The Heroic Gwangju Uprising Sowed the Seeds of Democracy in South Korea

In May 1980, pro-democracy protesters mobilized in the South Korean city of Gwangju. The US-backed military dictatorship responded with bloody repression, but the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising was vital for the democratization of Korean politics.

Barricades during the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea, May 1980. (François Lochon / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The morning of May 18 began with a chill that quickly gave way to warmth. It was a clear spring day; the mood in the city, however, was bleak. Every street and avenue brimmed with silence and tension. Older plainclothes policemen, temporarily transferred to Gwangju from police stations and precincts in other communities in the province, stood guard in pairs at key locations.

Distraught locals came out into the side streets and exchanged news under their breath. The torchlight demonstrations that lit up the city only two nights earlier were still clear in their minds, and the absence of the flames was keenly felt.

People gathered in small groups in the downtown area and the main street of Geumnam-ro, sharing rumors. Even passersby stopped to listen. Citizens clashed with stationed police officers on occasion, but there was no sign of unusual activity.

At 7:00 a.m., students attempting to enter Chonnam National University to access the library were beaten by the paratroopers at the main gates. They had been completely oblivious to the political changes sweeping the nation — and the expansion of martial law — and had only focused on studying for employment or civil service examinations. Half a dozen or so injured students were taken to the Noh Jun-chae Clinic for treatment.

As time passed, more and more students crowded the main gates. Some had gathered to use the library or meet for group excursions, while others had come for sports. Yet others had come out because of a pact to gather at the main gates at 10:00 a.m. if the school was ordered to close. The students circled the gates, which were defended by the paratroopers, and refused to depart. They had no idea that those who had stayed on campus overnight had been taken into custody.

Attacking the Students

At that time, eleven soldiers from the 33rd Battalion of the 7th Brigade stood guard at the gates to Chonnam University. However, as the number of congregating students increased, Lieutenant Colonel Kwon Seung-man, commander of the 33rd, deployed an additional thirty soldiers to the gates. Kwon was anxious to resolve the situation quickly because Brigadier General Shin Woo-sik, commander of the 7th Brigade, was scheduled to visit at 11:00 a.m.

Lee Gwang-ho noted that by 9:00 a.m., the number of students had risen to about fifty. They put themselves into a formation and attempted to break through the barricade at the gates with cries of “End martial law now!” However, their attempts were unsuccessful, and they were forced to simply circle the gates from the outside. By 10:00 a.m., their numbers had grown to over a hundred, and the crowd of onlookers also increased in number.

An officer picked up a megaphone to demand that students disperse. In response, the students assembled by the bridge in front of the gates for a sit-down demonstration. Their numbers soon rose to over two hundred. The demonstrators shouted rallying cries of “End martial law now,” “Down with Chun Doo-hwan,” “Down with martial law troops,” and “Open schools again.”

Lieutenant Colonel Kwon, the highest-ranked officer of the special forces troops stationed at Chonnam, sensed that something was amiss and personally stepped forward. He warned demonstrators, “Disperse immediately, or you will be disbanded by force.” The students simply chanted more loudly. In response, Kwon roared, “Charge!”

Paratroopers rushed into the crowds with menacing yells, clubbing students indiscriminately; unlike the police, they showed no restraint. Soon, many bleeding students fell to the ground. The students were rattled by the violence, fleeing into alleyways to regroup and fighting back by throwing rocks.

The 7th rushed the students again without hesitation. They chased down one of the demonstrators, clubbing them in the head until they were unconscious, and dragged them away. The skirmish went on for about thirty minutes, but unarmed university students ultimately stood no chance of defeating special forces who were trained in riot suppression and guerrilla warfare.

At around 10:30 a.m., Kim Han-jung (age twenty) cried, “We should relocate to Province Hall instead of staying here to fight a battle we can’t win.” The students accepted the proposal and headed downtown.

Random Violence

Paratroopers were engaged in violence at the rear gates of Chonnam as well. However, the situation was completely different. Students did not congregate at the rear gates, but the soldiers stationed there indiscriminately attacked passersby and took them into custody for no reason. Paratroopers even charged into buses that had stopped to let off passengers, dragging off young people and beating them.

