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Human rights chief warns life in North Korea remains ‘daily struggle without hope’

Ambassadors held an open meeting on human rights in the country commonly known as North Korea convened by Japan, South Korea, Britain and the United States.

China and Russia opposed the meeting and called for the 15 members to vote according to procedure but were defeated.

Lonely and stuffy

Briefing from Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk described the DPRK as “a country isolated from the world” and “a suffocating, suffocating environment where life is a struggle Every day there is no hope.”

He called on the Government to “change official concepts and overcome the isolationist mindset that only creates deeper and deeper mistrustcreating a never-ending spiral of groupthink at the expense of a more prosperous and secure future for its people,” adding that “human rights, in all their aspects, offer solutions and a way forward.”

The protracted nature of the human rights situation there “is subjecting people to inconsolable suffering,” in addition to being a factor behind the instability causing wider ramifications in the region.

He emphasized: “The human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cannot be separated from considerations surrounding peace and security on the peninsula, including increased militarization on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

Can’t leave

Mr. Türk emphasized the deepening repression of freedom and movement in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Recent months have seen limited partial reopenings of borders, and now it’s almost impossible for people to leave unless they have permission from the Government.

“In short, we are witnessing a situation where people can no longer leave even when they are in the most desperate situations or at risk of persecution,” he said.

“One consequence is The divided family becomes even more divided. Not leaving means not reuniting with family abroad.”

Harsh laws, horrifying consequences

Suppression of freedom of expression has also worsened, especially due to laws on the use of foreign media, eliminating local dialects and ensuring youth “adherence to a socialist lifestyle” ”, all of whom were subjected to harsh punishments.

One “particularly scary example” is that North Koreans “risk death simply by watching or sharing a foreign television series.”

Famine and forced labor

Mr. Türk noted that socioeconomic conditions had become “unbearably harsh” in the DPRK and that he was particularly troubled by lack of access to food.

“Reports indicate that nearly half of the population has been food insecure in recent years, with child wasting increasing in some provinces,” he said.

Meanwhile, “Forced labor still exists in many forms” and authorities also maintain a high level of control over workers sent abroad.

The UN human rights chief said he had also repeatedly raised the issue of enforced disappearances, both within North Korea and of citizens from other countries such as neighboring South Korea and Japan. Ban, which has happened in the past 70 years.

“Painfully, the full truth about the fate of these people – which we estimate to be more than 100,000 people – remains unknown to this day,” he said.

‘Turning around’ because of isolation

Mr. Turk emphasized the importance of continued international attention to the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The scene of misery, repression, fear, hunger and hopelessness in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is extremely alarming,” he said.

Any path out of this begins with turning around from the dead end of self-imposed isolation: open the country, reintegrate with the international community, facilitate people-to-people exchanges, promote international cooperation and focus on the welfare of all.”

Military goals take priority

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also addressed the Council.

Elizabeth Salmón reports that the growing security tensions on the Korean peninsula are due to the Government’s decision last September to introduce into the Constitution a policy to promote the development of nuclear weapons, followed by announced in January that they would no longer pursue unification with the Republic of Korea. Korea.

“The suspension of the 2018 comprehensive military agreement by both sides also underscores the severity of the problems we face this year,” she said.

Ms. Salmón told the ambassadors that the Government’s continued prioritization of military, nuclear and missile programs placed a heavy burden on the people, especially women and children.

“Resources available to realize human rights are diminished, the exploitation of labor to fund militarization becomes widespread, and the result is a decline in the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights,” she said. rights are often ignored”.

Gumhyok Kim, civil society representative, summarized the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Gumhyok Kim, civil society representative, summarized the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Learn a ‘terrible truth’

Also briefing the ambassadors was civil society representative Gumhyok Kim, speaking “on behalf of the millions of North Koreans denied the most basic human freedoms.”

Mr. Kim, who defected 12 years ago, admitted that he was nervous to speak at the Council “but I will take the courage to think of my friends back homewho dreams of being free to say what I am about to say.”

Born into a leading family in the capital Pyongyang, Mr. Kim went to study abroad in Beijing at the age of 19. Using the Internet, he said he learned about his homeland and the “terrible truth” that had previously been hidden from him.

Mr. Kim said, his voice choked with emotion: “The country that is said to have nothing to envy in the world does not appear anywhere.” “Instead there were political prison camps, starvation, public executions and people risking their lives to escape..”

Mr. Kim called on the Council to “stand on the side of the Korean people, not on the side of the dictatorship. We need to value the rights of the North Korean people to the same degree as we do with nuclear weapons and missiles.”


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