In the News – Group Seeks UN Help Over S.Koreans Detained in China
A South Korean activist group is seeking UN help over China’s detention of South Korean activists involved in helping North Korean defectors there. Kim Young-hwan and three fellow activists have been detained in China for unclear reasons since March 29.
Han Ki-hong of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights said on Sunday, “We are discussing ways to appeal to the UN or large international human rights organizations and highlights China’s illegal detention of Kim and his colleagues on the vague charge of threatening China’s national security.”
The Chinese government has denied Kim access to his lawyer in person or by phone. He was allowed just one 30-minute meeting with the South Korean consul on April 26. The network, for whom Kim has been working, says such harsh treatment violates international law and human rights.
The group has been talking to the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, which recently extracted through the UN an official response from North Korea on the fate of Shin Suk-ja, the wife of a prominent South Korean who was lured to North Korea but escaped.
Kwon Eun-kyoung at the ICNK said, “We have had legal advice that China clearly violates international law by detaining Kim and his colleagues for more than 37 days without indictment and obstructing meetings with his lawyer and consular officials. We are drafting petitions to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Special Rapporteur on Torture.”
The group has also written to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
In the News – Human Rights Groups Call on UN Over N.Korea Gulag
Over 10,000 people die in North Korean prison camps every year, 20 to 25 percent of them from forced labor, the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea said Tuesday.
The group consists of some 40 leading human rights organizations and activists including the world’s big three — Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International League for Human Rights — and was established in September last year.
In a press conference Tuesday it called on the UN to carry out a special investigation of North Korean gulags and said it submitted a petition to the UN Human Rights Council.
Based on testimonies of North Korean defectors, it says there are six political prisons in the Stalinist country housing 150,000 to 200,000 people who are subject to inhumane treatment such as forced labor, torture and public execution. It said the work of just one UN special rapporteur on North Korea is not enough to save the vast number of political prisoners there and urged the UN to establish a commission to investigate crimes against humanity in the isolated country.