My Lai massacre remembered

This is the first video about the My Lai massacre.

This is the second video.

From Al Jazeera:

Revisiting the My Lai massacre

Pham Thi Tuan says she lay motionless among dead bodies for hours in the ditch where she and her baby daughter had been herded with more than 100 other people.

It was only the corpse of her father that prevented her from being killed on March 16, 1968 in what gained universal notoriety as the My Lai massacre.

Now 75, Pham is one of the few remaining survivors of the atrocities that saw US soldiers from Charlie Company chopper in to the tiny hamlet in central Vietnam and spend the next four hours killing and maiming up to 500 innocent Vietnamese, many of them women and children.

More than 40 years on the memories are still painful.

“They ordered all of the families to sit or stand in the ditch. Then they shot,” she says. “After five minutes they shot the second time. If they heard weeping they shot a third time.

“I cannot forget it as long as I live. I even remember the shooting of my people in the ditch in my dreams.”

The hard facts of the massacre are well established through gruesome photographic evidence. When news of the killing emerged more than a year later 26 members of Charlie Company were arrested and many charged with murder.

Only William Calley was convicted and he served just four and a half months of his prison sentence.

But although the ‘what’ of My Lai is now known the reasons why such a crime could be committed against civilians are not and as the 40th anniversary of the killings passed, rampages such as Haditha in Iraq mean old wounds are being reopened and old questions asked once more.

The crime that shook the world. Fifty years ago a US army unit committed one of the worst war crimes ever. PETER FROST recalls the massacre of My Lai.

23 thoughts on “My Lai massacre remembered

  1. April 30: Vietnam celebrates Liberation Day

    By Peter Boyle

    April 30, 2009 — Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific —
    There are two unforgettable images of Vietnam’s Liberation Day on April
    30, 1975. The first is the image of liberation fighters entering the
    Independence Palace (now Reunification Palace) in Saigon (now Ho Chi
    Minh City). The second is the hasty evacuation by helicopter from the
    roof of the US embassy. Thirty-four years later Vietnam will celebrate
    not just the end of a 16-year war of aggression by the US, Australia and
    other imperialist and pro-imperialist states but also the end of the
    two-decade-long economic blockade that was subsequently imposed by the
    US on this poor and war-ravaged nation.

    * Read more


  2. Friday, Aug. 21, 2009

    William Calley apologizes for My Lai massacre

    By Dick McMichael – Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

    William Calley, the former Army lieutenant convicted on 22 counts of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, publicly apologized for the first time this week while speaking in Columbus.

    “There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”

    In March 1968, U.S. soldiers gunned down hundreds of civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. The Army at first denied, then downplayed the event, saying most of the dead were Vietcong. But in November 1969, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed what really happened and Calley was court martialed and convicted of murder.

    Calley had long refused to grant interviews about what happened, but on Wednesday he spoke at a Columbus Kiwanis meeting. He made only a brief statement, but agreed to take questions from the audience.

    He did not deny what had happened that day, but did repeatedly make the point — which he has made before — that he was following orders.

    Calley explained he had been ordered to take out My Lai, adding that he had intelligence that the village was fortified and would be “hot” when he went in. He also said the area was submitted to an artillery barrage and helicopter fire before his troops went in. It turned out that it was not hot and there was no armed resistance. But he had been told, he said, that if he left anyone behind, his troops could be trapped and caught in a crossfire.

    Asked about American casualties, Calley said there were two injuries, but neither was the result of enemy fire, adding, “They didn’t have time.”

    One person asked about the story of a helicopter coming into My Lai during the massacre and its pilot threatening to open fire if the killing of civilians didn’t stop.

    Calley said the pilot asked if he could take children out of the area and he relayed that request to his captain, who said the pilot could.

    As far as any threats to fire on American soldiers by the pilot, or any threats of firing on the chopper, he said he does not recall hearing about that. He did say the helicopter was making a lot of noise during his conversation with the pilot.

    Asked if the story about the threat to fire on troops killing civilians came from the pilot, Calley replied, “It certainly didn’t come from me.”

    When asked if obeying an unlawful order was not itself an unlawful act, he said, “I believe that is true. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a second lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.” Calley then said that was not an excuse; it was just what happened.

    The officer Calley said gave those orders was Capt. Ernest Medina, who was also tried for what happened at My Lai. Represented by the renowned Defense Attorney F. Lee Bailey, Medina was acquitted of all charges in 1971.

    That same year, Calley didn’t fare as well.

    After four months of testimony in a Fort Benning courtroom and almost two weeks of jury deliberation, he was convicted of premeditated murder. After the verdict was read, but before sentencing, Calley was allowed to address the court.

    “I’m not going to stand here and plead for my life or my freedom,” Calley said. “If I have committed a crime, the only crime I have committed is in judgment of my values. Apparently I valued my troops’ lives more than I did those of the enemy …”

    Calley was sentenced to life in prison, which was later shortened considerably.

    Many at the time considered Calley a scapegoat, forced to take the fall for those above him. That sentiment had been very strong when the late federal Judge J. Robert Elliot released Calley from custody after a habeas corpus hearing. An appeals court reversed Elliot’s ruling and Calley was returned to Army custody, but the Army soon paroled him.


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  16. 50 years ago: Korean forces massacre Vietnamese village

    Between December 3 and December 6, 1966, South Korean soldiers serving in the American imperialist war against Vietnam slaughtered 430 civilians in the village of Bình Hòa in Quảng Ngãi province, eleven miles from My Lai, where in 1968 US soldiers would rape, torture, and murder 504 villagers.

    The Koreans, like the Americans at My Lai, killed every individual they found. Most were children, elderly, and women—21 of whom were pregnant when they were murdered, according to the testimony of relatives. After killing the people, they slaughtered the village’s livestock. People and animals were left in heaps to rot.

    The massacre at Bình Hòa was not an isolated event in the mid-coastal provinces of Vietnam. It followed by just two months a similar mass murder at nearby Dien Nien-Phuoc Binh, where ROK troops killed 280 villagers on October 9-10, 1966. Early in 1966, Korean troops killed some 250 in the Tuy Hoa district of Phu Yen, including 170 killed in one day at Hoa My Tay village. Also in 1966 ROK forces killed upwards of 1,000 in a series of massacres at Binh An.

    Across Vietnam historical markers commemorate these US-backed atrocities. A stone marking the spot where the village of Binh An once stood reads, “Deeply carve the hatred against the American aggressors. Here on Feb. 2, 1966, South Korean mercenaries, under the command of American imperialists, massacred 380 people.”

    Decades after these events of 1966, General Chae Myong-shin, the commander of South Korean troops in Vietnam, admitted that it was “possible there were innocent civilian victims in those areas, but that was unavoidable in view of the peculiar nature of the Vietnam War.” He blamed such killing on the fact that it “was extremely difficult, or virtually impossible, to tell apart civilians and guerrillas.”

    The claim that occupying forces could not “tell apart civilians and guerrillas,” which became practically a mantra of the American effort to defeat the Vietnamese Revolution, arose from a basic fact that the US and its allies could not admit: Their war was not against “communist aggression,” but against the Vietnamese people, in South as well as North Vietnam.

    Among American “allies” in Vietnam, the US-puppet dictatorship of South Korea supplied the most soldiers, some 320,000 in all. Among these, over 5,000 were killed and nearly 11,000 wounded.


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