Successful Conclusion of Campaign To Provide BBC World Service Transmissions to The Korean Peninsula. Also reports on human rights violations in North Korea

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea:

 

As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, I welcome today’s announcement by the BBC of a Korean-language World Service. The announcement follows many years of work by the APPG and others, and we congratulate the BBC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on making the correct decision for the people of North Korea.

This is a practical and overdue step in breaking the information blockade that engulfs North Korea – and fulfils our duties under Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights – to ensure unimpeded free access to information and news.

Whether in the dark days of Nazi occupied Europe or in remote parts of the world today, the BBC World Service has always provides access to truthful reporting and given people hope in times of oppression and despair. Mikael Gorbachev once said that even he relied on the BBC to learn what was really going on in the world while Aung San Suu Kyi said that the BBC World Service kept hope alive during her years of house arrest in Burma.

In July 2014, I initiated a wide-ranging House of Lords debate on the BBC World Service. In that speech, my colleague, Lord Eames, stated:

‘I visited North Korea…From a most unlikely source, there was a remark that will live with me for a very long time. Obviously, I cannot disclose the complete circumstances, but the words speak for themselves. “Where”, he said to me, “is the BBC?”. If you knew the person who said that, the circumstances and the position that he held, it would set the balance right of many of the impressions that we have of what is going on in North Korea. Those words speak louder than statistics, transmission problems and the facilities needed, and I convey them to the House with great feeling’.

North Korea is a country where access to foreign media is prohibited and accessing such media is punishable by barbaric sentences. Today, the BBC and the United Kingdom Government have taken a stand against the censorship and repression practiced by the North Korean Government. Free speech, objective news, and voices from the outside world will now travel from London to the darkest corners of North Korea.
Over the past decade, the APPG has listened to many calls from exiled North Koreans to send information to their compatriots north of the 38th parallel. This call has now been heard. A mistake which has often been made is to believe that to engage with North Koreans, one must deal with the North Korean Government. Our approach at the APPG has differed. We have instead listened to the knowledge and stories of the 30,000 North Koreans who have escaped their homeland. Some of these exiles have bravely addressed our group in Parliament and their stories have undoubtedly inspired today’s BBC service and will go on to challenge a sixty year old status-quo on the Korean peninsula.

The work of the APPG has long-established the increasing desire of North Koreans to know what is happening in the world outside. Escapees say that significant numbers risk imprisonment and even execution to consume foreign media. But try as they may, the North Korean Government has been unable to put the information genie back in the bottle.

In 2014, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Justice Michael Kirby, detailed ‘an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought’ as well as ‘the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association’ in North Korea. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists that citizens have a right to access news and information.

For the people of North Korea, I am pleased that breaking their information blockade and upholding their given rights is to become a central pillar of UK foreign policy and BBC practice. From the Soviet Union to Burma, the BBC has shown that broadcasting can inspire and broaden the horizons of the repressed.

Facing the challenge of North Korea is an urgent diplomatic and political problem, but it is also a moral obligation. A BBC World Service in the Korean-language should come as a sledgehammer to the North Korean Government’s information blockade and inspire those who will one day lead a new North Korea into the light.

Link: https://appgnk.org/2016/11/16/lord-alton-bbc-world-service-and-north-korea/

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November 2016:

  • NORTH KOREA: Over 75 percent of Christians persecuted in North Korea don’t survive their punishments
  • By Czarina Ong
  • Reports obtained from the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, a South Korean non-profit organisation, showed that over 65,000 people have already been persecuted for their faith in North Korea. From that number, close to 99 percent of the 11,370 defectors confirmed that there is absolutely no religious freedom under Kim Jong-un’s leadership.Meanwhile, the group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) released a report called “Total Denial: Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea” in September revealing that members of religious minorities suspected of state crimes are “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot.”“A policy of guilt by association applies, meaning that the relatives of Christians are also detained regardless of whether they share the Christian belief. Even North Koreans who have escaped to China, and who are or become Christians, are often repatriated and subsequently imprisoned in a political prison camp,” the CSW report stated.As a result, North Koreans don’t enjoy the freedom of expressing their religious beliefs. If they try to do so, they are subjected to discrimination, detention, and all sorts of inhumane treatment.
  • The report added that Kim Jong-un sees religious belief as a major threat to his leadership. Thus, he requires people to acknowledge him as their nation’s “supreme leader.”
  • As if the torture isn’t bad enough, the North Korean government even goes a step further by punishing the relatives of these Christians and members of other religious groups.
  • What’s worse, over 75 percent of Christians persecuted from their faith do not survive their punishments, The Christian Post reported. This is why only 1.2 percent of the defectors engaged in secret religious activities while they were still in North Korea.
  • Christian Today (12.11.2016) – http://bit.ly/2fBKxDq – Christians don’t fare very well in North Korea. Human rights groups are giving grim reports on the treatment of religious minorities in the East Asian country, saying that over 75 percent of those who are subjected to torture, imprisonment and all sorts of punishment do not live to tell their tales.
  • Posted In Freedom of Religion and Belief
  • ———————————————————————-

Chilling testimony of the evils of North Korea’s regime

Also see the web site of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea:

http://appgnk.org/

New report launched at Westminster on the lack of religious freedom in North Korea:

Read the full report and executive summary at:

https://freedomdeclared.org/news/appgs-report-persecution-north-korea-published/

Human rights 4

On 10 December – international human rights day – the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG) published the findings of its Parliamentary Inquiry into persecution in North Korea. The report, Religion and Belief in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, includes witness accounts of the horrific human rights abuses suffered by religious and belief minorities in the country, which often go unheard because of the secrecy of the regime.
It concludes: “The DPRK systematically oppresses freedom of religion or belief, and Christians in particular are targeted by the regime and subjected to chronic human rights abuses, amounting to crimes against humanity.”

