Christians welcome new UN rapporteur on North Korea - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
April 16, 2004

Christians welcome new UN rapporteur on North Korea

-16/4/04

A Christian human rights group has welcomed the establishment of the post of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation of the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea (North Korea).

The post was established on Thursday by the Commission on Human Rights in a resolution on the DPRK. The resolution passed by 29 votes to 8, with 16 abstentions.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it is pleased with this "significant step" in the monitoring of human rights in North Korea having lobbied for the introduction of the first ever resolution on North Korea last year and then for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur this year.

As part of the strategy to raise the issue of human rights as one of key concern amongst the international community, Christian Solidarity Worldwideís International Advocate had orchestrated a special meeting at the Commission to present evidence of the chilling human rights situation in North Korea.

Excerpts of the BBC film ëAccess to Evilí were presented, introduced by the BBC Presenter Olenka Frenkiel, who provided further evidence of gross human rights violations.

A North Korean defector, Won Cheol Kang, spoke powerfully of his own experiences. In his moving account he described how he was sent to detention camp for crossing the border. Within three months he saw eleven of his fellow inmates die.

Poignantly he stated that at the time he did not know people were not meant to die in prison. He also spoke of the practice of infanticide, describing how one of his fellow detainees was taken away pregnant and returned having had a forced abortion. Again he commented that at the time he did not question this and only realised the seriousness of the abuse when he left North Korea.

He summed up this broad lack of awareness in the simple but shocking statement: ëNorth Korean people do not know what human rights are.í

Alongside his own experiences in detention, he described some of the issues which face North Koreans outside detention, including how he and his fellow school pupils had to view public executions.

He then went on to articulate the total lack of religious freedom in North Korea. David Drew MP who chaired the meeting also drew attention to the severe persecution of Christians in North Korea and restrictions on religious freedom.

CSW also welcomed the references in the text of the UN resolution on the serious human rights abuses including the all-pervasive and severe restriction on religious freedom.

Also addressed in the resolution were the practice of forced abortions and infanticide in detention centres and camps.

CSWís Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas commented: "The people of North Korea suffer under one of the most ruthless and repressive regimes in the world and it is high time the spotlight was focused on this unspeakable suffering.

"In due time the international community will see the evidence of the extremes of inhumanity and barbarity that are inflicted on the people and, no doubt, wish it had acted sooner. After 50 years of rule, it is a welcome development to have an international monitor appointed and we hope this will encourage North Korea to finally move towards respecting international human rights law and basic principles of human dignity."

Christians welcome new UN rapporteur on North Korea

-16/4/04

A Christian human rights group has welcomed the establishment of the post of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation of the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea (North Korea).

The post was established on Thursday by the Commission on Human Rights in a resolution on the DPRK. The resolution passed by 29 votes to 8, with 16 abstentions.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it is pleased with this "significant step" in the monitoring of human rights in North Korea having lobbied for the introduction of the first ever resolution on North Korea last year and then for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur this year.

As part of the strategy to raise the issue of human rights as one of key concern amongst the international community, Christian Solidarity Worldwideís International Advocate had orchestrated a special meeting at the Commission to present evidence of the chilling human rights situation in North Korea.

Excerpts of the BBC film ëAccess to Evilí were presented, introduced by the BBC Presenter Olenka Frenkiel, who provided further evidence of gross human rights violations.

A North Korean defector, Won Cheol Kang, spoke powerfully of his own experiences. In his moving account he described how he was sent to detention camp for crossing the border. Within three months he saw eleven of his fellow inmates die.

Poignantly he stated that at the time he did not know people were not meant to die in prison. He also spoke of the practice of infanticide, describing how one of his fellow detainees was taken away pregnant and returned having had a forced abortion. Again he commented that at the time he did not question this and only realised the seriousness of the abuse when he left North Korea.

He summed up this broad lack of awareness in the simple but shocking statement: ëNorth Korean people do not know what human rights are.í

Alongside his own experiences in detention, he described some of the issues which face North Koreans outside detention, including how he and his fellow school pupils had to view public executions.

He then went on to articulate the total lack of religious freedom in North Korea. David Drew MP who chaired the meeting also drew attention to the severe persecution of Christians in North Korea and restrictions on religious freedom.

CSW also welcomed the references in the text of the UN resolution on the serious human rights abuses including the all-pervasive and severe restriction on religious freedom.

Also addressed in the resolution were the practice of forced abortions and infanticide in detention centres and camps.

CSWís Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas commented: "The people of North Korea suffer under one of the most ruthless and repressive regimes in the world and it is high time the spotlight was focused on this unspeakable suffering.

"In due time the international community will see the evidence of the extremes of inhumanity and barbarity that are inflicted on the people and, no doubt, wish it had acted sooner. After 50 years of rule, it is a welcome development to have an international monitor appointed and we hope this will encourage North Korea to finally move towards respecting international human rights law and basic principles of human dignity."

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