At 10:00 a.m., Beom Jin-yeom (twenty-one) — who was on the cusp of starting his mandated military service — was on his way to pick up pesticides on an errand for his father, when the bus he was on stopped briefly at the rear gates of Chonnam University. The doors opened, and soldiers poured inside and started beating passengers around his age. About twenty of them were taken away to Chonnam University for no reason. A female student who was unable to walk because of a leg injury was dragged off bodily.

Jang Cheon-su (twenty-four), who was in the furniture business, disembarked from the bus at Chonnam’s rear gates for personal business around 10:30 a.m. and was immediately taken to the guardhouse by two soldiers who kicked and clubbed him. Arms locked and helpless to defend himself, Jang sustained heavy injuries to his head and back without so much as an explanation. During the investigation by the prosecutors’ office, Lieutenant Colonel Kwon admitted that the 7th had used excessive force at the very beginning of the Gwangju situation:

Captain Ko, commander of the 7th Field Battalion, which was stationed at the rear gates of Chonnam University, said that “there was jeering from the bus, so the sentries dragged out multiple people, struck them, and had them kneel while the field commander reeducated them before sending them away.” Because of the nature of the reeducation process, they would have struck those people several times.


The demonstrations weakened considerably when the [army] helicopter joined the pursuit. There was a real possibility that the student demonstrations would simply end there, as with similar incidents during the Yusin regime. The last group of students who remained in the Gyerim Cinema area took shelter in a nearby table tennis hall to avoid the helicopter.

Although they only numbered around twenty, these students played a critical role in rekindling the flames of resistance that afternoon, reviving it in much the same way as the initial demonstration at the Chonnam gates. A short discussion later, they agreed to meet in front of the municipal student hall on Chungjang-ro 1-ga at 3:00 p.m., spreading the news to their allies. They would take a break for lunch and then regroup. Starting in the afternoon, businesses in the downtown core shuttered their storefronts and closed down for the day.

Students began to congregate in the city center and the plaza in front of Gwangju Park around 2:00 p.m., their numbers increasing to more than five hundred an hour later. At 3:00 p.m., they joined the other demonstrators and headed to the alley by the student hall. Now numbering over one thousand, the demonstrators slipped in through a gap in the police watch — a group of twenty to thirty officers relaxing by their jeeps and vehicles equipped with tear gas spray.

The students launched a surprise attack with a volley of rocks, sending the police scattering. Demonstrators tore down police vehicles and equipment by setting the seats on fire and working together to tip the vehicles over. The crowds cheered as flames and smoke rose into the air.

The success in front of the municipal student hall encouraged the demonstrators to take even bolder action. As they scattered and regrouped again and again over the course of the police pursuit that morning, the students learned to maximize their mobility. The demonstrators marched with one person in the lead, followed by another person carrying the Korean flag, then a dozen or so students in a scrum singing together. The formation made it easy for fellow demonstrators to quickly join the group. This method was employed by demonstrators all afternoon in their protests.

The afternoon was marked by a departure from the morning’s demonstrations, where the crowds had numbered only about five hundred and were easily chased down by police. The number of demonstrators swelled in the afternoon, with their marches becoming more organized and proactive.

Following Orders

At 10:00 a.m. that day, Second ROK [Republic of Korea] Army Commander Jin Jong-chae received word of the confrontation at the Chonnam University main gates and immediately departed for Gwangju by helicopter with Operations Officer Kim Jun-bong from their post in the city of Daegu in the country’s southeast. Upon arriving at combat arms command at 11:00 a.m. to reports that student demonstrations were expanding into the downtown core, Jin ordered Jeolla Province’s martial law commander, Yun Heung-jeong, to personally report on the Gwangju situation to martial law command.

An hour later, he returned to Daegu. At the same time, 7th Brigade Commander Shin Woo-sik also headed to combat arms command after briefly visiting Chonnam and Chosun universities. Following Commander Jin’s instructions, Yun ordered Commander Chung Ung of the 31st Infantry Division to deploy the 7th to suppress the demonstrations.

At 12:45 p.m., Chung issued Operation Order 1, commanding the majority of the 7th Airborne Special Forces Brigade to prepare to enter the downtown core, leaving only token forces at Chonnam and Chosun universities to maintain their control over the campuses. Chung did not send in his troops immediately, however, because he judged that the situation had not escalated beyond police capabilities. It was only when Yun pressed him, saying, “Why aren’t you following orders to deploy the men?” that Chung deployed the 7th, unable to disobey his superior officer.