The report makes a number of recommendations to the British Government, including that it continue pursuing the referral of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea to the International Criminal Court to account for its treatment of its citizens.

It also recommends that the UK invest in long-term strategic engagement with North Korea. Some of the practical suggestions include: educational exchanges, investing in the 30,000 North Korean people who have managed to escape, breaking the information blockade, critical engagement on human rights and the re-instigation of the ‘Six Party Talks’. Further, it urges the BBC World Service to establish a radio broadcast to the Korean Peninsula, in both English and Korean languages, giving citizens a window out of their closed world.

The report was launched at a meeting chaired by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on North Korea. Those present heard of routine, horrific suffering at the hands of the DPRK state, with the Rev. Stuart Windsor, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, sharing that “Between 1997 and 2007 an estimated one million North Koreans died or were killed in prison while the West has been silent”. The meeting also heard of the ingrained suspicion of religion from Kim, Joo-il, who told how “In North Korea, anti-religious education starts at six-seven years – people are taught to antagonise religion”. While Zoe Smith, of Open Doors UK & Ireland, highlighted a strong message of the APPG’s report, that the current situation in the DPRK “needs the ‘world citizen’ to step up to the table and say ‘enough’s enough’. Change is needed.”

Baroness Berridge, chairman of the APPG, commented: “For the past sixty-plus years, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea has committed egregious human rights violations – the details of which would turn the stomach of even the most hardened person.

This includes banishing those who follow a religion to remote places, incarcerating them, subjecting them to torture in labour camps, and murdering Christians for merely possessing a Bible…For many years North Korea has been viewed as an impossible case, but now the international community is finally beginning to afford the country the attention its people so desperately need.”

Lord Alton, chairman of the APPG on North Korea and Vice-chair of the APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief, highlighted that “Christmas spent in a North Korean gulag will be just another day of grotesque suffering”, concluding that “We who enjoy political and religious freedom; free to practice our faith; free to celebrate Christmas with our loved ones, must speak out and take practical actions to help bring the long winter of oppression to an end. This Report should be essential Christmas reading for Governments, MPs, and policy makers”.

December 11th – Evidence Given at Westminster on the Plight of Disabled People in north Korea: Testimony of a Disabled North Korean Escapee

Ji-Seong-Ho-a-former-North-Korean-defector

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11288881/British-Government-duped-into-funding-North-Korean-athletes-at-London-2012-Paralympics.html


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11286517/North-Korea-leaves-disabled-to-die.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/north-korea-castrates-dwarfs-makes-4790278

Also visit the web site of the All Party Parliamentary group on North Korea: http://appgnk.org/

The unprecedented publication of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report calling for the prosecution of North Korea’s leaders for crimes against humanity.

The unprecedented publication of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report calling for the prosecution of North Korea’s leaders for crimes against humanity.

400,000 are estimated to have died in North Korea's camps over the past 30 years.

400,000 are estimated to have died in North Korea’s camps over the past 30 years.

A United Nations Commission of Inquiry has called for the leaders of North Korea to be
prosecuted at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Lord Alton of Liverpool has
chaired a parliamentary committee on North Korea for 10 years. The COI report
underlines and corroborates the witness statements about unspeakable cruelty that Lord
Alton’s committee has heard. This report may be the catalyst for global action to force
change in North Korea.
His reaction follows details of two forthcoming meetings at Westminster, where you can learn more:
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Tuesday 4th March 4-5pm Committee Room 15 (note change from CR 18)
APPG North Korea and Open Doors

Fiona Bruce MP is a Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea

Fiona Bruce MP is a Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea

A briefing on Christians in North Korea, chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, with speakers including a survivor of a North Korean prison camp and a field expert on North Korea. It is very timely to draw attention to North Korea following the publication of the UN’s first ever report on human rights abuses in North Korea.

Please RSVP to

advocacy@opendoorsuk.org or for further enquires please call 01993 777300

Then on Tuesday 11 March at 5.30pm in Committee Room 4A.

Following the publication this week of the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea will hold a discussion focused on the way forward, chaired by Lord Alton of Liverpool.

The speakers will include:∙

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, former chief prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic;∙

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC will be among the speakers

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC will be among the speakers

Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch;∙

Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and a co-founder of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK)

There will also be a screening of a new film on North Korea produced by Human Rights Watch.

Please come, and invite others. Both meetings are open to the public

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North Korea and the United Nations Commission of Inquiry

Two recent events, inextricably linked, are harbingers of significant change in North Korea, and they pose significant questions to the international community about how best to respond.

First, in December last, came the execution of Chang Song-thaek, the uncle of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

Chang’s death was both a sign of Kim Jong-un’s ruthlessness but also a sign of weakness and fear.

Chang’s death was both a sign of Kim Jong-un’s ruthlessness but also a sign of weakness and fear.

Chang’s death was both a sign of Kim Jong-un’s ruthlessness but also a sign of weakness and fear.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

Chang Song-thaek had to be killed because he had questioned an ideology which has paralysed economic development, incarcerated hundreds of thousands of its citizens, and which has conferred pariah status on the country. His execution became the most high profile of a succession of killings, symptomatic of a system which routinely murders and imprisons its own people, and which subjugates them through indoctrination and propaganda.

One million men under arms. Military expenditure could be used for development and for feeding a malnourished people.

One million men under arms. Military expenditure could be used for development and for feeding a malnourished people.

Now, two months later comes the unprecedented publication of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report calling for the prosecution of North Korea’s leaders for crimes against humanity.

After a year collecting evidence from North Korean escapees, the COI compared the country’s egregious violations of human rights with those of the totalitarian regimes of the 1930s and has called for their referral to the International Criminal Court. Despite their angry protestations, the leadership should be fearfully reflecting that, as at Nuremberg and at the Hague, a day of reckoning may one day come.

The ICC - Despite angry protestations, the leadership should be fearfully reflecting that, as at Nuremberg and at the Hague, a day of reckoning may one day come.

