Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Threats of violence from veterans groups derail Vietnam War event

They’re going around the whole country trying to make us look like butchers of innocent people.” “It looks like those [censored] found out that we were gathering and moved somewhere else.”

On the afternoon of Apr. 7, about 300 members of the Korean Victims of Agent Orange Veterans Association (KAOVA) held a demonstration across from Jogye Buddhist Temple in central Seoul and shouted invectives over a loudspeaker. The group had promised to physically prevent a reception for a photo exhibition that was going to be attended by survivors of civilian massacres by South Korean troops during the Vietnam War. The members of the group hung up banners in the area that said, “Are you going to insult Vietnam veterans who were victims of Agent Orange and turn Viet Cong into innocent victims of massacres?” and played military songs such as “Here Come the Tigers” and “Sergeant Kim’s Return from Vietnam.” “Our grandsons and granddaughters thought their grandfathers were heroes in the Vietnam War. What are they going to think if they hear that we were massacring innocent civilians?” members of KAOVA shouted. Some of the members came very close to a clash with the police that had been dispatched to the scene. The Peace Museum had invited two victims of civilian massacres during the Vietnam War to attend a reception for a photo exhibition. The reception was supposed to take place at Jogye Buddhist Temple on the evening of Apr. 7. However, the event fell through after the Jogye Order of Buddhism cancelled the reservation of the space, fearing a backlash from the veteran groups. “Considering that no progress has been made in the 15 years that have passed since the issue of massacres of Vietnamese civilians by South Korean soldiers was made public, I’m not surprised. Still, this is disappointing,” said Seok Mi-hwa, secretary general for the Peace Museum.MORE

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