At 2:25 p.m., Chung personally headed to Chosun University by MD 500 helicopter. At the campus, he held a meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Kwon Seung-man, commander of the 33rd Battalion; Lieutenant Colonel Kim Il-ok, commander of the 35th Battalion; and the Gwangju Police’s security division chief.

Chung explained the demonstration situation in Gwangju over a map of the city and commanded those in attendance to move out to Geumnam-ro by 4:00 p.m. Because the police had already blocked off Province Hall, the 35th would cut off the street on either side with its intersection with Chungjang-ro as the center. The 33rd would start from Geumnam-ro 5-ga and put pressure toward Province Hall to disperse the demonstrators.

Brute Force

The 33rd Battalion departed Chonnam National University at 3:40 p.m. At 4:00 p.m., they reached the crossroads in front of 180 Geumnam-ro, Buk-dong, about 450 meters from the Yu-dong three-way intersection. The crossroads led to the gates of Gwangju Jeil High School.

The 7th Airborne Special Forces Brigade came to a halt at their commander’s orders. At that exact moment, a loudspeaker mounted on the commander’s vehicle declared: “Citizens of Gwangju, return to your homes. Any and all persons who partake in illegal demonstrations will be arrested. Return to your homes.”

Civil servant Kim Jeong-seop (age thirty-four), who worked at the Ministry of Education outside the city in Jangseong County, had attended the wedding of a coworker’s sibling at the Gwangju Community Center and was on his way to the intercity bus terminal to take a bus back to Jangseong County. However, the city bus taking him to the terminal stopped near Suchang Elementary School; the driver was unable to continue the route.

Kim disembarked and, about a minute later, happened to witness the soldiers charging the demonstrators. In an instant, the demonstrators parted and scattered everywhere. The soldiers hunted down anyone they had locked onto — not only demonstrating students but also passersby. Their boots and batons fell on anyone they caught. It all happened in the blink of an eye.

Kim had thought himself safe because he was older than the students, but he was soon proven wrong:

I turned at the sound of military boots and movements. About forty to fifty paratroopers were coming after me, brandishing their batons. I quickly yelled, “I’m not a student!” but they surrounded me and kicked me. They punched me all over and pummeled me with their batons and the butts of their M16 rifles. Even then, I had no idea why I was being attacked, and I was outraged. But there was nothing I could do in the face of such brute strength.

Kim collapsed in the street. All he could hear was the sound of the clicking breechblock each time someone hit him with the butt of a rifle. Eventually, he lost consciousness.

“Die, Gwangju Rats!”

The 200-odd members of the 35th Battalion, sent to the Chungjang-ro intersection on Geumnam-ro 2-ga, attacked citizens in a similarly aggressive manner. Onlookers were bewildered by the unbelievable scene unfolding before their eyes. The soldiers passed the Kwangju Bank head office and the Catholic Center as they marched toward the Dong-gu District Office and the Gwangju Tourist Hotel, pulling aside any young people they saw on the street or in the buses stopped on the roadside, stripping them down to their underwear and beating them, pushing their heads against the pavement.

In the blink of an eye, the demonstration turned to chaos. The soldiers treated both men and women with the same ruthlessness, mobbing individuals in groups of three or four to club and trample them. Paratroopers behaved as though they had been given a license to kill.

A little past 4:00 p.m., YWCA chairwoman Cho Ah-ra (age sixty-eight) witnessed the scene from the intercity bus terminal area. The soldiers stopped city buses and searched them, dragging out without explanation anyone who looked to be college-aged. Resistance was met with a group beating by seven or eight soldiers, who would shout, “Die, Gwangju rats!”

When a female bus conductor tried to stop them, they hurled insults at her and clubbed her as well. She lost consciousness and rolled off the bus. If a flagged bus continued to drive several more meters to find a place to park, the soldiers would immediately climb aboard and club the driver in the back of the head.

One young man disembarked from a city bus and ran into a blocked alleyway, where he was caught by the soldiers. He knelt on the ground and begged for mercy. An elderly man who had been watching from his door rushed in to shield him, and the soldiers struck him down, crying, “Out of the way, bastard!” The elderly man fell, bleeding. The young man picked up a rock, but the soldiers brutally beat him down. They dragged him out limp into the street by his legs.