The ICC – Despite angry protestations, the leadership should be fearfully reflecting that, as at Nuremberg and at the Hague, a day of reckoning may one day come.

Unlike their former allies in Burma – who have also faced allegations of crimes against humanity but have begun to alter course – the North Korean regime has eschewed the path of reform, staking their future on the world’s indifference. It is a huge miscalculation.

Mr. Justice Kirby, the highly respected Australian Judge, who chaired the Commission, and his fellow Commissioners, say in their 400-page report that North Korea’s crimes against humanity are sui generis: “the gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”

Judge Michael Kirby

Judge Michael Kirby

They detail what they describe as “unspeakable atrocities” and spell out their scope in graphic detail:

“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

Judge Kirby has drawn parallels with Auschwitz, with Hitler and with Stalin and says that the country’s leadership and the system which it sustains – “policies established at the highest level of State” – must be held to account and brought to justice.

Judge Kirby has drawn parallels with Auschwitz, with Hitler and with Stalin and says that the country’s leadership and the system which it sustains - “policies established at the highest level of State” – must be held to account and brought to justice.

Judge Kirby has drawn parallels with Auschwitz, with Hitler and with Stalin and says that the country’s leadership and the system which it sustains – “policies established at the highest level of State” – must be held to account and brought to justice.

Chang Song-thaek high profile execution is certainly redolent of the period to which Michael Kirby alludes.

Chang was seen as a potential alternative. He had been the power behind the throne and was close to China and admiring of its reform programme. China’s anger at his killing sits alongside their barely concealed contempt for an “ally” which routinely aborts North Korean babies, fathered by Chinese men, who are regarded as a contamination of Korean blood line.

Chang’s execution – some unsubstantiated reports in China allege that he was thrown to the dogs ; the purges; the reign of terror; the falsifying of history; the show trials; the network of gulags which incarcerate between 200,000 and 300,000 people; the estimated 400,000 people who have died in the prison camps in the last 30 years; and the attempt to obliterate religious belief and all political dissent; all bear all the hallmarks of a regime which has carefully studied, admires and imitates the visceral brutality of Joseph Stalin.

North Korea's Gulags

North Korea’s Gulags

Not for nothing, on a visit to North Korea, was I shown the bullet proof railway carriage which Stalin gave as a gift to Kim Il Sung.

But the regime has more recent heroes and I was also shown the gifts of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu. My guide seemed blissfully unaware of the fate of the Ceaușescus, asking me “are they unwell?” when I asked her if she knew what had happened to them.

My guide seemed blissfully unaware of the fate of the Ceaușescus, asking me “are they unwell?” when I asked her if she knew what had happened to them.

My guide seemed blissfully unaware of the fate of the Ceaușescus, asking me “are they unwell?” when I asked her if she knew what had happened to them.

Unlike the North Korean public – sadly denied access to BBC World Service broadcasts, as they do not broadcast to the Korean Peninsula – the whole world knows what happened to the Ceaușescus. Thanks to the COI, the free world can no longer claim that it had no idea of what happens inside North Korea or the scale of the depredations in North Korea.

One of the relatively new factors which has made possible the COI’s report are the first-hand witness statement s to which the Commission has had access.

  One of the relatively new factors which has made possible the COI’s report are the first-hand witness statement s to which the Commission has had access.

One of the relatively new factors which has made possible the COI’s report are the first-hand witness statement s to which the Commission has had access.

Just as North Korea can no longer completely keep out information and contact from beyond its borders, so the presence of around 30,000 North Koreans living in democratic countries has been a game-changer. The first-hand evidence of escapees has opened the eyes of the world and aroused the anger of many who were previously disinterested.

The first-hand evidence of escapees has opened the eyes of the world and aroused the anger of many who were  previously disinterested.

The first-hand evidence of escapees has opened the eyes of the world and aroused the anger of many who were previously disinterested.

It is now ten years since I urged the British Parliament to highlight human rights violations in North Korea with the same emphasis we place on security issues. Perhaps the COI report will finally make this happen.

As the world discovered during the Helsinki Process, after the West and the Soviet Bloc had reached a military stalemate, human rights engagement (at a number of different levels) tipped the scales and brought fundamental change.

The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 linked foreign policy to basic human rights principles. A firm stand on human rights, linked to a strong non-appeasement military policy, is the catalyst for change. That is why I have argued for Helsinki with a Korean face, and why I strongly welcome the COI’s report.

We should enter negotiations which guarantee human rights, such as free exchange of people and religious liberties ... By linking the present crisis with the human rights violations, a crisis can be turned into an opportunity. To do nothing about North Korea would be the most dangerous option of all.”

We should enter negotiations which guarantee human rights, such as free exchange of people and religious liberties … By linking the present crisis with the human rights violations, a crisis can be turned into an opportunity. To do nothing about North Korea would be the most dangerous option of all.”

Ten years ago I told the House of Lords that:

“By championing the cause of those who are suffering in North Korea, the international community will create the conditions for the establishment of democracy ….Learning the lessons of [the] Helsinki [process], we must do nothing to licence the regime in Pyongyang to commit further atrocities against its own people. We should enter negotiations which guarantee human rights, such as free exchange of people and religious liberties … By linking the present crisis with the human rights violations, a crisis can be turned into an opportunity. To do nothing about North Korea would be the most dangerous option of all.”

During the intervening decade I have chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea and have often felt frustrated that we have pursued that dangerous option of doing nothing at all. As Judge Kirby discovered once confronted by the personal accounts of those who have suffered at the regime’s hands doing nothing cannot be an option.

North Korean Poet, Mr.Jang, has broadcast on BBC World Service - which cannot be heard on the Korean peninsula.

North Korean Poet, Mr.Jang, has broadcast on BBC World Service – which cannot be heard on the Korean peninsula.

