News / Asia

    North Korea Blasts UN Human Rights Probe

    Former North Korean defectors, who have been living in South Korea since their escape from the North, hold signs during a rally in Seoul, Nov. 2009.
    Former North Korean defectors, who have been living in South Korea since their escape from the North, hold signs during a rally in Seoul, Nov. 2009.
    The government of North Korea on Friday condemned a  U.N. committee's unanimous decision to investigate it for human rights abuses, calling it "an act of political fraud." The foreign ministry in Pyongyang, in a statement released through the Korean Central News Agency, said it completely rejects the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council and will ignore it.

    The council, meeting in Geneva Thursday, voted to examine what it calls North Korea's "systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights." Of particular focus will be imprisonment and execution of North Korean citizens for so-called political crimes, as well as torture and the kidnappings of foreigners over many decades.

    South Korea's government says it expects the U.N. inquiry will contribute to an improvement of human rights in North Korea.

    Kim Yun-tae, secretary general of the Seoul-based Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, hailed the action as a breakthrough, noting that previous U.N. resolutions on North Korean human rights were just declarations.  He predicted that this decision  could lead to legal action being taken against Pyongyang if investigators determine the North has committed crimes against humanity.

    Kim added that while North Korea likely will not accept the commission's findings, it could play a strong psychological role in leading to an improvement of conditions for the people living in the repressive state.

    As a result of the U.N. Council's action, three experts will spend one year intensively investigating the human rights abuses and, in particular, those violations that "may amount to crimes against humanity."

    The decision is also being praised by non-governmental organizations. Human Rights Watch said the establishment of the commission “sends a strong message to Pyongyang that the world is watching and its abuses must end.”

    In a statement, Amnesty International called for going beyond satellite imagery to map the extent of the North Korean prison camp system, saying independent human rights observers urgently need unfettered access to the facilities.

    Meanwhile, the administration of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in power for one month, has approved a shipment of aid to the North by a private charity group.

    The Seoul-based Eugene Bell Foundation will deliver  $600,000 worth of tuberculosis medicine to eight clinics it runs in North Korea next month.

    A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, in charge of relations with the North, stresses the approval should be seen as a humanitarian concern, not as a conciliatory gesture at a time military tensions on the peninsula are "highly elevated."

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora