In the News – China Must Investigate Torture Claims

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In the News – China Must Investigate Torture Claims

China on Tuesday flatly denied torturing a prominent South Korean activist who was detained in Dandong for 114 days for helping North Korean defectors. China claims no laws were broken during its investigation of Kim Young-hwan and his rights were not violated.

The claims contradict Kim’s own account in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo on Monday, where he said he could smell his flesh burn as Chinese security agents tortured him with a cattle prod.

Kim vividly recalled the brutal torture he suffered in the Chinese prison. “Three state security agents checked my blood pressure and collected a blood sample on April 15 and then proceeded to torture me with a cattle prod from that evening until the early hours of the following morning,” Kim said. “They put the cattle prod, wrapped with electrical coils, inside my clothes and placed it on my chest and back,” he said. “It is hard to describe the pain I felt. It felt like being electrocuted continuously.” Kim added he suffered continuous blows to his face and they stopped only when his entire face was bloody.

He said he was also deprived of sleep from April 10 to 15 and was forced to wear handcuffs and stand for 10 hours straight. “That left my hands paralyzed for more than a month,” Kim said.

Kim’s account of getting a medical check-up before being tortured suggests meticulous planning by Chinese security agents. There are accounts that Chinese agents warned him not to talk about the torture he suffered in Dandong.

When confronted with such a vivid account of torture by a victim, the first thing to do would be to investigate whether those allegations are true. It is simply irresponsible of Beijing to deny them. Perhaps according to Beijing’s standards, the torture Kim suffered is par for the course and represents no great violation of a prisoner’s rights.

But as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China also signed the UN Convention against Torture. It should find out whether any other permanent member of the Security Council has rejected calls for a probe into allegations of torture of a foreign national. Even a superpower like China can lose global respect that way.

Kim said he wants no financial compensation but simply an apology from China. It is not a huge request to make. But if Beijing rejects it, the only thing left to do is to conduct a joint investigation through the UN Human Rights Council and appeal to the international community. If human rights groups around the world join hands to pursue the truth, even China would feel the heat.

Original Article

In the News – Dossier: U.S. found N. Korea behind 1987 KAL bombing

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In the News – Dossier: U.S. found N. Korea behind 1987 KAL bombing

By Lee Chi-dong, Lee Woo-tak
WASHINGTON, July 18 (Yonhap) — The United States government conducted its own investigation into the mid-air bombing of a South Korean jet in 1987 and concluded it was an act by North Korea, a set of declassified State Department documents shows.

U.S. government officials interrogated Kim Hyun-hui, a self-confessed North Korean terrorist responsible for the bombing of Korean Air (KAL) 858, which killed 115 people, shortly after the incident in November 1987, according to the dossier.

Kim, traveling with a fake Japanese passport through Europe, made a failed attempt to commit suicide shortly before being arrested. She is now living in South Korea as a housewife.

“In a situation we controlled Ms. Kim picked out the photographs of 3 North Koreans who had contacted her under alias in Belgrade and Budapest, 2 in Belgrade one in Budapest,” read a diplomatic cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to Washington in February 1988.

It is among 57 documents posted in June on the department’s website.

“Then 3 photographs were picked out of a collection of 26 shown her. In each case the individual she picked was in fact the photograph of a North Korean investigation department agent posted in that city at the time she was there,” it added. “We consider that part of the compelling independent evidence that she was working for North Korea.”

This file photo shows Kim Hyun-hui is taken out of a plane in South Korea, with her mouth taped, on Dec. 15 1987. (Yonhap)

The document also showed that a bureau affiliated with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency carried out a linguistic analysis of Kim’s statement, “which demonstrates that the words she used are North Korean (dialect).”

The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) was run by the CIA from 1941 to 2004.

South Korean officials also “strongly suspected” North Korea’s involvement from the beginning of their probe and reached the same conclusion, another document shows.

But the South Korean government, led by iron-fisted President Chun Doo-hwan, did not consider military retaliation, according to the document.

“Chun went on that he would rule out military retaliation at that time,” James Lilley, who served then as U.S. ambassador to Seoul, said in a cable sent in January 1988.

Chun was quoted as saying, “South Korea was in the course of a political transition and had to host the Olympics.”

In his comments attached, Lilley said, “There are Koreans who favor military retaliation but emphatic that Korea would not undertake any military action in the short term.”

In South Korea, there is a lingering controversy over the KAL case.

Some still claim that the Chun administration might have orchestrated the bombing itself to influence the presidential elections in December 1987.

In 1988, meanwhile, the U.S. blacklisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism on the basis of the KAL incident.

Washington removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008 in return for its initial move towards denuclearization.

Original Article

Concealed by the Falling Snow

Case NSD460 of 2005 (Australian Court Review)

Today it is my hope to bring to you the joy that comes from reading an Australian court record.

I provide brief highlights, but if you have more time, the whole document makes for fascinating reading.

This, then, is a glimpse into the life in North Korea, and the escape from it, of an applicant for asylum. Continue reading