Declaration on current situation involving the crushing to
death of two schoolgirls.
On June 13, 2002, two Korean schoolgirls, Shin Hyo-soon and Shim Mi-sun, were crushed to death in Yangju County, Kyonggi Province, Korea, by an armored vehicle belonging to the 2nd Division of the U.S. Forces in Korea. Deeply mourning for their deaths, Korean people have greately resented the current Korea-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) under which a Korean civilian court could not try the two U.S. soldiers who killed the two Korean teenage girls.
The Korean non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which have endeavored to sublimate such Korean sentiment to a nation-wide movement, have formed the “Nationwide Committee to deal with the killings of Shin Hyo-soon and Shim Mi-sun”, launching campaigns for the collection of one million signatures, an overall revision of the SOFA, as well as for retrial of the murderous U.S. soldiers by a Korean court.
Defying such a public sentiment of Korean people, however, the U.S. court-martial in Korea, in the trials of November 18 to 22, has acquitted the indicted two servicemen of negligent homicide charges. These verdicts have exploded anti-Americanism lying latent among Korean people.
The Nationwide Committee, which has been doing campaigns upholding such sentiment of Korean people, convened on November 27 a “Conference on emergency situation of representatives of civic groups and political parties” attended by the leaders of major NGOs of Korea, and issued the following declaration on the current situation in Korea.
Declaration on the current situation
On November 20 and 22, the U.S. court-marshal in Korea gave “not guilty” verdicts to Fernando Nino, controller of the armored vehicle, and Mark Walker, driver, who cold- bloodedly crushed to death the two Korean schoolgirls by their heavy armored vehicle. Now Korean people are seething with anger at the U.S. court-marshal which arrogantly and brazenly acquitted the U.S. soldiers saying that “the road accident was unavoidable”, even they have run over the two teenage schoolgirls.
The U.S. Forces in Korea have fully exposed their inhuman nature by their military court’s giving an indulgence to the killings by two U.S. servicemen.
The Korean Government, which has been powerless and irresponsible toward the not guilty verdicts which trampled the sovereignty and self-respect of our nation, is now reduced to an advocate of the U.S. verdicts.
As the crimes and arrogance of the U.S. forces in Korea have plundered the lives and self- respect of Korean people, and the Korea Government has given up protecting lives and human rights of its people from them, we declare our position as follows:
1. The United States should apologize to Korean people for its deceitful court-marshal and nullify its verdicts promptly.
We believe that the trials by the U.S. court-marshal were fraudulent dramas produced on predetermined scenarios to acquit the indicted U.S. soldiers.
Even the minimum justness of this court-marshal could not be expected from the beginning, as its judges, juries, prosecutors, lawyers and witnesses were all American military personnel.
The U.S. court-marshal eventually handed down not-guilty verdicts on the ground that the communication equipment of the armored vehicle was out of order, although there were a series testimonies at the court to the contrary. Even if the communication equipment had some trouble, the commander who led the convoy could have stopped the convoy before the armored vehicle hit the girls. These facts show how fraudulent these trials were, making a fool of Korean people.
In addition, the incident was not a simple accident or a negligent homicide but at least a homicide by willful negligence. But the military prosecutors charged the soldiers with negligent homicide and the judge has even cleared those charges. Thus, the U.S. court-marshal covered up or fabricated the case, by making it a simple accident caused by failure in the community equipment.
Furthermore, even after the prosecutors indicted the soldiers for negligent homicide, they did not show the will at all to prove their charges. Also, the court-marshal tried the two accused separately so that each could impute the responsibility to the other. The prosecution did not even adopt the convoy commander as a witness, much less indicted, even though not only lawyers but also witnesses on the side of the prosecution argued for examining into his responsibility for the incident.
In this way, the trials by the U.S. court-marshal were a fraud without justice from the beginning to the end. They were a mere formality to give an acquittal to the accused. The fact that the acquitted soldiers left Korea soon after the trials proves it.
We demand, therefore, that the U.S. Government apologize for these fraudulent verdicts of the court-marshal and nullify them. At the same time, we strongly urge the U.S. Government to hand over criminal jurisdiction to Korean side so that a Korean civilian court can try the accused U.S. soldiers.
2. Korean Government should actively push for invalidation of the “not guilty” verdicts, and trials of the murderous U.S. soldiers by a Korean court. It also should push for an overall revision of the SOFA immediately.
Korean government has enunciated its position that “Korean people must respect U.S. legal process, and that revision of SOFA is practically difficult, and anti-American move runs against Korean national interest.” But such a position is diametrically opposed to the demands and sentiment of Korean people. A senior aide to the President in diplomatic and national security affairs has even abused the Korean people by saying that those who protested against the acquittal of the two U.S. soldiers are “a handful of radicals.”
We cannot but feel shameful and angry over the flunkeyism of the Korean Government defending actively the U.S. military trials which have mercilessly trampled down the nation’s sovereignty and pride of our people.
Bent on not offending Washington, Korean Government has so far shunned the people’s demands for the transfer of criminal jurisdiction from the U.S. to Korea, and punishment of the murderous U.S. soldiers. Instead, it has rather suppressed our citizens who have fought for the settlement of the two schoolgirls’ cases. Considering such irresponsibility and a low posture of the Korean Government, acquittal of the U.S. soldiers could have been expected.
We strongly urge Korean Government to immediately stop such a subservient behavior of defending the deceitful trials of the U.S. court-martial and actively push for a nullification of its verdicts, and make the murderous U.S. soldiers stand at a Korean court. And we also ask the Korean Government to release immediately the young people and students who have been arrested for struggling for the punishment of the murderous GIs.
On the other hand, the recent U.S. military trials have clearly shown that, unless the current SOFA between Korea and the United States is revised overall, Korea cannot exercise its judicial sovereignty nor can prevent lots of crimes by U.S. servicemen. Therefore, the Korean Government should at once undertake an overall revision of the SOFA. The Korean National Assembly should also convene an extraordinary session to adopt a resolution urging the Korean Government to revise overall the SOFA.
3. We will continue our nation-wide struggle until the murderous U.S. soldiers are punished by Korean courts and Korea-U.S. SOFA is revised overall.
In compliance with the earnest desire of the whole Korean people, we will unfold an all-out struggle for the nullification of the U.S. court-marshal’s verdicts of acquittal, for the punishment of the murderous U.S. servicemen, and for an overall revision of the SOFA. Already, young people and students are spearheading the struggle, and a wide range of the young and old, without distinction of sex or social statuses, are supporting our struggle.
We are confident that, if we mobilize and develop the nation-wide will to struggle, our struggle for the nullification of the “not guilty” verdict, punishment of the murderous U.S. soldiers and an overall revision of the SOFA will surely succeed.
Now, we sincerely appeal to our people:
Let’s all people join in our struggle for the nullification of the fraudulent verdicts of acquittal, punishment of the murderous GIs and an overall revision of the SOFA!
Let’s show the Korean and American authorities our demands and will to struggle by actively supporting the national action guidelines!
Let’s settle the grudge of the killed Hyo-soon and Mi-sun, and restore, by our unified strength, the trampled national sovereignty and self-respect, and open a new chapter of national independence.
Civic groups participating in the Conference on Emergency Situation
November 27, 2002
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002