Human Rights Abuses, Nukes, Famine and Hacking: North Korea's litany of shame
Is it any surprise that North Korea recently conducted its fourth test of a nuclear bomb?
No, it isn't.
In fact, it was probably to be expected.
Why? Because only three weeks earlier, the UN adopted a Resolution which would refer the leaders of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights abuses.
According to the US State Department, these abuses include allegations of unlawful deprivation of life, torture, infanticide, starvation, as well as violations of the freedoms of conscience, expression, speech, assembly, association and press.
Additionally, according to the Open Doors' World Watch List, North Korea is the single worst persecutor of Christians in the world - and has been for the last 14 years in a row.
It is supposed that over 100,000 of North Korea's estimated 400,000 Christians are imprisoned on account of their faith. And, the others are not allowed to freely worship, or even mention or read from the Bible.
Indeed, because the alleged human rights abuses are so egregious, this is the second time the UN has boldly moved to refer North Korean leaders to the UN's International Criminal Court.
Naturally, the North Korean dictatorship was unhappy about the UN drawing attention to these crimes against humanity. And, one of its agents at the UN even went so far as to claim that the Resolution was politically motivated and "based upon all sorts of distortions and fabrications including sheer lies."
But, the Resolution isn't, in fact, based on distortions. These crimes are well-known, due to the bravery and courage of the many people who defect from North Korea every year (an estimated 28,000 defectors since the late 1990s). From their stories, we know that gross human rights abuses are continuing unabated, there.
So, the leadership of North Korea had to try to divert attention away from their terrible human rights record. And, of course, there's no better way to divert attention than to test a nuclear bomb!
Unfortunately, though, we have come to identify a pattern in North Korea's behaviour - they often do something outrageous to divert attention away from other bad behaviour. Very often, too, in the hopes that they will be rewarded.
Thankfully, in the aftermath of this latest nuclear test, the US House of Representatives have voted to sanction the leadership of North Korea - going after the personal assets and hard currency of the leaders of North Korea.
But, more is required.
Specifically, we suggest two other simple arrangements to help improve the conditions of those suffering abuse in North Korea, as well as to ease regional tensions:
1) Most importantly. Any easing of sanctions, as well as any continued, non-humanitarian aid or joint ventures with the other parties (e.g., special economic zones with China, Russia, and South Korea, involving special trading privileges/arrangements and, or, the improvement of infrastructure, etc.) must be contingent on measurable and verifiable IMPROVEMENT of North Korea's treatment of human rights; and, 2) The distribution of humanitarian aid must, henceforth, be monitored by a mutually-agreed-on third party, to ensure that the aid gets to its intended destination.
The bottom-line is that, from now on, North Korea must show improvement in the area of human rights, if it wishes to avail of the benefits of partnership with the other members of the Six-Party Talks.
The people of North Korea have suffered enough. Now, it's time for the people of the world to stand united with them, and against the brutal conditions which many of them face every day.
Thank you for signing this urgent petition. Thank you for standing with the people of North Korea.
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Send North Korean leaders a simple message: Easing of sanctions/aid must be tied to Human Rights IMPROVEMENT