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Jeon Allegedly Authorized Use of Deadly Force Against Demonstrators

Jeon Allegedly Authorized Use of Deadly Force Against Demonstrators

Posted July. 25, 2007 03:02,   


It transpired yesterday that Jeon Doo-hwan, then de facto commander-in-chief, invoked the self-defense authority of the military and took advantage of the rumor of North Korea’s invasion to crack down on demonstrators in Gwangju in 1980.

The Truth Committee of the Army declassified 140,000 pages of previously classified documents, and issued a report on the 12/12 incident and other related events yesterday.

In the report, the committee recommended that the historic meaning of the 5/18 incident be incorporated into the preamble of the Constitution, and that the decorations of honor granted to those involved in the 12/12 incident be revoked.

Order to Engage-

A handwritten memo was discovered written on the minutes of the meeting “Directions and Guidelines for the Chungjeong Operation” which read, “Your Highness Mr. Jeon: Use of deadly force allowed upon any threat to soldiers on duty.” On hand at the meeting were Jeon Doo-hwan, then Defense Minister Ju Yeong-bok, Chief of Staff Lee Hui-seong, Second Army Commander Jin Jong-chae, General Noh Tae-woo, and General Jeong Ho-yong.

Who Ordered the Firing?-

The committee, however, failed to figure out who authorized firing upon the militia members who had occupied the South Jeolla provincial government building and demonstrated on May 21.

The committee member confirmed, “The circumstantial evidence pointed out the perpetrators, but we had no hard evidence to prove it. We were debating over whether to articulate the suspected culprits in the report. Finally, we opted for non-disclosure.”

Regarding the time of the first firing, the committee alleged a cover-up. According to the allegation, the special forces in Gwangju at that time had already fired upon and killed demonstrators on May 19 and 20. But the field officers did not report some incidents and lied about the casualties.

Then Third Brigade Commander Choi Se-chang ordered distribution and loading of live ammo to the soldiers, contended the committee. It also cited a staff sergeant as saying, “We were ordered to fire upon the demonstrators who were blocking our reinforcement units.”

Confirmed Brutal Crackdown-

The committee did not confirm another allegation either. It was rumored that the special forces used bayonets to kill the demonstrators.

The committee reportedly spent an enormous amount of time to verify the “Small Bus Strafing” case. People asserted that the ground troops fired upon a small civilian bus on May 23 in Gwangju. It reportedly secured, however, an eyewitness who testified before the committee that a drunken soldier cut off the ear of a demonstrator.

Covert Surveillance Operation-

The newly declassified documents confirmed the existence of Cheongmyeong Operation. According to the committee, the military top brass classified 923 civilian leaders in three categories prior to the pronouncement of martial law in early 1989 to monitor or arrest them.

The committee confessed that the operation had never been executed. The “classification data,” however, served as the basis for the covert domestic surveillance operation. The committee unearthed another set of documents as well. The intelligence agency under Jeon Doo-hwan secretly tailed 1,311 civilians at that time.

The committee noticed that documents did not contain any information on two former presidents, Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, along with Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Kang-cheol, Mun Dong-hwan, and Park Hyeon-chae. The four individuals were present at the press conference where private Yoon Seok-yang publicly made an allegation.