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HRW: N. Korean Founder's Birthday Should Bring Focus on Abuses

FILE - North Koreans gather in front of a portrait of their late leader Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, paying respects to their late leader Kim Jong Il, to mark the third anniversary of his death.

Human Rights Watch says the world should use Wednesday's anniversary of North Korea's founding president, Kim Il Sung, to demand an end to enduring abuses in the country.

The group highlighted the systematic way in which the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un used labor camps, reeducation centers, prohibitions on expression and the development of a cult mentality to establish an authoritarian government.

"Kim Il Sung based his rule on ruthless rights abuses, repression of independent voices, and economic and social controls that led to deprivation and ultimately widespread starvation," said Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson.

He said Kim has continued his grandfather's policies and should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights Watch cited a report last year from the U.N.'s commission of inquiry on North Korea that urged the Security Council to call for ICC action. It found that "systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed" by North Korea.

"The commission finds that there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as of the rights of freedom of opinion, expression, information and association," the report said. It said Kim's rule is guided by an ideology that references his grandfather as well as his father, Kim Jong Il.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday the world should remember Kim Il Sung's "truly horrific human rights legacy" as North Koreans celebrate him.