Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category


This is the monthly report on the state of death penalty around the world, thanks to Lesley for compiling it.

No to the death penaltyThe news that Ray Hilton has been released after 28 years on death row is both heartening and shocking.  That the state of Alabama should have so badly conducted his trial and then refused to allow the fresh ballistic evidence to be heard, which was the only evidence against him, is particularly shocking.  There can be few better examples of the dangers of this penalty than a case such as this.

Death penalty report APRIL 2015

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The February minutes are below thanks to Karen.  A full agenda as you see with a lot going on.

February minutes

#NorthKorea

Posted: February 15, 2015 in North Korea, torture
Tags: , ,

north-korea-flagWe attach here a speech by Fiona Bruce MP given just before Christmas last year on life in North Korea.  The group has campaigned on several occasions concerning life in this country and this has included a video on YouTube as well as petitions.  We feel Fiona’s speech is worthy of a wider audience and we include most of it here:

Life in North Korea is not a joke. It is not a joke that desperate women wade across the frozen Tumen river to escape to China, only to be caught by Chinese men, sold into sexual slavery and then, when used up, sent back by the authorities to face torture in North Korea and the forced abortion of their unborn children.

north koreaIt is not a joke for those hundreds of thousands who live in concentration camps reminiscent of the Nazi era, many for uttering a few words against the North Korean regime — or, worse, under the regime’s atrocious “guilt by association” rule, not for something they have done, but for something their relatives have done to offend the regime. Prisoners are told they are not humans but animals and indescribably tortured: steam-rolled to death; killed by having hot molten metal poured over them; frozen to death; starved to death; worked to death in factories; hung upside down to have water poured into their nostrils, like so much beef hanging from hooks in a slaughter house; deprived of clothing and sleep, then mercilessly pummelled with wooden bats; kept in cells with two holes in the door for them to stick their feet out to be horrendously tortured; and frequently forced to watch executions, including of their blood relatives. As my co-chair of the all-party group on North Korea, an increasingly active group, Lord Alton, said:

Christmas spent in a North Korean gulag will be just another day of grotesque suffering.”

Life in North Korea is not a joke outside the concentration camps either. It is not a joke for the thousands of stunted, parentless children—the so-called wandering swallows—who eke out a living on the streets. The problem of malnutrition in North Korea is so bad that the minimum height for a member of their armed forces is just 4 feet 2 inches. It is not a joke for the disabled in North Korea either. Just when we thought that reports from North Korea could not get any worse, this week we heard at first hand from an escapee at a meeting of the all-party group in the UK Parliament about how disabled people, including children, were sent:

for medical tests such as dissection of body parts, as well as tests of biological and chemical weapons. Dwarves are castrated. Babies with mental and physical handicaps are routinely snatched from hospitals and left to suffer indescribable things until they die. The disabled in North Korea are simply disappeared.”

We were told that by a disabled escapee, Ji Seong-Ho, who, at 14, lost his left hand and leg after passing out from hunger while scavenging for coal on railway tracks and was run over by a train. He was told by North Korean Government officials:

disabled people like you hurt the dignity of North Korea and you should just die.” He told us, “That really hurt.”

At Christmas time, let us remember that living in North Korea is not a joke for the many brave Christians who every day fear incarceration simply for owning a Bible. One lady has told the all-party group that if soldiers suspect that someone is a believer, they will ransack their home until they find what they are looking for. In her home, they did: they noticed a brick slightly out of position, and behind it they found her Bible, so she was taken to prison.

I have mentioned just two of many escapees who have spoken to our group this year and who are now finding sanctuary in the UK and increasingly giving testimonies of their suffering to Members of Parliament.

For the rest of my speech, however, I want to speak not to fellow Members, or even to our constituents, but to the people of North Korea. When I first spoke about North Korea in the House, I was amazed to receive a letter from supporters in South Korea saying, “You are being heard” so I know that when we speak here, many of you in North Korea hear what we say—and that is increasingly the case with modern means of communication, such as smuggled-in USB sticks.

I want you, the people of North Korea, to know that your suffering is being heard. Do not think that no one cares. Do not think that no one is speaking out for you. In the UK Parliament, more and more people are speaking out and showing that they care. We have compassion for you in your suffering, and this Christmas remember that our compassion is as nothing compared with that of Christ. One day, this too will end. Kingdoms rise and fall. We are praying for you and for your freedom.

In addition to praying and speaking out, more and more people are acting. This year, a 400-page UN report by Mr Justice Kirby catalogued the brutal atrocities you experience. The world now knows of them and cannot stay silent. Increasingly, people in the free world are calling for action on your behalf. Only last week in this Parliament, the all-party group on international freedom of religion or belief issued a report that can be found at http://www.freedomdeclared.org which added to demands made last month at the UN by no fewer than 111 countries that those responsible for human rights violations in North Korea be brought to justice by the International Criminal Court.

We also called for all appropriate justice mechanisms to be considered to bring the North Korean Government to account for their terrible atrocities against their own people. Here in the UK Parliament, as MPs we continue to press for the BBC World Service to broadcast to you, the people of North Korea, in the Korean and English languages, and we MPs continue to press for an increased dialogue with China to stop its policy of forced repatriation and for humanitarian aid to the people of North Korea.

So, at Christmas time our hearts go out to you, the North Korean people, from the UK. Know that we are with you; know that we are supporting and working with your relatives and friends who have escaped to this country and know that they have a voice; and know that we shall continue to speak out for you and to press for action on your behalf until the day comes, which it surely will, when your country is free again and your suffering is at an end.

The Shadow Leader of the House, Thomas Docherty responded saying:

“As ever, the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) made an impassioned and knowledgeable speech about the situation in North Korea. She has a tremendous track record in relation to the persecution of Christians, and—again, as ever—she made a hugely important contribution. I know that her work has the support of all Members.”

