Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category


TV producer held for 50 years

Hwang Won, a former TV producer from South Korea, was not allowed to return to his home country after arriving involuntarily to North Korea on a hijacked plane on 11 December 1969.  Despite repeated requests from his family, the North Korean authorities have refused to disclose information regarding Hwang Won’s vital status or whereabouts for the last 50 years.  South Korean authorities must call on the North Korean authorities to provide accurate information on Hwang Won, who will turn 82 this year.

It is almost unimaginable that someone should be in prison for half a century and there would be concerns about their ability to cope with life outside.  The Salisbury group has campaigned for human rights in North Korea and we are hopeful that, with a seeming desire for the regime to engage with the world outside, things might change.

Details are as attached

North Korea Urgent Action (Word)

 

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Jihyun Park gives moving talk to an audience in Salisbury

Jihyun Park. Pic: Salisbury Amnesty

Jihyun’s story is one that is difficult for British people to comprehend.  She has endured privation both in China and in her home country of North Korea.  She escaped from North Korea and spent six years in China effectively as a slave.  She has been trafficked and forced into marriage.  Eventually she was arrested and sent back to North Korea and was confined to a Labour Camp where she endured the severest of treatment.  She escaped a second time via Mongolia and now lives in Manchester where she has been reunited with her son.

Part of her harrowing story was how she managed to regain contact with her young son on the phone while she was still in North Korea.  He had been told she had deserted him and would not speak to her.  It took several calls before meaningful contact could be resumed.

Jihyun and Kenny Latunde-Dada speaking at Five Rivers. Pic: Salisbury Amnesty

On Thursday 16 March, Jihyun came down to Salisbury and spoke to an audience at the Five Rivers Leisure Centre in the city.  Over 50 attended and were immensely moved by her experiences.  The evening started with a short film called The Other Interview (which can be viewed by following this link) followed by questions.  The moderator was Amnesty regional representative Kenny Latunde-Dada who came down from Cambridge for the event.  The audience asked many questions about both her experiences and life in North Korea.

There was some discussion about the role of China in both Jihyun’s story and more generally.  North Korea is a sensitive issue for China and they are concerned about such an unstable country with its equally unstable leader on its doorstep.  There are indications that they are tightening their policy of returning escapees to North Korea.

We were delighted to welcome Jihyun Park and were grateful for her making the trip down from Manchester to speak to us.  We were also grateful to Kenny Latunde-Dada for coming down from Cambridge.  Jihyun said she is writing her memoires and it should be published soon.  Those interested may wish to read In Order to Live by another escapee Yeonmi Park published by Penguin (2015).


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North Korea Video made by the Salisbury group


Talk by someone who escaped from the hermit state of North Korea

Jihyun Park. Picture: Right to Remain

This Thursday 16th March Jihyun Park who managed to escape the closed country of North Korea will be giving a talk at the Five Rivers Leisure Centre, Hulse Road starting at 7:30 pm.  Ji has led an incredible life having managed to escape the prison state of North Korea to China.  In China she was trafficked and entered into a forced marriage.  She worked more or less as a slave in China and was subsequently arrested and returned to North Korea where she was sent to a labour camp.  She escaped again and now lives near Manchester.

North Korea is seldom out of the news these days with missile launches into the Sea of Japan and the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half brother in Malaysia.  But the human rights situation in that country is dire and people live in situations of great adversity.

The event is free and there is a departing collection to help with our expenses.


See our video on North Korea

Flyer for the talk


Salisbury group makes its first video

Our first video film is here which concerns the dire human rights situation in North Korea.  A first attempt at a longer video.  Our thanks to those who took part which included members of the Romsey and Mid Glos groups of Amnesty and to Fiona Bruce MP who agreed to be interviewed.  We will be publishing other versions of this video soon.

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We reproduce a piece written by Fiona Bruce MP on the subject of violence against women and the denial of human rights in North Korea [DPRK]

As we mark International Women’s Day, I am minded to reflect upon the recent conference in the House of Commons hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, of which I am Co-Chair.  Titled Addressing Violence against Women and Girls in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the conference looked to a forgotten corner of Asia and a forgotten group of people: North Korea’s women and girls.

