In the News – NK human rights advocacy ‘turns corner’: activist

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In the News – NK human rights advocacy ‘turns corner’: activist

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, June 1 (Yonhap) — The international community needs to maintain momentum in its efforts to address North Korea’s human rights violations, a U.S.-based activist said Friday.

“We have turned a corner in North Korea human rights advocacy,” Suzanne Scholte, head of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, said in an emailed letter. “We are no longer debating its importance as we have for so many years. It is on the agenda now.”

She was describing the results of the annual North Korea Freedom Week event in Seoul to raise public awareness on the urgency of tackling human rights abuses in the communist country.

Scholte is known for more than a decade of work to publicize North Korean human rights issues.

She won the Seoul Peace Prize in 2008.

“We have seen governments finally making human rights as equal a concern as the security issues,” she said.

South Korea’s conservative government of Lee Myung-bak has openly voiced concerns about the matter, even the fate of North Korean defectors in China, bearing the brunt of subtle diplomatic tension with a key trade partner.

The Barack Obama administration has also constantly talked about its interest in the well-being of North Koreans.

Scholte noted a growing number of North Korean people are fleeing their homeland in pursuit of freedom, not just to escape hunger.

She attributed the trend to access to foreign news and culture through DVDs, mobile phones and other technology.

Citing testimony from North Korean defectors, she said USB flash drives(thumb-size data storage devices) are perhaps the best tool since they are easier to hide and carry.

“The dramatic changes inside North Korea occurring over the past decade, especially the information explosion that has hit there and the market explosion with people no longer dependent on the regime to survive, makes North Korea vastly different today than the last transition in 1994 when Kim Jong-il assumed power,” she said.

Kim’s son, Jong-un, became North Korea’s new leader after his death in December.

There are no specific signs yet of social or political upheaval stemming from the recent leadership change.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Emergency Hearing on North Korean Refugees in China

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In the News – Emergency Hearing on North Korean Refugees in China

From L to R, T. Kumar, Director, International Advocacy for Amnesty International USA; Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; and Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute testifies before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, March 5. They said that China’s forced repatriation of North Korean refugees violates International law. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) held an emergency hearing to draw attention to the over 30 North Korean refugees who had fled to China and are facing the imminent danger of repatriation. If returned, they face certain persecution, torture, and even execution.

“The international community—especially the United Nations, the Obama Administration, and the U.S. Congress—must insist that China at long last honor its treaty obligations, end its egregious practice of [forced return to North Korea], or be exposed as hypocrites,” said Rep. Chris Smith, Chairman of the CECC, March 5 in his opening remarks. Continue reading

In the News – U.S. activists urge China to stop repatriation of N. Korean defectors

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In the News – U.S. activists urge China to stop repatriation of N. Korean defectors

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, March 1 (Yonhap) — A group of U.S.-based human rights activists staged an eye-catching protest rally Thursday right in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, demanding Beijing stop the forceful repatriation of North Korean defectors.

In a street performance, a participant, wearing the uniform of Chinese security officials, dragged two women, with their faces masked and hands tied with ropes. Continue reading