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Date : October 8, 2015
ICNK Statement at the 70th Anniversary of the Korean Worker’s Party

For Immediate Release
ICNK Statement at the 70th Anniversary of the Korean Worker’s Party
(Seoul, October 9, 2015) -- The international community should demand that the North Korean government immediately end its pervasive abuses of human rights instead of lauding its ruling Korean Workers’ Party on the 70th anniversary of its founding, said the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), which comprises of 40 human rights groups worldwide.

“Given the decades of horrific rights abuses committed in the name of Korean Workers’ Party, this 70th anniversary should be mourned, not celebrated,” said Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary General at the ICNK’s secretariat.  “Pyongyang is not fooling anyone with its staged parades and its appeals to its people to work harder.” 

North Korea continues to systematically and pervasively violate human rights through public executions, torture, forced labor, sexual violence, food deprivation, incarceration in political prisoner camps (kwan-li-so), and the denial the freedom of __EXPRESSION__, thought and religious belief. 

A UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in North Korea issued a report in February 2014, that “found a disturbing array of crimes against humanity,” that “arise from policies established at the highest level of the State,” and the “gravity, scale, duration and nature of the unspeakable atrocities committed in the country…does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”.

North Korea should end its use of violent and abusive political prison camp systems and other forced labor camps. Based upon first hand testimonies collected by ICNK member organizations, hundreds of thousands of prisoners have died over the past decades because of inhuman conditions or summary executions. These compelling testimonies demonstrate the need for the North Korean government to end acts of torture in the country, and commit to a just arrest, judicial and detention process that is free from coercion, violence and torture. The North Korean government and its party members should recognize the rights of every North Korean individual to life, liberty, freedom of thought and __EXPRESSION__, equality and fair trial.    

The ICNK supports the creation of the new UN human rights office in Seoul to follow up the findings of the COI by conducting additional research on rights abuses in North Korea.  The UN Security Council should also take action before the end of the year to formally discuss North Korea’s human rights situation, and demanding Pyongyang take action to comply with the recommendations of the COI. 

“The international community should mark this 70th anniversary of the ruling party of North Korea with renewed calls for international accountability for those who have committed human rights crimes there,” said Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “The UN Security Council needs to put North Korea human rights on its urgent agenda this year and demand with one voice that North Korea comply with its international rights obligations.” 

ICNK also strongly urged the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party to take action to ensure an end to the government’s practice of compelling forced labor from both prisoners and ordinary citizens.   Although article 31 of North Korea’s constitution stipulates that child labour is prohibited, the practice continues unabated in the country.  The ICNK calls on North Korea to join the International Labor Organization (ILO), and comply with the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work which commits all members of the ILO to end forced and child labour.

The grim reality is the North Korea state, its agencies and its state enterprises employ an economic strategy based on systematically grabbing the benefits of forcing people to work for prolonged periods without remuneration, often in arduous or highly dangerous conditions,” said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. “There needs to be an end to the North Korean government’s used of forced labor wherever it occurs in the country.” 

For more information, please contact:

In Seoul: Eunkyoung Kwon, ICNK (English, Korean): +82-10-4508-8815, or kekyoung@gmail.com
In London: Benedict Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (English): +44-7919-030575; or ben@csw.org.uk 
In Bangkok: Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea is a joint effort of over 40 human rights groups worldwide that seeks to protect the human rights of North Koreans and to hold the Pyongyang government accountable for its abuses and violations of the human rights of the North Korean people.

Members and supporters of the Coalition include:
Advocates International Global Council
Asia Justice and Rights
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
Burma Partnership (Thailand)
Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
Conectas (Brazil)
Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
Freedom House (USA)
NK Watch (ROK)
Free North Korea Radio (ROK)
Han Voice (Canada)
HH Katacombs (ROK)
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea)(Japan)
Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea
Jubilee Campaign (USA)
Justice for North Korea (ROK)
Kontras (Indonesia)
Liberty in North Korea - LiNK (USA)
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
No Fence (Japan)
North Korea Freedom Coalition
Odhikar (Bangladesh)
Open North Korea (ROK)
People In Need (Czech Republic)
PSALT NK (Prayer Service Action Love Truth for North Korea)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (USA)
SARAM - Für Menschen in Nordkorea (Germany)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)
The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)
Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)
World Without Genocide (USA)
Young Defectors' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK)
Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)
Tomoharu Ebihara
David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and author of Hidden Gulag
Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders
Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defence Forum Foundation (USA)
Dr. Norbert Vollertsen

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