About half of 451 North Korean defectors questioned in a survey endured physical violence at the hands of North Korean authorities, a rights group said yesterday, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un prepared to meet US President Donald Trump for a summit.
On Sunday, US lawmakers called Kim the “leader of perhaps the world’s most repressive regime,” but analysts say that as in the leaders’ first summit, human rights are unlikely to be addressed in their second.
Trump and Kim are due to meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, today and tomorrow, eight months after their historic Singapore summit.
On the top of their agenda is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and what concessions the US might offer in return for North Korea giving up its weapons.
North Korea’s poor human rights record is not likely to figure prominently, if at all.
The survey, conducted between 2015 and 2018 and released by Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group, found that three out of four North Korean defectors had, before they fled North Korea, experienced physical violence or the death of close family members, by execution or starvation, forced repatriation, arrest or detention.
About 48 percent of the respondents said that they had personally experienced violence perpetrated by the North Korean authorities, including beating, torture, rape and other sexual assault.
There has been dismay that rights seem to have been relegated down the agenda in dealing with North Korea.
In Seoul, protesters yesterday tore up photographs of Kim and threw them to the ground.
“We are skeptical of the US-North Korea summit without discussing human right issues,” said Ihn Ji-yeon, a leader of the anti-North rally and a spokeswoman for the Korean Patriots Party.
British Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations Tariq Ahmad on Monday told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, that human rights in North Korea had not improved.
“Despite some welcome signs on the political track, there has been no improvement in the human rights situation,” he said.
“Meeting the challenge of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, as well as addressing other issues such as North Korea’s systemic, gross violations of human rights, is of concern to all Americans and to our allies and partners,” US senators said in a letter to Trump on Sunday.
However, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha told the Geneva council that “human rights cannot thrive in the absence of peace.”
She said that progress toward a “nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” which had started, would have enormous rewards, including an improvement in human rights.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory