Category Archives: Massacre

2015 – the year of human beings, or business as usual?

Looking forward  to what this new year will bring one may wonder if there indeed will occur some unexpected changes for the better in world affairs. For five hundred years we, the Europeans and our off-shoots, have held large parts of the world in a violent grip, mainly for the purpose of enriching and empowering ourselves.

We started by continuously slaughter each other in Europe, thus making war our favorite hobby. With development of modern weapons we got an upper hand globally, and made war a science. From that point on we started to afflict the world with unspeakable horror in order to enlarge and secure our imperialistic conquests.

As late as in my first years in school, some 60 years ago, imperialism was described as a benevolent enterprise, almost a sacrifice made by the white man to help and lift the bewildered herds. The fact that we blessed the poor savages with our civilization by enslaving and slaughtering them was not really recognized. Nor did we hear that our missionary work, much lauded by our teachers, was just a matter of exchanging one superstition for another.

We have in many ways continued to use blinkers to shade off the unpleasant consequences of our efforts to dominate the world. The prime concern has always been to keep the poor majority of people down (if necessary with mass killings). We used small elites in the conquered regions to ensure that wealth and recourses from around the world ultimately landed in the hands of our rich elite.

Our rampage naturally fostered resistance and uprisings. Up came “communism”, a repressive system perfect as a pretext for continued military actions against egalitarian movements wherever they appeared. We left millions of corpses on battlefields all over the world, and hundreds of millions more as a consequence of an economic system that deprived people of elementary living conditions. And we ended up praising ourselves as some kind of saints, affording the world “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

Blatantly racist colonialism’s prime time ended in the 1960s, leaving room for more indirect, but no less effective, means of domination. In just recent years these methods too have met successful resistance here and there, perhaps most significantly in South America. With the convenient pretext “Soviet Communism” gone there were further hopes for our violent tendencies to calm down, but such niceties doesn’t fit our epigenetic habits.

“Communism” had been “the single question”, the all encompassing phenomenon we had to aim all our military capacity against. But that turned out to have been a lie for 40 years. As soon as the Berlin wall fell, we (US supported by EU) started to create capitalist Russia as the new suitable target, first by seceding large parts from the former Soviet territory, then by expanding NATO into Russia’s borders and installing offensive missile bases in Eastern Europe.

Finally we reached Ukraine, and the probably much anticipated Russian reaction took place. Our warmongers, for all their different reasons, got the fodder they had longed for.

And that’s where we are today. Let’s see if reason, sensibility and consideration can play a part this coming year 2015.

The first Tiananmen happened in South Korea, and is completely out of history

These days we may solemnize the memory of the dead in a massacre on students and other young people who had gathered in thousands to demonstrate for democracy and freedom in a harsh dictatorship. To crush this demonstration the authorities called in military troops, which carried out their orders with brute violence, killing hundreds of young people who just fought for their human rights.

The official death toll is said to be around 200, while other observers have it to be upwards of 2,000. One prominent leader behind the uproar was caught and sentenced to death. Other participants were hunted for years and had to live as outlaws hidden from attention. A remarkable novel was written describing the life in a police state for hunted students.

I’m not referring to June 4, 1989 and Tiananmen Square, but to May 18, 1980 and Gwangju in South Korea, both horrible atrocities with remarkable similarities, and with a single even more remarkable divergence. What differs between them is of course that the Chinese slaughter is well known and one we can read about everywhere these days. The South Korean counterpart is probably completely forgotten if it even was noticed at all in the West when it occurred.

In 1980 the South Korean butcher in charge was Chun Doo-hwan who had seized power through a military coup the year before. The politician who received a death sentence was Kim Dae-jung, though saved due to international pressure and allowed to leave for the US in 1982. When South Korea eventually became a democratic state Chun in turn was sentenced to death for his liquidations of adversaries. This was in 1996 and now Kim Dae-jung was the one who saved his old enemy from death. Chun is still alive, but Kim regrettably dead.

The author I mentioned is Hwang Sok-yong, and his novel The Old Garden. Hwang was imprisoned the first time in 1964 for political reasons, and then again in 1989 for visiting a writer’s conference in North Korea. He served five years of his seven years sentence when he was pardoned by the newly elected president Kim Dae-jung.

Our main daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, provides subscriber access to its archive ten years back. The keyword “Tiananmen Square” (“Himmelska fridens torg” in Swedish) results in 350 hits in that archive, all of them certainly about the 1989 massacre. “Gwangju” (“Kwangju” in Sw.) provides only one hit, and that’s an illuminating hit in itself. The city is mentioned in passing in a recent article about the current president Park Geun-hye, daughter of another dictator and butcher, Park Chung-hee. Obviously the journalist was ignorant of the importance of the conservative president holding a speech in Gwangju, something of highest significance for South Koreans.

Instrumental to silencing of the massacre in western media may have been the US involvement, not just in its strong support for the dictator Chun, but also allegedly in directly authorizing deployment of Korean troops in the operations.

Though Gwangju is the incident totally forgotten or even non-existent in our world, it’s not uncommon to describe Tiananmen as the concealed occurrence. Yesterday DN had an article written by an expert on China, under the headline “Here’s why the world chose to forget the victims in Beijing”. As from mind reading New York Times today has an op-ed entitled “Tiananmen, Forgotten”. If DN’s reminding us about the Chinese massacre almost once a week during the last decade is the same as “forget”, there’s obviously call for a redefinition of the word.

For all reasons it’s only natural that our propagandistic media has concealed the Gwangju massacre. In South Korea, on the other hand, the incident played a pivotal role for a development which eventually transformed the country into a democratic state. Thus May 18 now has been declared an official memorial day and annual ceremonies are held on this day at the Mangwol-dong cemetery in Gwangju, where victim’s bodies were buried. In 2011 UNESCO included the uprising in Gwangju in the World Memory Register (something for DN and others to remember).

It’s a good thing that we keep the atrocities on Tiananmen Square in memory, and act in every way we can to prevent similar horrors to happen in the future. But it’s a shame that we for political reasons conceal factually identical, but with proportionate measurements vastly more horrendous mass killings in the smaller country South Korea.

The stupefying partisanship that our media excels in eliminates every trace of credibility for them as judges of world events. Still they act as if they were the only reliable judges on all issues in the world. Breathtaking!