In a political about-face, a South Korean commission investigating a century of human rights abuses has ruled that the US military’s large-scale killing of refugees during the Korean War arose out of military necessity. \nShutting down the inquiry into South Korea’s hidden history, the commission will also leave unexplored scores of suspected mass graves believed to hold remains of tens of thousands of South Korean political detainees summarily executed by their own government early in the 1950 to 1953 war. \nThe four-year-old Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea probed more deeply than any previous inquiry into the country’s bloody past, but a shift to conservative national leadership changed the panel’s political makeup this year and dampened its investigative zeal. \nThe families of 1950s victims wanted the work continued, however, the commission’s new president said its work must end. \nThe commission was established in December 2005 under the late liberal South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun to “reconcile the past for the sake of national unity.” \nIt had a broad mandate to expose human rights abuses from Korea’s pre-1945 Japanese colonial period through South Korea’s military dictatorships into the 1980s. \nThe most shocking disclosures emerged from the war that began when North Korea invaded the south on June 25, 1950, to try to reunify the peninsula, divided into US and Soviet-occupied zones in 1945. \nThe commission was the first government authority to publicly confirm what long had only been whispered: The US-allied South Korean military and police carried out a vast secretive slaughter of political detainees in mid-1950 to keep southern sympathizers from supporting the northerners. Up to 200,000 were killed, historians believe. \nHundreds of petitions to the commission told another story as well, of more than 200 incidents in which the US military, warned about potential North Korean infiltrators in refugee groups, was said to have indiscriminately killed large numbers of innocent South Korean civilians in 1950 and 1951. \nDeclassified US documents uncovered over the past decade do, indeed, show commanders issuing blanket orders to shoot civilians during that period. In 2007 to last year, the commission verified several such US attacks, including the napalm-bombing of a cave jammed with refugees in eastern South Korea, which survivors said killed 360 people. \nIn a rush of final decisions on June 29 and June 30, the commission found no serious US wrongdoing in the remaining cases of civilian killings, attributing them to military necessity.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: After there were no new locally transmitted cases for three consecutive days, officials have started to relax limitations on freedom of movement China on Friday reported a record rise in imported COVID-19 cases as expatriates returned home from the US and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak. All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from abroad, the Chinese National Health Commission said yesterday, bringing the total number of such cases to 269. Beijing and Shanghai were the main entry points for the returnees, many of whom are students who were studying abroad, official reports said. They have come back after many campuses in the US and Europe shut
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,