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Date : March 3, 2020
South Korea: Stand With North Korean Victims
   https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/03/south-korea-stand-north-korean-vic… [1641]

For Immediate Release 

South Korea: Stand With North Korean Victims

Coalition Urges President Moon to Toughen Position on Human Rights 

(Seoul, March 3, 2020) – The South Korean government should re-engage on promoting accountability for human rights abuses in North Korea, said a coalition of rights-oriented groups said today. 

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), joined by 68 other groups and 7 concerned individuals, sent a joint open letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in about the issue. Representing over 300 human rights groups and civil society, the letter urged the South Korean government to strengthen its pressure on North Korea to end abuses and to redouble efforts to seek justice for past crimes.

“President Moon Jae-in and his government should stop appeasing Kim Jong Un with the unfounded expectation that it will induce him to engage in dialogue,” said Eun-Kyoung Kwon, secretary general of ICNK. “Reducing the pressure on North Korea is a betrayal of the long-suffering North Korean people. The South Korean government needs to re-commit to promoting and protecting those most at risk in North Korea.” 

In November 2019, reversing over a decade of past practice, South Korea decided to withdraw from co-sponsoring a resolution in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) condemning the human rights situation in North Korea. The same month, the South Korean government decided to deport two North Korean fishermen accused of murder to face almost certain torture and possible death in North Korea. 

In light of the government’s disturbing actions, a coalition of 67 non-government organizations and 10 individuals wrote to President Moon in December, urging the government to clarify its position and take corrective action. The government has not responded.

“President Moon’s failure to confront ongoing North Korean government atrocities in the gulags, and daily abuses against the North Korean people is morally irresponsible and strategically unsound,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Weakening pressure on Kim Jong Un only rewards his bad behavior and fails to improve the dismal human rights conditions in North Korea.”

The coalition specifically urged the South Korean government to co-sponsor the UN Human Rights Council resolution on North Korea in March and to re-join the sponsors of the UN General Assembly resolution on North Korea in November.

“True peace on the Korean peninsula can only come when the basic human rights of the North Korean people are respected, so it can’t be in South Korea’s interest to ignore the terrible crimes against humanity the North Korean regime committed,” said Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader at CSW. “If he wants to achieve progress, President Moon should put North Korea’s human rights crisis at the center of his diplomatic agenda and restart his work with the international community to end impunity and protect human rights.”

For more information, please contact:

In Bangkok, for Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Twitter: @Reaproy 

In Seoul, Kwon Eun-Kyoung (Korean, English), secretary general, ICNK: +82.10.4508.8815; or kekyoung@bmail.com.  

In London, Ben Rogers (English), Asia team leader, CSW: +44.782.332.9664; or benrogers@csw.org.uk. 

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

COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea) (Japan)

Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)

Conectas (Brazil)

Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)

David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and author of Hidden Gulag

Free North Korea Radio (ROK) 

Freedom House (USA)

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)

Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea (Japan)

Jubilee Campaign (USA)

Justice for North Korea (ROK)

Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)

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)

NK Watch (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)

Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)

Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defence Forum Foundation (USA)

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)

The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)

Tomoharu Ebihara

Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders

World Without Genocide (USA)

Young Defectors' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK) 

Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)

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