Part Two of the COI report relies heavily on personal stories. It cites evidence given by individual victims and witnesses, including the harrowing treatment meted out to political prisoners, some of whom said they would catch snakes and mice to feed malnourished babies. Others told of watching family members being murdered in prison camps, and of defenceless inmates being used for martial arts practice.

This is of a piece with the accounts which my Committee has been given.

It is more than ten years since I met Yoo Sang-joon. Yoo’s story was particularly harrowing and disturbing. He told me how he had seen his wife, and all bar one of his children shot dead. He subsequently escaped across the border to China with his one remaining son. The boy died en route.

The bravery of Yoo Sang-joon

The bravery of Yoo Sang-joon

Yoo Sang-joon himself became an Asian Raoul Wallenberg – the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. Yoo Sang-joon bravely re-entered North Korea and has helped many people flee across the border. This led to his arrest in China in 2007, but, on compassionate grounds, China relented, allowing him to be repatriated to Seoul knowing that in the North he would be executed.

My Committee heard the story of Lee Keumsoon. Her death camp supervisors stripped off Lee’s clothes to establish whether she was pregnant. Like others who have become pregnant in China she was forcibly aborted.

The dignity, integrity and bearing of the women and men who have suffered so much is striking.

  Shin Dong Hyok told my Parliamentary Committee that as a child, he witnessed fellow child prisoners being killed through accidents and beatings. He saw his mother and brother executed in Camp 14.

Shin Dong Hyok told my Parliamentary Committee that as a child, he witnessed fellow child prisoners being killed through accidents and beatings. He saw his mother and brother executed in Camp 14.

None more so that Shin Dong-Hyok, whose story is movingly told by Blaine Harden in “Escape from Camp 14”, extracts of which were serialised in 2012 by BBC Radio Four. I have now met Shin several times. It would be impossible not to be deeply affected by both his story and by his demeanour. Despite everything that has been done to him and his family he still loves his country and wants the best for North Korea and its people.

Shin is nearly thirty and spent the first 23 years of his life in North Korea’s Political prison Camp 14, where he was born. Camp 14 is one of five sprawling prison camps in the mountains of North Korea, about fifty five miles north of Pyongyang. No one born in Camp 14 or any other political prison camp – “the absolute control zone” – had previously escaped from North Korea. These are places where the hard labour, the malnutrition, or freezing conditions, minus 20 Celsius in winter, will often get you before the firing squad.

Shin told my Parliamentary Committee that as a child, he witnessed fellow child prisoners being killed through accidents and beatings. He told me that children and parents were required to watch and report on one another. He was forced to work from the age of 10 or 11.

His parents were sent to the camp in 1965 as political prisoners. Thirty years later, after family members tried to escape from the camp, Shin was interrogated in an underground torture chamber.

Following this failed escape attempt, he was forced, on April 6th 1996, to watch as his mother and brother were publicly executed – common in the camps.

Guards bound the hands and feet of the 13-year-old boy and roasted him over a fire. The burns still scar Shin’s back, the memories have indelibly scarred his mind; and he remains haunted by the double life he was forced to lead and the lies he had to tell to survive.

In 2005, having been tortured, mistreated and discriminated against as the son and brother of a declared traitor – and suffering from constant hunger – Shin and a compatriot tried to escape.
His friend died on the barbed wire – not realising that it carried a high electric current – but, although he was badly burnt, Shin literally climbed over the corpse of his friend and for 25 days he secretly travelled towards the Yalu River and over the border into China.

In Shanghai he found a way over the wall of the South Korean Consulate and, after 6 months there, he was allowed to travel to Seoul. Physically and emotionally Shin was deeply scarred.
NKShin
Shin Dong Hyok: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/un-witness-describes-horrors-of-north-korea/
and also scroll down to watch “Becoming Human: Shin’s New Life” halfway down.

Shin was joined at our Parliamentary Hearing by Ahn Myeong-Cheol, aged 37, who worked as a prison guard at four political prison camps – also within the “absolute control zone” between 1987 and 1994.

He described how his father killed himself when he realised that he had been heard criticising the regime; his mother and brothers were sent to prison camps; Ahn was re-educated and became a prison guard in the “absolute control zones.

Vividly and harrowingly he described how he witnessed guard dogs imported from Russia tear three children to pieces and how the camp warden congratulated the guard who had trained the dogs; he said that even when prisoners died they are punished- their corpses and remains simply left to disintegrate and rot away on the open ground.

Particularly harrowing was the evidence given by two diminutive North Korean women who, speaking through an interpreter, recounted their experiences. From time to time their stories were interrupted as the women wept.

One escapee told parliamentarians: “I couldn’t bear to die with my children in my arms. As long as I was alive I couldn’t just watch them die.”

One escapee told parliamentarians: “I couldn’t bear to die with my children in my arms. As long as I was alive I couldn’t just watch them die.”

Jeon Young-Ok is 40. When she was a little girl her mother took the family across the Tumen River to try and flee to China. They were caught and her father and brother imprisoned. Her mother died of a heart disease and left her three children alone. Years later, now married with three children of her own, Jeon managed to make furtive forays from North Korea into China to secure money and food for her children. Twice she was apprehended and jailed.

Movingly she told the parliamentary hearing: “I couldn’t bear to die with my children in my arms. As long as I was alive I couldn’t just watch them die.” This was an allusion to the starvation of the 1990s when anything from 1 to 2 million North Koreans starved to death.

In China Mrs.Jeon remained at risk “nowhere was safe.” If she was caught the Chinese would send her back. And this is exactly what happened to her. Caught in 1997 and again in 2001 – she was sent to Northern Pyeong-an Detention Camp.

“I was put in a camp where I saw and experienced unimaginable things. We were made to pull the beards from the faces of elderly people. Prison guards treated them like animals. The women were forced to strip. A group of us were thrown just one blanket and we were forced to pull it from one another as we tried to hide our shame. I felt like an animal, no better than a pig. I didn’t want to live.”

