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.
Women on Thursday officially joined a so-called “naked festival” at a shrine in central Japan for the first time in the event’s 1,250-year history, donning purple robes and chanting excitedly as they bore a large bamboo trunk as an offering. Seven groups of women took part in the ritual which is said to drive away evil spirits and where participants pray for happiness. Despite its name, those taking part are not naked. Many women wore “Happi Coats” (robes that reach to the hips) and shorts that are typically worn at Japanese festivals, although men just wore loincloths similar to those worn by
Chinese police are working in the remote atoll nation of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, with uniformed officers involved in community policing and a crime database program, Kiribati officials told Reuters. Kiribati has not publicly announced the policing deal with China, which comes as Beijing renews a push to expand security ties in the Pacific Islands in an intensifying rivalry with the US. Kiribati, a nation of 115,000, is considered strategic despite being small, as it is relatively close to Hawaii and controls one of the biggest exclusive economic zones in the world, covering more than 3.5 million square kilometers of the
SOUTH CHINA SEA SPAT: The image bolsters a Philippine Coast Guard assertion that Chinese inflatable boats deployed floating barriers at the shoal’s entrance last week Satellite images of the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島) in the South China Sea show a new floating barrier across its entrance, near where Philippine ships and Chinese coast guard vessels have had frequent run-ins. One of the images taken by Maxar Technologies on Thursday last week and viewed by Reuters showed the barrier blocking the mouth of the shoal, where the Chinese coast guard last week claimed to have driven off a Philippine vessel “illegally intruding” into Beijing’s waters. Manila, which last week deployed a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel to patrol the shoal and
A whale as long as a train car that died after straying into a port in Osaka last month is set to be buried until it naturally becomes a skeletal specimen for a local museum. It is the third year in a row that whales have become stranded in the area, raising questions about the reasons why and the cost of handling the incidents. The animal is believed to be a male sperm whale, about 12m long and weighing an estimated 20 tonnes, and was earlier spotted in Sakai Semboku Port in the middle of last month. It had since been spotted in