No Gun-Ri

I’ve just watched an extremely disturbing documentary on UK History about an event I’d heard very little about before, the massacre at No Gun-Ri during the Korean War. The US 7th Cavalry – Custer’s old regiment – opened fire repeatedly over a number of days on columns of Korean civilian refugees. Mothers with children, old women, all were gunned down repeatedly. Air force support was called in – the refugees were herded onto the railway line and left there. A few minutes later the US airforce came in and strafed them. Many of the soldiers have confessed to the massacre and to receiving direct orders to open fire on civilians.

Orders have been found in the US National Archive from generals instructing US forces to treat any civilian refugees trying to approach or cross their lines as enemy targets. Documents in the same archives confirm Army requests for Airforce strafing of refugee groups. This has been kept quit until a group of Associated Press reporters investigated it in 1999. Following their Pulitzer Prize winning report the Pentagon was finally forced to hold an official investigation. The Pentagon reported that there had been a ‘tragic accident’, civilians had been killed, but it was all an accident and not deliberate. Heat of the moment of battle excuses have been proffered and the US government still denies that there were any official directives to target civilians during the Korean war, despite the fact documents in their own US National Archive flatly contradict this position – the Pentagon report did not mention these for some odd reason.

Half a century later and we’ve been exposed to some footage brought out of Iraq on British TV recently. Once again the sight of massacred civilians fills our screens. Once more the US army claims anyone shot was an aggressor. Reports from independent journalists however suggest that the US army pretty much opened fire on anything that moved on the road into Baghdad. They weren’t sure if these cars carried soldiers or civilians. They didn’t check, they just opened fire. One scene caught on film showed US troops blazing away in panic at a civilian bus. Riddled with bullets it bursts into flames and slows. Blood-soaked men jump out of the flames and are instantly shot. One man trying to escape the flames is targeted by dozens of marines and cut to pieces. It looks looked something from a Die Hard movie, but this was real.

To this day the US government still refuses to join the other civilised countries in signing up to the International Court of Human Justice – they think unfriendly nations might use this to try and convict US citizens and we can’t have that. To this day no US army officer has been charged with war crimes over No Gun-Ri and no compensation or apology has even been offered. Over one million civilians died in the Korean War. The South Korean government has counted 63 separate incidents of US forces killing civilians during the conflict. The US refuses to acknowledge these let alone investigate them. Any other nation would be dragged to the Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity. The US shrugs it shoulders and ignores its blood-soaked crimes.