“I felt like an animal, no better than a pig. I didn’t want to live.”

Jeon Young-Ok added: “They tortured the Christians the most. They were denied food and sleep. They were forced to stick out their tongues and iron was pushed into it.”

“They tortured the Christians the most. They were denied food and sleep. They were forced to stick out their tongues and iron was pushed into it.

“They tortured the Christians the most. They were denied food and sleep. They were forced to stick out their tongues and iron was pushed into it.”

Despite all this, she harbours no hatred for her country and shows extraordinary fortitude and equanimity: “The past is not important but these terrible things are still happening in North Korea. These camps should be abolished forever.”

In 2011 Mrs Kim Hye Sook gave evidence to my committee and described a normal working day in “Camp 18″. She recounted the manual labour undertaken by prisoners and scarcity of food provisions and the regular public executions and cannibalism which she saw over her 27 years imprisonment during which she saw the death of her son in the camp.

Here are the stories of religious persecution, the lack of freedom of movement, the lack of labour rights, the non-implementation of legal codes, the lack of a fair trial, the lack of judicial oversight of detention facilities and the severe mistreatment of repatriated persons- mainly repatriated from China.

Park Ji says she was sold to a Chinese farmer. Any woman who becomes pregnant and is carrying a child with a Chinese father will be forcibly aborted so as not to

Park Ji says she was sold to a Chinese farmer. Any woman who becomes pregnant and is carrying a child with a Chinese father will be forcibly aborted so as not to “pollute the blood line.”

Throughout the hearings which I have chaired I have been struck by the consistent picture which has emerged of appalling violence against women in detention facilities and the chilling accounts of life in prisons and labour camps. The individual stories bring home the enormity of the suffering that lies behind individual statistics. The COI report brings many of these dark stories into the light.

Professor Muntarbhorn described North Korea’s human rights record as “abysmal” due to “the repressive nature of the power base: at once cloistered, controlled and callous.” The exploitation of ordinary people, he said, “has become the pernicious prerogative of the ruling elite”.

Professor Muntarbhorn described North Korea’s human rights record as “abysmal” due to “the repressive nature of the power base: at once cloistered, controlled and callous.” The exploitation of ordinary people, he said, “has become the pernicious prerogative of the ruling elite”.

My Committee also took evidence from Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, the previous United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea. Like his successor, Indonesia’s former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman and, like the COI, they were refused all access to North Korea. It is often said that the North Korean regime has managed to exist behind a wall of secrecy; that it treats the international community with contempt by refusing to allow outside observers into the country

Professor Muntarbhorn described North Korea’s human rights record as “abysmal” due to “the repressive nature of the power base: at once cloistered, controlled and callous.” The exploitation of ordinary people, he said, “has become the pernicious prerogative of the ruling elite”.

All eight of Muntarbhorn’s reports to the UN detailed an extraordinarily grave situation, in which he says the abuses are “both systematic and pervasive” and “egregious and endemic”, and he has concluded that “it is incumbent upon the national authorities and the international community to address the impunity factor which has enabled such violations to exist and/or persist for a long time.”

The COI  comments in its conclusions that “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. This raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community” and it trenchantly tells the international community that it “must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the DPRK has manifestly failed to do so.”

The COI comments in its conclusions that “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. This raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community” and it trenchantly tells the international community that it “must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the DPRK has manifestly failed to do so.”

Little wonder the COI comments in its conclusions that “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. This raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community” and it trenchantly tells the international community that it “must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the DPRK has manifestly failed to do so.”

If we are to accept the responsibility which the COI places upon us, the Korean Diaspora (which includes 3-4 million Korean Americans) must take a more prominent role. Just as the Jewish community galvanised international opinion about life in the Soviet Gulags, the Korean Diaspora needs to catch our collective imagination and create a worldwide movement for change.

Alexander Solzhynytsyn.Solzhenitsyn remarked that “someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free”

Alexander Solzhynytsyn.Solzhenitsyn remarked that “someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free”

In thinking about the harrowing accounts in the COI report it is hard not to be reminded of life in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago – the archipelago of labour camps and prison camps spread across the USSR – which were known only to those who were unfortunate enough to enter them.

Solzhenitsyn remarked that “someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free” and that is undoubtedly the case with those who have bravely risked so much in telling their stories to the UN Commission of Inquiry.

As it comes to consider the COI report, the question for the United Nations Security Council – and perhaps especially for China – is whether it will continue to be the silent witness to evil deeds. Before deliberating it should re-read the 1948 Universal declaration of Human Rights. It would find that in North Korea is in breach of virtually every one of its articles.

Whether, by referring the findings to the International Criminal Court, sequestrating assets, setting up reparation funds, using economic leverage, and doing all it can to break the information blockade into the country, it deserves to be held in universal contempt if it now fails to show the necessary resolve to act on the findings of its own Commission of Inquiry .

NK Human Rights are Not Optional

The United Nations deserves to be held in universal contempt if it now fails to show the necessary resolve to act on the findings of its own Commission of Inquiry .

The United Nations deserves to be held in universal contempt if it now fails to show the necessary resolve to act on the findings of its own Commission of Inquiry .

——————————————————————————————————

Also see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA0ObXx60Ng&feature=youtu.be

http://amnesty.org/en/news/north-korea-un-security-council-must-act-crimes-against-humanity-2014-02-17

http://www.hrw.org/node/123287

For Immediate Release
***To view video feature and download raw footage:
http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/gixryujock

North Korea: UN Should Act on Atrocities Report
New Video Shows Horrors of North Korea Through Eyewitness Testimony

(Geneva, February 17, 2014) – A new United Nations report has found that crimes against humanity are occurring in North Korea and calls for an international tribunal to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, Human Rights Watch said today.

The report, by a UN Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013, recommends that the UN Security Council refer the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights carry out investigations. The three person commission, which was chaired by Australian jurist Michael Kirby, will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council on or around March 17, 2014. The council will then consider a resolution to act on the commission’s recommendations.

