North Korea was the subject of a February UN report, which states that the Republic’s actions towards its citizens are as bad as those of the Nazis. The response of its most important ally, China, to the report is that the human rights group should mind its own business. At the UN Human Rights Council, it said that the United Nations should bug off and that without firsthand accounts, allegations must be seen as false. North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong echoed that response, saying that violations cannot be proven and that the nations casting blame should in fact be investigated for human rights abuses.
North Korea relies on China for arms, food, and fuel. China is responsible for the support of the North, allowing it to become what is now Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un’s regime. Historically, China has opposed any sanctions against its trading partner, in order to avoid a regime collapse and a consequent influx of refugees. Tensions have mounted surrounding the nuclear tests conducted through North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, as well as the public shaming and execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek. Jang was an important liaison between Pyongyang and Beijing.
The UN account includes testimony from hundreds of victims, including those who defected North Korea, and calls for international justice for security officials, including Kim Jong-Un himself. The chief author of the report, former judge Michael Kirby, spoke of the need for great courage to speak the truth and let justice be served. Mr. Kirby also noted in his report that citizens of other countries – notably South Korea and Japan – had been abducted by North Korea over a period of two decades.
In the UN announcement, North Korea’s crimes are reportedly chilling and just as bad as Nazi war atrocities led by Hitler. The document depicting mass killings, enslavement, starvation, systematic torture, and sexual violence is decried by China, saying that the international organization should not meddle in countries’ affairs. In a word, it should bug off. The report additionally named China as culpable for having maltreated defectors from North Korea.
The 400-page paper includes demands to close political prison camps, which are said to hold up to 120,000 North Korean citizens forced to endure mistreatment and starvation, causing those who survive to rely on rodents, grass, and lizards for sustenance. However, China’s resistance – and, ability to veto U.N. actions – has nations alarmed that efforts to manage the humanitarian crisis might be thwarted. A Chinese counselor who attended the report’s announcement in Geneva, Chen Chuandong, said that the accusations were unfounded.
Despite the complication of China’s denials, Mr. Kirby remained undeterred, calling for a healing. He said that he was certain that North Korea would eventually be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in The Hague. The ICC is regulated by the Rome Statute, and is intended to stop the impunity of perpetrators of the worst crimes concerning the international community. The U.S. envoy on human rights issues in North Korea, Robert King, spoke, as well. He said that despite a potentially blocked U.N. resolution by China, pressure would be maintained on Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international watchdog organization with the single-minded purpose of protecting and defending human rights. Their focus is on investigating crimes and targeted, strategic advocacy against such abuses. HRW’S statement in response to the UN document was that, now that North Korea’s actions were deemed crimes, it is up to the international community to bring the offenders to justice. Up until now, international focus on North Korea had been on the threat of its nuclear weapons and proliferation.
The global grassroots human rights organization, Amnesty International, focuses on investigation, exposure, education, and mobilization, to establish safety and justice throughout the world. They called for joint effort to exert pressure on the government in North Korea to deal with the widespread violations against humanity in the country.
Those who hope for change say that China’s call for the UN to “bug off” will be met with opposition from world advocates. They say that the crimes of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” have been revealed, and that Nazi atrocities were equal or as bad as the current violations occurring in the North. They say that justice will prevail.
By Fern Remedi-Brown
Daily Mail U.K.