A massacre of civilians is a war crime

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A massacre of civilians is a war crime

The atrocities Russian forces left behind in Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, after they pulled out from a month-long occupation have crushed the faith in the conscience and dignity of humanity. The sight of unarmed civilians thrown into mass graves after a massacre is undeniable evidence of a war crime. The acts have wiped out any justice of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will define Russian aggression as brutality against civilization. We just pray the scenes from Bucha are not the tip of an iceberg. The tragedy must be stopped.

No matter how Russian President Vladmir Putin justifies his war, it is condemned by the international community and defies international laws. The aggression has violated the United Nations Charter that explicitly protects the territorial integrity and political independence of “any state.” There had been suspicions of war crimes from the onset of the invasion. Russian forces used prohibited weapons and randomly attacked and bombarded hospitals, schools and other civilian facilities. Evidence is building up on civilian killings and assaults and rapes on females.

The history of war has been as long as the history of mankind. After several ruthless wars, the human civilization has agreed on a set of minimum rules and defined behaviors beyond them as “war crimes” to protect the dignity of humanity. The consensus is building up around the world to define Putin as a “war criminal” and issue an international arrest to put him on a war tribunal.

But there is no way to make that happen right away. UN Secretary-General António Guterres argued that it is “essential” to hold an independent investigation into the killing of civilians for “effective accountability.” But how that can take place is unknown. The international alliance must strengthen to prevent further barbaric acts from happening. The South Korean government must toughen sanctions on Russia and join expanded humanitarian aid to Ukraine. If Seoul dilly-dallies on international actions in light of trade with Russia and its influence over North Korea, it would be surrendering its hard-earned international stature.

We welcome President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s telephone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to express his support. The Korean legislature also accepted Zelensky’s wishes to make a video plea to the National Assembly. A big country invading a smaller country and killing its civilians must not be repeated in the 21st century. The world is enduring massive economic losses and hardships from a jump in fuel prices from the ban on Russian energy trade, as it cannot tolerate Russia’s gruesome brutality against humanity.
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