“This shocking report should open the eyes of the UN Security Council to the atrocities that plague the people of North Korea and threaten stability in the region,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “By focusing only on the nuclear threat in North Korea, the Security Council is overlooking the crimes of North Korean leaders who have overseen a brutal system of gulags, public executions, disappearances, and mass starvation.”

The commission’s report finds that crimes against humanity were committed in North Korea over a multi-decade period “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State,” and included “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, forcible transfer of persons, enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” The report notes in particular “a systematic and widespread attack against all populations that are considered to pose a threat to the political system and leadership.”

New video features eyewitness accounts of atrocities

To coincide with the release of the commission’s report, Human Rights Watch today released a video, “North Korea: Tales from Camp Survivors,” with interviews of North Koreans who survived years of abuse while incarcerated in political prison camps (kwanliso), including systematic use of beatings, food deprivation and starvation, and public executions, to control those held there. The film includes interviews with former camp guards detailing camp administration and atrocities. Regarding these types of camps, the commission found: “The unspeakable atrocities that are being committed against inmates of the kwanliso political prison camps resemble the horrors of camps that totalitarian states established during the 20th century.”

The commission’s report also finds that crimes against humanity were committed “against starving populations” in the context of mass famines in the 1990s, through “decisions and policies taken for the purposes of sustaining the present political system, in full awareness that such decisions would exacerbate starvation and related deaths amongst much of the population.” In addition, the report finds that a widespread campaign of abductions of South Korean and Japanese citizens by North Korean agents, primarily during the 1970s and early 1980s, constitutes crimes against humanity.

“The devastating findings of this inquiry should not be ignored,” Roth said. “Since the crimes were perpetrated by state actors, only an international tribunal can properly carry out criminal investigations aimed at holding perpetrators accountable.”

Human Rights Watch urged the Human Rights Council to endorse the commission’s recommendations by adopting a strong resolution on North Korea during its March session, and task the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with transmitting the report directly to the UN Security Council and General Assembly for action.

The report concludes that information it collected constitutes “reasonable grounds. . .to merit a criminal investigation by a competent national or international organ of justice,” which could include the ICC, or an ad hoc tribunal created by the UN Security Council or by the consent of UN member states.

Besides referring North Korea to the ICC, the report notes that the UN Security Council has the power to set up a special tribunal for North Korea. This would be an appropriate step since many of the crimes documented by the commission occurred before 2002, when the ICC statute came into force, Human Rights Watch said. Tribunals created with UN Security Council resolutions have been set up for crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Independent of the Security Council, the report notes that the UN General Assembly could pass a resolution aimed at establishing an ad hoc tribunal operated by a set of willing countries. Such a tribunal, set up by UN member states without Security Council authorization, would lack compulsory power under the UN Charter but could carry out many of the same functions as a Security Council-authorized tribunal.

Human Rights Watch urged Security Council members to immediately invite the Commission of Inquiry to brief them on their findings, and called on other countries to support efforts to achieve accountability for crimes committed in North Korea.

“The UN was set up in the aftermath of the Second World War precisely to address this kind of massive abuse,” Roth said. “The atrocities described in this report are a profound challenge to the founding ideals of the UN and should shock the organization into bold action. The suffering and loss endured by victims demand swift and definitive action aimed at bringing those responsible to justice.”

For Selected accounts from the UN report, please see below.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on North Korea, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/nkorea

For more information, please contact:

In Geneva, Juliette de Rivero (English, French, Spanish): +41-79-640-1649 (mobile); or derivej@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @juliederivero

In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-7908-728-333 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @BradAdamsHRW

In Boston, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +1-617-698-1230 or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy

In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @johnsifton

In Tokyo, Kanae Doi (English, Japanese): +81-3-5575-3774; or +81-90-2301-4372 (mobile); or doik@hrw.org

In Brussels, Lotte Leicht (French, German, Danish, English): +32-0273-714-82; or +32-475-681-708 (mobile); or leichtl@hrw.org

Selected accounts from the UN Commission of Inquiry Report

A former guard in a prison for political prisoners told the commission: “Inmates in the [political prison camps] are not treated like human beings. They are never meant to be released […] their record is permanently erased. They are supposed to die in the camp from hard labour. And we were trained to think that those inmates are enemies. So we didn’t perceive them as human beings.”

One prisoner told the commission that he was forced to dispose of over 300 bodies during his 10 years in a camp at Yodok, and described how camp authorities once bulldozed a hill that had been used to bury dead prisoners, to turn it into a corn field: “As the machines tore up the soil, scraps of human flesh reemerged from the final resting place; arms and legs and feet, some still some still stockinged, rolled in waves before the bulldozer. I was terrified. One of friends vomited. …. The guards then hollowed out a ditch and ordered a few detainees to toss in all the corpses and body parts that were visible on the surface.”

The commission found that political prison camp prisoners, which included children and even babies born to prisoners, were only be able to survive “by hunting and gathering insects, rodents and wild plants or finding ways to divert food meant for the guards and farm animals.” One prisoner, describing the effects of the deprivation of food, said: “[The] babies [had] bloated stomachs. [We] cooked snakes and mice to feed these babies and if there was a day that we were able to have a mouse, this was a special diet for us. We had to eat everything alive, every type of meat that we could find; anything that flew, that crawled on the ground. Any grass that grew in the field, we had to eat. That’s the reality of the prison camp.”

A witness, describing what the commission found to be deliberate famine in the 1990s, stated: “We would eat tree bark, and we would get the roots of the cabbage under the ground, but that was just not enough. As time passed, our grandmother and other weak people were just not able to move at all.”

Another said: “So many people died that we didn’t have enough coffins so we borrowed [traditional burial boards] to give them burials. We didn’t have any wood to even give tombstones. That’s how many people died.”

——————————————————————————————————
Calls in Parliament for BBC World Service Transmissions to the Korea Peninsula

Calls in Parliament for the BBC World Service to transmit to the Korean Pensinsula

Calls in Parliament for the BBC World Service to transmit to the Korean Pensinsula


BBC World Service
Questions
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, before handing over to the BBC control of decisions involving future BBC World Service transmissions, they undertook any research into the benefit of broadcasting to all 75 million people on the Korean peninsula and the Korean-speaking Chinese province of Jilin; what is their response to internal research by the BBC that “The more business leaders know and consume the BBC, the more likely they are to trade with the UK”; and whether they will ask the BBC to evaluate the additional trade the United Kingdom would gain from a new service.[HL6002]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): There has been and will be no change to the decision making process on BBC World Service language services as a result of the 1 April 2014 transfer to Licence Fee funding. As I said in my 12 March answer (Official Report, 12 March 2014, column 1753), the BBC World Service is editorially, managerially and operationally independent. It is therefore for the World Service, not for the Government, to look into possible benefits of broadcasting to any particular region or in any particular language, and to make proposals on that basis.
When, on 1 April, the World Service moves to Licence Fee funding, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), will continue to approve the opening and closing of the World

25 Mar 2014 : Column WA93

Service’s language services, as he does at present, based on recommendations put to him by the World Service.
The BBC World Service reviewed options for establishment of a Korean language service in late 2013, concluding, as a result of questions of likely audience reach, cost and technical feasibility, that establishment of a Korean language service was not appropriate at this stage.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply by the Deputy Prime Minister on 12 March (HC Deb, cols 315–6) concerning proposals to initiate BBC World Service transmissions to the Korean peninsula, and his remark that “I understand that at the end of last year it (the BBC) decided, following a review, that it could not continue to offer an effective and affordable Korean language service”, what Korean language service had previously been offered to the Korean people; for how long it had made such transmissions; what it cost; and what savings were made following the review. [HL6003]
Baroness Warsi:I would like to clarify the answer given by the Deputy Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Hallam (Mr Clegg) (HC Deb, cols 315–6) concerning proposals to initiate BBC World Service transmissions to the Korean peninsula and his remarks on a review of that. The Review carried out in 2013 was into the viability of a BBC World Service Korean language service. There has not previously been a Korean language service offered by the BBC World Service, so the question of savings from its discontinuation has never arisen.

BBC World Service
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply by the Deputy Prime Minister on 12 March (HC Deb, cols 315–6) concerning proposals to initiate BBC World Service transmissions to the Korean peninsula, whether the approval of “new services” remains the prerogative of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.[HL6004]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): As stated in my response to an oral question on 12 March, Official report, column 1753, the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), will continue to approve the opening and closing of the World Service language services, as he does at present, based on recommendations put to him by the World Service.

BBC World Service
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will reconsider their decision not to ask the BBC to transmit the World Service to the Korean Peninsula if the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recommends that they meet their obligations under Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in respect of the broadcast of news and commentary about human rights and democracy to people trapped by an information blockade. [HL4977]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Broadcasting Corporation World Service (BBC WS) is editorially, managerially and operationally independent of Government, so decisions on which new language services they wish to introduce are for them to consider and, if appropriate, to put to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague). As the noble Lord is aware the BBC WS recently reviewed the options for the introduction of a Korean language service and concluded, for a number of reasons, that they could not offer a meaningful, impactful and cost effective service.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea is due to report to the Human Rights Council in March 2014. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the content of the report before it has been published and until we have had the opportunity to consider its findings and recommendations in full.
BBC World Service
Question
3.06 pm
12 Mar 2014 : Column 1754
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, did the Minister see the comments in yesterday’s edition of the Independent by Justice Michael Kirby, who chaired the recent commission of inquiry established by the United Nations to investigate human rights abuses in North Korea? He said that the extension of BBC World Service transmissions to North Korea—
“a country that has been largely cut off from the rest of the world”—
would make a considerable difference in fighting against those abuses of human rights. Given our Article 19 obligations and the BBC’s historic role in promoting democratic values above the heads of dictators, is this not a moment for the Government to urge the BBC World Service to play its part?
Baroness Warsi: The noble Lord has asked me this question on a number of occasions; indeed I have answered it here from the Dispatch Box and also written to him. As he and other noble Lords may be aware, in 2013 the World Service reviewed the possible options for a Korean language service and concluded after a fact-finding mission that questions of likely audience reach, cost and technical feasibility meant that such a service was not appropriate at this stage. I am aware of the UN commissioner’s report. The noble Lord will be aware that that contained two quite specific approaches to how engagement could happen: the first was through the broadcasting route and the second through encouraging people-to-people contact. We are one of the few countries that has extensive people-to-people contract because of our embassy in North Korea. The UN report also recognised that that is one of the ways in which we can engage in dialogue.

Q9. [902972] Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): On Monday, South Korean newspapers said that North Korea was due to execute 33 people for having had contact with a Christian missionary. Given that a quarter of a million people are in North Korean prison camps, will the Deputy Prime Minister urge the BBC World Service to use its existing transmitters to broadcast into North Korea, especially as more and more North Koreans now have access to radios?
The Deputy Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue. As he knows, our embassy in Pyongyang continues to engage critically with the
12 Mar 2014 : Column 316
North Korean regime and tries to ensure that there are as many opportunities for dialogue as possible, including information coming into the country. The BBC World Service is of course operationally, editorially and managerially independent. I understand that at the end of last year it decided, following a review, that it could not continue to offer an effective and affordable Korean language service. That is of course a matter for the BBC World Service itself.