Fiona Bruce MP


#northkorea

Kim Yong-Un

Kim Yong-Un

Sony Picture’s film The Interview, which was not screened due to the alleged hacking attack by North Korea, attracted considerable publicity at the end of last year.  It represented a flagrant attempt by North Korea – if indeed they are the culprits – to silence the screening of a film about the fictional attempt to assassinate the leader of that country, Kim Jong-un.

Amnesty International has released The Other Interview which features the story of Park Ji-hyu who fled starvation in North Korea and was then trafficked into China and sold as a slave to a farmer.  She was reported to the Chinese authorities as a defector and was forcibly returned to North Korea.  She was sent to one of their hellish prison camps where she faced starvation and torture.  She eventually managed to escape.

Amnesty International’s UK Director Kate Allen said ‘Sony has every right to make a comedy about North Korea.  We should all be worried when blackmail, threats to cinemas, and the hacking of private data are being used to censor and silence.

‘In reality, many people in North Korea are subjected to an existence beyond nightmares.  The population is ruled by fear with a network of prison camps a constant spectre for those who dare step out of line.

‘Thousands of people in the camps are worked to death, starved to death [or] beaten to death.  Some are sent there just for knowing someone who has fallen out of favour.

‘Amnesty is releasing The Other Interview so that people all over the world can hear first-hand how people in North Korea are suffering appallingly at the hands of Kim Jong-un and his officials.

‘They don’t want you to see it which is precisely why you should.’

preview can be seen on YouTube.  We do not know if this film will be shown in Salisbury but we will see if we can arrange a viewing somewhere.

This is being written while the dreadful events are playing out in France following the assassination of journalists and cartoonists in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.  This is another attempt – this time by violent means – to silence criticism and the particular kind of satire that this magazine goes in for.

The Salisbury group’s North Korean YouTube video clip can be see here.


We attach an urgent action concerning North Korea.  Nine people have been forcibly returned to NK and

Jooil Kim - a North Korean escapee - at the signing in Salisbury

Jooil Kim – a North Korean escapee – at the signing in Salisbury

are at risk of torture and/or execution.  We are pleased to see the country receiving a great deal more attention over the last year or so and there is now greater understanding of the ghastly conditions that people experience in the camps. Please write if you can.

Urgent action


Group welcomes speaker on #Korea.  On Thursday 13 November, the group was pleased to welcome a Korean speaker as part of our activities to keep the problems in North Korea in the limelight.  Bona Shin is a member of a large community of Koreans who live in London, the largest such community in Europe.  There are thought to be around 32,000 living in the UK and 691 of whom from North Korea.

Bona Shin

Bona Shin

Other speakers have mentioned the difference between Pyongyang and the rest of the country.  People who live in Pyongyang are the elite and they are reasonably well fed by North Korean standards.  It is the rural areas which are impoverished and where people struggle to survive.  She said there are no disabled people in the capital either: they are all moved out to the rural areas.

She mentioned the propaganda initiative recently where the North Korean embassy hosted an art exhibition.  Developments in the last week or so at the UN where there are attempts to get the regime and Kim Jong un indicted for crimes against humanity.

There are reports of the infamous Yodok camp being closed and prisoners being moved to Camp 14 or Camp 16 as part of the propaganda by the North but this cannot be confirmed at the time of writing.  Bilateral talks may begin with the EU on the question of human rights.

There are still survivors from the Korean war which Britain contributed large troop numbers second only to the USA.  There is a British Korean Veteran Association


The meeting took place tonight with a speaker from South Korea.  A full report will appear soon.

#stoptorture  And a reminder that we are running a stall on Saturday 15th in the Market Place to highlight the issue of torture around the world.  If you can come along and sign or better still, help for an hour that would be great.  It will be the first outing of the torture wheel based on the Philippine’s security services wheel used to decide on how they are going to torture a suspect.

Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November

Group campaign event, Saturday 8 November


Amnesty group makes YouTube video.  The #Salisbury group of Amnesty International broke new ground today when they prepared

Jooil Kim at the signing

Joo il Kim at the signing

a short YouTube video clip to highlight the appalling situation in the North Korean prison camps.  Fifteen members held up cards which spelled out the message ‘Close the Camps’ to mimic the huge displays which take place in Pyongyang.  It was part of a morning spent collecting signatures which unfortunately had to be curtailed because of the heavy rain which made it impossible to continue.   Despite this, in the hour or so we were able to operate, 84 people signed.

Jooil Kim (pictured) an escapee was able to attend and take part and we were pleased to have a member of the South Korean Embassy come and sign as well.

Thanks for all who came and made this a success and especially to Karen (and husband) who did all the work preparing the cards. Now watch the video …!

UPDATE: revised YouTube video

UPDATE II: link to a newspaper interview with Joo il Kim

Link to the New Malden North Korean site


We have several events in the next couple of weeks and anyone free to help will always be welcome.

  • Today! Saturday 8 November at the Guildhall.  We shall be holding an event in aid of our #NorthKorea campaign and we will be doing a moving display at 10 o’clock and our first YouTube posting if we can manage it.  If you are free at that time that would be really useful – we need people to hold some cards.
  • Thursday 13 November at 7 pm (note earlier time).  Normal monthly meeting followed by a talk by Kenny Latunda Dada who has been to Salisbury on two previous occasions and Bona Shin who is a South Korean activist.  They will be talking about #NorthKorea.
  • Saturday 15 November at the Library which will be a card signing as part of the Stop Torture campaign, #stoptorture.  If you can help or come along and sign that would be appreciated.

These are the minutes of the October group meeting – thanks to Karen.

October minutes