Sports Day

Things were little different in the Gwangju Jeil High School area. Kim Beom-dong (age thirty-three), a cook who worked at Jeilgwan, a Chinese restaurant at the entrance of Chungjang-ro 1-ga, was repairing a broken stove when he spotted paratroopers hunting down demonstrators. He witnessed a young woman being assaulted by the soldiers on the roadside in front of the barbershop next to the high school.

Three or four soldiers grabbed her by the blouse, tearing it off and exposing her. They kicked her from the sidewalk and onto the street. They lunged at her again. There was a loud noise, and the woman went silent. About fifty people watched from Chungjang-ro in fear, yelling for the soldiers to stop.

In that instant, more than thirty soldiers swarmed the area from Chungjang-ro 4-ga to Chungjang-ro 5-ga one block over, armed with guns, batons, and cage-equipped helmets. The onlookers scattered in every direction. Kim, who had been wearing grease-covered gloves and sandals, did not think to run.

The soldiers found him in front of the restaurant. They charged him, one of the soldiers driving the butt of his rifle into his shoulder. Kim lost consciousness on the spot and was carried to the Kim Du-won Neurosurgery Clinic across from Hanil Bank by others at the scene.

The Gwangju Jeil High School athletics field, in the meantime, had been hosting a sports day for alumni of Chosun University’s College of Medicine and Medical School. The festivities were nearing a close when the paratroopers charged in, some rushing to the classrooms and others swarming the athletics field. The campus was devastated.

Some of the alumni were taken into custody, and the rest were forced to scatter without saying goodbye. Fourth-year medical student Lee Min-oh (age twenty-five), who was in the graduating class, had stepped out of the high school campus briefly to see what was happening on Geumnam-ro and was targeted by the soldiers. He managed to avoid them and took shelter in the Gwangju Jeil High School principal’s residence, but he was discovered when the soldiers stormed the home.

They kicked him in the stomach, and as he reeled in pain on the floor, they stomped on him again and again. That night, Lee underwent abdominal surgery at the Korean Armed Forces Hospital. Part of his pancreas was severed, and he lost 2.5 liters of blood due to intestinal hemorrhaging. Lee narrowly survived but lost 80 percent of his pancreas and underwent a splenectomy.

Dirty Hands

Kim Woo-sik (age thirty-nine), who ran a barbershop at the Gwangju Tourist Hotel near Geumnam-ro 1-ga by Province Hall, witnessed police officers being beaten by paratroopers. He and his employees went outside upon hearing a commotion and saw more than a hundred students fleeing the paratroopers. The soldiers took about thirty to forty students and citizens into custody, depositing them in front of the hotel.

Prisoners were stripped down to their underwear and beaten, and their heads were pushed against the ground. Two of the paratroopers dragged a female student from near the Gwangju branch of the Bank of Korea. When she begged for mercy, the soldiers swore and kicked her even harder.

Soon afterward, when the soldiers left to arrest more people, a man freed everyone who had been dragged there. He was the chief of the security division at the South Jeolla Province Police. When the soldiers realized what had happened, they brutally assaulted him and dragged him into a back alley by the Dong-gu District Office.

Police Commissioner Ahn Byeong-ha had given orders concerning police response to the demonstration at 11:00 a.m. that day: “Do not unnecessarily chase down those who scatter, avoid causing injuries, take into custody those who resist, and make certain that students are not injured in the process of arrest and detainment.”

When the demonstrations escalated, he ordered, “Make certain to take demonstrating students into custody.”

At 4:00 p.m., Cho Hun-cheol (age twenty), who was preparing for university entrance exams, had finished playing a game of billiards with his friends and was about to wash his hands when a pair of paratroopers entered with batons in hand. They divided up the billiards hall patrons into those with clean hands and those with dusty hands, and beat the latter under the assumption that their hands were dirty because they had been among the demonstrators throwing rocks.

Cho protested, asserting that his hands were covered with chalk, but the soldiers refused to listen. They beat Cho ruthlessly and dragged him before the Gwangju Post Office, where many people had already been brought and forced on their knees. Soon afterward, the soldiers took them away on trucks.

“Kill the Cat’s Paw President!”

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Dongmyeong-dong and Sansu-dong were completely unaware of the deployment of paratroopers. A group of more than two thousand demonstrators charged toward the Dongmyeong-dong Police Substation. Chonnam student Yu Seung-gyu (age twenty-one) witnessed outraged students tear down the station and remove the portrait of President Choi Kyu-hah from the wall.