Notorious for its diplomatic belligerence, its disregard for international law and its nuclear programme, the DPRK (or North Korea) successfully concealed its widespread human rights violations from the world for decades.  An era of silence ended in 2014 when a United Nations Commission of Inquiry reported:

The gravity, scale and nature of [North Korea’s human rights] violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.

The severity of this UN statement is worth repeating: North Korea’s human rights situation has no parallel in the contemporary world.

Violence against women

As the international community slowly awakened from its slumber, it was no longer farfetched to recognise North Korea as the largest concentration camp the world had ever known or to rank the horrors of Yodok, Hoeryong, and Pukch’ang alongside Auschwitz, Belsen, and Dachau.  It became a fact that North Korean women have and continue to experience sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault and harassment in public and private spheres of life; human trafficking; forced abortions; slavery; sexual exploitation; psychological violence; religious and gender discrimination; and institutional and economic violence.

This violence in North Korea is neither occasional nor confined to certain quarters — it is endemic; it is state sanctioned; and it is perpetrated against women precisely because they are women.  In every sense of the term, North Korea’s abuses are ‘gendered’.

Why has the international community been silent on this issue?  We can look to many factors, but first and foremost is the discourse that surrounds North Korea.  Dominated by talk of nuclear weapons, regional security, engagement, unification, and humanitarian aid, there has been little room for North Korean women.  And, if truth be told, advocates have simply not been loud enough on this issue.

This year’s International Women’s Day marks an important phase for women’s rights.  Just months after the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women, and fifteen years since the pioneering UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, this is the year that the world is developing the Agenda for Sustainable Development looking to 2030.  The Sustainable Development Goals include a stand-alone goal to achieve gender equality and empowerment for women and girls.

North Korea’s female population should not be forgotten on March 8th.  Gendered violence and discrimination are destroying lives and ruining families in North Korea.  Women are enduring unimaginable suffering and the UK must use what engagement it has with the DPRK to push for real change.  The APPG’s conference on VAWG in North Korea brought together North Korean victims, exiled DPRK Government officials and experts on gender and the rights of women and girls.  Women’s and girls’ human rights is an area in which the UK exhibits international leadership. Let us draw from our knowledge and set out to challenge gendered violence in the DPRK just as we do in so many other countries in the world.

Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, is Co-Chair of the APPG on North Korea jointly with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP and Lord Alton of Liverpool.


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UN Security Council: North Korea

Posted: December 15, 2015 in North Korea, torture, UN

North Korea is not forgotten

The UN Security Council has a chance to show that the world has not forgotten about the victims of crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in North Korea, and that those responsible will face justice

said Nicole Bjerler, Deputy Representative at Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

This meeting should serve as a wake-up call to the North Korean authorities to put an immediate end to the systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations that persist in the country. A starting point would be for them to cooperate with the UN and let independent human rights monitors into the country.

The meeting on Thursday is a significant step forward in the UN Security Council’s commitment to address the horrific human rights situation in North Korea alongside peace and security.

“Peace and security cannot be separated from respect for human rights, accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims and their families. These issues urgently demands the Security Council’s continued attention,” said Nicole Bjerler.

International pressure on North Korea has been building since the publication of the UN Commission of Inquiry report in February 2014.  The damning report documented widespread human rights violations including forced labour, deliberate starvation, executions, torture, rape, infanticide, and up to 120,000 men, women, and children detained incommunicado in North Korea’s political prison camp system – a situation described as “without parallel in the contemporary world”.

Last December, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution which, among other measures, called on the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including through consideration of referral of the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court.  The General Assembly is reiterating its call in this year’s resolution, which was adopted by the Third Committee on 19 November and is to be formally adopted in the Plenary next week.

“The UN Security Council must seize the opportunity today to tell perpetrators of crimes against humanity in North Korea that ultimately they will be held accountable,” said Nicole Bjerler.

 


The situation in North Korea remains dire as far as human rights are concerned and a number of NGOs have written to the Security Council asking for action to be taken

North Korea letter.

 

 


Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November

Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November

Yeonmi Park’s book A North Korean’s Girls Journey to Freedom starts today (Monday) on BBC Radio 4 at 09.45.  It is the book of the week.


The April meeting minutes are here thanks to Karen.  They contain a lot of useful information about the death penalty and North Korea in particular.  There is a group meeting this Thursday 14th

April minutes

Display in the cloister


Please find below the minutes of the March meeting thanks to Karen.

March minutes