State panel to uncover truth about detention camp set up by military junta in 1980s
SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- A state reconciliation panel on Thursday announced a decision to find out the truth about a civilian concentration camp set up by the military junta in the early 1980s and pay due compensation to its victims.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made the announcement after defining the so-called Samcheong Reeducation Camp case as a large-scale human rights violation caused by the illegal exercise of public power.
The now-defunct Samcheong camp was set up north of Seoul in 1980 after Chun Doo-hwan, the now-deceased president, took power through a military coup in 1979. The military junta arrested 60,755 civilians and sent about 40,000 of them to the Samcheong camp under the pretext of restoring social order.
The detainees suffered beatings and other harsh treatment, resulting in the deaths of 54 people during the camp's operation from August 1980 to January the following year. An additional 367 people died from various aftereffects after being released from the camp.
In December 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that Martial Law Order No. 13, which the military junta had cited as the grounds for the establishment and operation of the Samcheong camp, had been unconstitutional and unlawful.
The TRC said it had received reports of 113 cases of damage related to the Samcheong camp as of May 31 and has verified damage in 41 cases so far.
It said Martial Law Order No. 13 violated the constitutionally guaranteed personal liberty and the detention was a violation of human rights accompanied by forced labor, which is prohibited by many international and domestic norms.
It then recommended that the state take an active role in paying compensation to the Samcheong camp victims and establishing a trauma healing center for the surviving victims.
The commission also noted that retrials will be needed for about 100 people who have been found guilty of escaping or rioting during detention at the camp.
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