Some among the crowds yelled, “Choi Kyu-hah is a puppet!” or “Kill the cat’s paw president!” Demonstrators took documents, desks, and chairs from the substation and threw them into a roaring fire.

A similar scene unfolded at the nearby Jisan-dong Police Substation. Demonstrators stood in a circle around the pyre of office supplies and furniture, singing the national anthem and giving three triumphant cries of “Manse!” before continuing their march in the direction of the five-way intersection at Sansu-dong neighborhood around 4:40 p.m.

On the way to Sansu-dong, demonstrators at the back of the group raised a sudden uproar. Hong Sun-hui (age twenty), a postsecondary student who was part of the crowd of demonstrators, looked back and spotted a police bus come up on Nongjang Bridge. Its windows were equipped with protective cages.

The bus made its way toward the Gwangju District Court. In the blink of an eye, demonstrators surrounded the bus and threw rocks at it. The protective cages broke, and forty-two terrified police personnel stepped outside. They had been temporarily reassigned to Gwangju from nearby Damyang County to bolster local forces.


The demonstrators decided to take the police hostage and request a prisoner exchange for the students taken into custody. Marching the police at the center of their formation, the demonstrators made their way to Province Hall. At 5:00 p.m., the procession reached Cheongsan Private School at the entrance of Dongmyeong-ro.

At that moment, several military trucks carrying paratroopers emerged. A chill ran through the crowd of demonstrators. They had already seen the soldiers in action at the main gates of Chonnam that morning. The demonstrators released the police personnel.

The paratroopers, who had surrounded the demonstrators, took the opportunity to force their way directly into a head-on clash. The demonstrators scattered in a matter of seconds. The soldiers targeted fleeing students one by one and chased them down in the chaos.

Thirty men from the 33rd Battalion of the 7th Brigade were stationed at Gwangju National University of Education at 10:00 a.m. Jeon Gye-ryang (age forty-five), a career soldier on the cusp of being discharged, had come home to the neighborhood on leave. At 4:00 p.m., he looked out from the second floor of his home across the university and witnessed soldiers from the 7th working in groups of two or three, hunting down all young people on the streets.

The soldiers brought them to the empty lot behind Jeon’s house and had them kneel, kicking and stomping on them until they were bloody, and hauling them into military trucks. Although himself a soldier, Jeon trembled at the brutality of the troops.

Isolation and Defeat

The nine o’clock news that day did not even mention Gwangju. The media turned a blind eye to the catastrophe unfolding in the city. To make matters worse, there were no newspapers that day because it was a Sunday. Completely cut off from the rest of Korea, Gwangju was plunged into terror.

When the Gwangju Uprising ended on May 27, the bodies at Province Hall were moved to Sangmu Hall, where about sixty bodies had been housed until that point. As for the thirty bodies collected in the rear courtyard of Province Hall that afternoon, as many as fourteen had died on May 26 or earlier but had not been identified, and sixteen had died earlier that morning.

However, the bodies of those who died outside the Gwangju Armed Forces Hospital, in the minibuses in Jiwon-dong and on the road in front of Junam Village, near Gwangju Prison, and near Hyocheon Station were not fully accounted for. Some were collected by the resistance and taken to Sangmu Hall, but those left in areas occupied by the military were either left on the roadsides to rot or buried in unmarked or temporary graves.

From May 18 to 27, martial law authorities deployed approximately twenty thousand trained soldiers to Gwangju to suppress the demonstrations. The population of the city at the time was approximately eight hundred thousand, meaning that one soldier was deployed for every forty citizens.

Brutality Against Prisoners

The fall of Province Hall was far from the end. Unimaginable suffering awaited those who continued to resist. Those arrested on the scene were made to lay facedown on the floor as soldiers trampled over them. Those captured on the second or third floor of Province Hall had their hands tied behind their backs and were forced to belly crawl down the stairs.

Anyone whose pockets turned up ammunition was threatened with immediate death. Those who raised their heads were struck with the handles of pickaxes. Almost as painful as the beatings were the bindings around the prisoners’ wrists, which were generally any ropelike objects soldiers could find — telephone cables, shoelaces, belts — tied so tightly as to obstruct blood flow. Prisoners’ hands turned blue and swelled.

