feel compelled, either
politically or morally, to intervene.
While it is easy to make judgments about genocide after the fact, the choices at the time are not always so
clear. Take the example of Kosovo. In March 1999, the Clinton administration finally used genocide as a
rationale for instructing NATO for the first time in its 50-year history to wage an actual war. NATO
conducted bombing raids over Serbia during which not a single NATO soldier died. Indeed, planes
bombed from much higher altitudes than would otherwise be effective simply to avoid anti-aircraft fire.
This led to several costly mistakes, such as killing a busload of Albanian refugees – overall,
approximately 500 civilians died during the bombing, according to Human Rights Watch. Did the
bombing work? 2500 Kosovars were killed in the year before bombing. Within 11 weeks of the
bombing, Serb forces killed roughly 10,000 (the exact figures are still under dispute). But how many
might have died if the bombing hadn’t taken place? Would fewer innocent civilians have died if
American fighter pilots had flown at lower but riskier altitudes? These are not easy questions to answer.
The second problem of U.S. policy is the government’s refusal to tolerate any formal infringement of its
sovereignty. This has led the U.S. government to reject numerous international treaties (UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child, UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the treaty on
landmines, the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the International Criminal Court) and to sign others
only with “reservations, understandings, and declarations” that render U.S. participation largely nominal.
Large powers have shown no qualms about infringing the sovereignty of other countries – invading them,
establishing “no-fly” zones, and insisting that they conform to international rules of conduct. But only
large countries, the United States most prominently, are powerful enough to remain within the
Westphalian system, retaining the right of exclusive control over what happens within their borders.
The refusal of the United States to “play well with others” means that the international norms governing
genocide, human rights, fair working conditions and so on remain weak. The United States argues that
U.S. laws are more robust than any international laws, but this insistence in fact is self-fulfilling. U.S.
unilateralism flows from an “exceptionalist” tradition that argues that the United States is an exception to
the rules that govern all other nations. The United States has a special role in history (which is God-
given, according to fundamentalists), has not suffered from foreign wars on its soil, does not have the
baggage of feudalism, and has the moral authority to spread American-style democracy (and culture and
economics) worldwide. If other countries don’t understand this role, then the United States must go it

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alone.
The third problem is inconsistency in application of human rights standards. No U.S. government – even
the Carter administration – has been immune from economic and political considerations when
formulating human rights policy. U.S. economic interests in Uganda, for instance, contributed to the
Carter administration’s reluctance to impose sanctions against the brutal Idi Amin. The Reagan
administration adhered to Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian”
governments when it ignored the human rights abuses of the former (Chile) and focused on the abuses of
the latter (Soviet Union). Subsequent U.S. governments have followed a similar pattern of selective
application. For our allies in the war on terrorism – Pakistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan – human rights has
taken a backseat to military aid and trade. When the United States needed China’s support last year for
the war on Iraq, the administration conveniently neglected to introduce a resolution on the human rights
situation in the country at the UN Human Rights Commission (this year, to deny the Democrats an easy
campaign issue, the administration dusted off its resolution because of Chinese “backsliding”). Julie
Mertus, in her valuable book Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy, argues
persuasively that the United States has systematically refused to apply to itself the human rights standards
to which it insists other countries adhere. “In no presidency to date can we say that human rights norms
have been pervasively or consistently embedded in thought and action,” she writes.
In its recent “war on terrorism,” the Bush administration has highlighted a fourth problem in U.S. policy –
extralegality. While other administrations have skirted the law in the past, the current administration has
used counterterrorism to justify a sweeping rejection of international standards on such matters as
preventive war, political assassination, secret military tribunals, torture, and illegal detentions. In order to
limit my remarks, let me focus on political assassination.
After the Watergate crisis, a Congressional hearing into covert activities uncovered a wealth of
information on U.S. complicity in political assassinations world wide. Here was concrete proof that the
United States was engaged in the oldest form of terrorism – plotting to kill leaders such as Patrice
Lumumba, Fidel Castro, and Salvador Allende and killing as many as 20,000 opponents of the South
Vietnamese government in the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War. As outraged legislators
prepared a bill to prevent the United States from engaging in such activities, President Ford stole their
thunder by issuing an executive order to the same effect. But there was a big difference between the
legislation and the executive order. The president could make exceptions to the executive order. In 1989,
the Bush Sr. administration asked for legal clarification of this order. As journalist Mark Danner
describes the clarification in Killing Pablo, “a decision by the president to employ clandestine, low
visibility or overt military force would not constitute assassination if the U.S. military forces were
employed against the combatant forces of another nation, a guerrilla force, or a terrorist or other
organization whose actions pose a threat to the security of the United States.” This interpretation
permitted the United States to go after drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi,

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and Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.


The Bush Jr. administration has relied heavily on this particular interpretation to expedite its “war on
terrorism.” In November 2002, CIA agents used an unmanned Predator drone to kill a suspected high-
ranking Al Qaeda lieutenant along with five others. The attack took place outside a war zone. The five
other victims not connected to Al Qaeda were considered “collateral damage.” No judicial proceeding
determined the guilt or innocence of the targeted victim. The United States simply acted above the law.
The United States is not alone in its inconsistent application of human rights standards, the use of
extrajudicial killings, the refusal to compromise sovereignty, and the refusal to intervene to stop genocide.
But as the largest and most powerful country in the world, the United States is in a special position to
establish precedents, lead by moral example, and help create international institutions that can enforce
collective decisions.

Conclusion: Beyond the State?

The state is at the same time the greatest protector of human rights and the greatest oppressor. Jews, East
Timorese, Bosnians have all struggled to build states as a check against genocide and large-scale human
rights violations. But as we can see from the example of Israel, even the experience of genocide does not
prevent a people from using the state apparatus as a tool of oppression.
In the world that we live in – as opposed to the world that we want to live in – states are a given. But go
back only a hundred years and you will find an era in which colonial empires were a given. Colonial
empires co-existed with the nation-state system. As colonial empires broke apart, new states emerged,
which strengthened the inter-state system and, ultimately, made the United Nations possible.
We are nearing the end of this process. Yes, there remain some peoples who are struggling to create states
– Kurds, Basques, Kosovars, Tibetans, Xinjiang Muslims, Chechens. But new regional and international
institutions may soon be able to offer stateless peoples the kinds of protections and guarantees that once
only a state could provide. The European Union offers Basques and Bretons and Flemish and Lombards
and Corsicans and Roma a level of representation other than national. International covenants on human
rights and genocide, if backed by a standing army of peacekeepers, will be more than mere pieces of
paper. Multilateral humanitarian interventions, rather than unilateral decisions or hastily assembled
“coalitions of the willing,” will enforce the collective decisions of an international community.
Between today’s world and the world of tomorrow stands what may well be the last empire in history, the
United States. As in Hobbes, the United States claims that it must act as a Leviathan in order to prevent
the world from slipping into chaos, a war of all against all. The U.S. Leviathan, with its refusal to abide
by international standards, is holding the world back from building a new global system in the same way
that the British empire prevented the emergence of nation-states in the developing world. In the world
that Hobbes described, people supported the Leviathan to escape the chaotic state of nature. But today,

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the world over, people are increasingly uncomfortable with U.S. misuse of power. And poll after poll
reveal that American citizens, too, do not want to bear the costs and responsibilities of empire.
In South Korea, you have thrown off dictatorship, built democratic institutions, and created one of the
strongest civil societies in the world. Recently you held one of the most exciting elections of the last
decade. Now it is our turn to do the same in the United States: so that we can together build an
international system that makes genocide and terrorism of all varieties a thing of the past .

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