Even after the bindings had been cut or removed, the scars and the pain persisted over three months later. When hauling the prisoners onto buses, the soldiers treated them like chunks of meat at a slaughterhouse. Those captured at Province Hall, the YWCA, the Jeonil Building, Gwangju High School, and other skirmish sites on the morning of May 27 were strung together to be taken away. Anyone who tried to look up was clubbed, so the prisoners could not tell where they were headed.

When they reached their destination, the prisoners were forced to move forward with their heads against the ground. They were provided with no food on the day of their arrest. For some time, the prisoners did not know where they had been taken. It was only when they encountered those detained during the preventative custody sweep on May 17 that they learned that they were in the holding cells at Sangmudae.

The holding cell area was a large semicircular space divided into six slices around a central area, with only the smallest side of each section open — albeit barred. This layout made it possible for MPs in the central area to keep an eye on all prisoners without having to turn. Each section had raised wooden floors and was barely large enough for thirty people, but because soldiers had already detained over three hundred people previously and had an additional 590 prisoners from May 27, approximately 150 people were stuffed into each section.

Reward and Punishment

Between May 17 and late July, 2,699 people were arrested in connection with the Gwangju Uprising. Five hundred ninety were captured on May 27 alone following the attack on Province Hall, and more than one hundred more were detained by the end of the month. By May 31, a total of 1,039 people — including those detained during the uprising — were under investigation in custody.

Defense Security Command initiated a crackdown, arresting anyone who had wielded a gun during the Gwangju Uprising, members of the settlement committees, and executives of postsecondary student councils. While the special forces teams marched on Province Hall on May 27, the rest of the military surrounded the city perimeter and rooted out any potential suspects who attempted to leave Gwangju.

Police were offered rewards of one million won and a one-rank promotion per collected firearm. Former regional defense squad members were no exceptions to the crackdown. Every resident of Taebong Village and Suksil Village who assisted in the defense of Baegopeun Bridge from May 21 to 23 under the command of Moon Jang-woo was arrested.

When no firearms were found, police dragged away and beat the village’s young people, elders, and the women who cooked for the demonstrators. They thoroughly searched each home, even breaking down closet doors. Between seventy and eighty residents of Suksil Village were detained and tortured during this period.

The resistance’s operations director, Park Nam-seon, was labeled a “riot ringleader” and placed in solitary confinement in a white room in the basement. He was stripped naked and beaten mercilessly over the course of three days. Park was struck about the head, shoulders, and the rest of his body. His molars and incisors broke, and he lost consciousness numerous times.

The National Security Forces investigators drove needle-thin picks about five centimeters in length under Park’s fingernails and demanded that he confess to being a North Korean agent. Several days later, the members of the resistance council — haggard from days of torture and beatings — were moved to the holding cells at Sangmudae, where investigators who had already prepared the scenario for their investigation waited.

Afterlives of Repression

At 4:00 a.m. on May 28, Kim Yeong-cheol, planning director for the uprising leadership team, went to the restroom attached to the back of the holding cells and attempted suicide. The shock of watching coworker Yoon Sang-won die before his eyes in the conference room at Province Hall and the news of the death of his close friend Park Yong-jun at the YWCA had rattled him. The ensuing arrest, torture, beatings, and humiliation drove him to his suicide attempt.

He slit an artery in his left wrist with a sharp object and smashed his head against the corner of the concrete wall multiple times. MPs heard the noise, dragged him out of the restroom, beat him with pickax handles and trampled on him, and transferred him to the Armed Forces Hospital. Two months later, Kim began to show signs of mental illness. Fellow prisoners requested an in-depth psychiatric examination for Kim but were denied.

Kim’s symptoms worsened day by day, even after he was released on December 1981 thanks to the suspension of his sentence. He underwent an operation at Chonnam University Hospital and went from one medical institution to another, including Naju National Hospital, until he died in August 1998.

Unable to bear the beatings and torture, mobile strike force member Na Il-seong collected painkillers, antipyretics, and antidiarrheals from weekly visits by the military medic. He consumed them all at once to end his own life but survived. The attempt caused severe damage to his digestive system, which continues to cause Na pain to this day.

The phrase “human rights” was essentially off-limits to anyone labeled a rioter. All sorts of unusual tortures were inflicted on the prisoners, but they were made to feel as though they were lucky to be spared their lives. Those who were tortured or beaten suffered from lasting aftereffects even after their release, which prevented them from leading normal lives. A significant number were left with mental conditions that led to their deaths. They were victimized and terrorized even after they were finally freed from detention.