Subject: Independent today: BBC World Service – Mr. Justice Kirby intervenes

To view the Video launched at the APPG on North Korea on March 11th 2014 – what BBC World Service Korea might look like – logon as follows:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywDAUhb7POA&feature=youtu.be

Also see:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bbc-can-make-a-difference-in-north-korea–by-broadcasting-world-service-programmes-in-korean-9182594.html

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, did the Minister see the comments in yesterday’s edition of the Independent by Justice Michael Kirby, who chaired the recent commission of inquiry established by the United Nations to investigate human rights abuses in North Korea? He said that the extension of BBC World Service transmissions to North Korea— “a country that has been largely cut off from the rest of the world”— would make a considerable difference in fighting against those abuses of human rights. Given our Article 19 obligations and the BBC’s historic role in promoting democratic values above the heads of dictators, is this not a moment for the Government to urge the BBC World Service to play its part?

Baroness Warsi: The noble Lord has asked me this question on a number of occasions; indeed I have answered it here from the Dispatch Box and also written to him. As he and other noble Lords may be aware, in 2013 the World Service reviewed the possible options for a Korean language service and concluded after a fact-finding mission that questions of likely audience reach, cost and technical feasibility meant that such a service was not appropriate at this stage. I am aware of the UN commissioner’s report. The noble Lord will be aware that that contained two quite specific approaches to how engagement could happen: the first was through the broadcasting route and the second through encouraging people-to-people contact. We are one of the few countries that has extensive people-to-people contract because of our embassy in North Korea. The UN report also recognised that that is one of the ways in which we can engage in dialogue.

Q9. [902972] Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): On Monday, South Korean newspapers said that North Korea was due to execute 33 people for having had contact with a Christian missionary. Given that a quarter of a million people are in North Korean prison camps, will the Deputy Prime Minister urge the BBC World Service to use its existing transmitters to broadcast into North Korea, especially as more and more North Koreans now have access to radios? The Deputy Prime Minister:

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue. As he knows, our embassy in Pyongyang continues to engage critically with the 12 Mar 2014 : Column 316 North Korean regime and tries to ensure that there are as many opportunities for dialogue as possible, including information coming into the country. The BBC World Service is of course operationally, editorially and managerially independent. I understand that at the end of last year it decided, following a review, that it could not continue to offer an effective and affordable Korean language service. That is of course a matter for the BBC World Service itself.

Subject: Independent today: BBC World Service – Mr. Justice Kirby intervenes To view the Video launched at the APPG on North Korea on March 11th 2014 – what BBC World Service Korea might look like – logon as follows:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywDAUhb7POA&feature=youtu.be Also see: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bbc-can-make-a-difference-in-north-korea–by-broadcasting-world-service-programmes-in-korean-9182594.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/opinion/ian-burrell-news-the-north-koreans-can-trust-9179941.html

One of the world’s experts on North Korea has called on the BBC to “be part of the solution” in fighting human rights abuses under Kim Jong-un’s repressive regime by initiating Korean-language broadcasts by the BBC World Service. Michael Kirby, the eminent retired Australian judge who chaired a recent Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea for the United Nations Human Rights Council, told
The Independent that the BBC could make a difference to the lives of people in “a country that has been largely cut off from the rest of the world”.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Kirby said the BBC was in a position to make a difference in North Korea. “Because the BBC World Service is still such a globally respected voice, the revelations in the recent UN COI report demonstrate the special needs, and particular utility, of providing the BBC to the Korean peninsula,” he said.

The COI’s report last month identified “unspeakable atrocities” in North Korea and found there was “an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” in the state. The findings, which Mr Kirby said demanded “attention from the international community”, made headlines around the world. He told The Independent: “The strict controls on sources of information in North Korea, revealed in the COI report, surely add to the arguments for an increased outreach by the civilised world to the people of North Korea.

With its hard won reputation for truthful reporting, fair coverage and proper priorities, the BBC has a special potential to be part of the solution.” There is a growing voice in Westminster for a BBC Korea service, broadcasting from South Korea, and on Tuesday at a meeting in the House of Commons a “pilot” BBC Korean show will be played to demonstrate how such a service might sound. Funding of the World Service has passed from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to the BBC.

Previous BBC studies have identified problems in providing a Korean service, especially in relation to the difficulties of the North Korean population tuning in and defying the ban on listening to foreign broadcasts. Foreign Secretary William Hague said recently that it was “not currently possible for the World Service to offer a meaningful, effective and cost-effective service”. But last week Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire gave renewed hope to campaigners for a Korean service when he said: “We have approached the BBC and are waiting for its detailed response.”

The Independent has seen a confidential report on the viability of a BBC Korean service written by the investigative journalist John Sweeney, who infiltrated the country last year by posing as an academic and filming a documentary for Panorama. “The humanitarian need for a BBC Korea Service broadcasting to the whole peninsular is clear,” he concluded. Mr Kirby said his appreciation of the impact of the BBC’s reporting stemmed from his own experience of listening to the “Radio Newsreel” as a schoolboy in Sydney in the 1950s. “It rescued me from a purely national or local perspective of news that was of concern to me.

It helped to make me a citizen of the world,” he said. Although he acknowledged that he had “no knowledge of the competing priorities of the BBC and the cost factors involved”, Mr Kirby said the BBC had the potential to reduce human rights violations in North Korea. “The path to greater human rights respect lies through greater awareness of the world, and of their own country, on the part of the population of North Korea.”

Lord Alton of Liverpool, one of those campaigning for a BBC Korea Service, said: “It seems unbelievable that the BBC World Service, which has been a game changer from the former Soviet bloc to Burma, does not play its part in breaking this information blockade. I hope they will hear Michael Kirby’s message and respond positively.”

The BBC said: “We agree that there is a severe lack of media freedom in North Korea and an acute need for more choice and variety of media content. However, the available research suggests that there are strict controls in the North on what people are allowed to listen to or watch, difficulty in obtaining radios and a complete lack of internet access – which we confirmed when a senior delegation visited South Korea earlier this year expressly to investigate the possibilities Given these significant barriers and having given this careful consideration, we do not believe it would be cost effective and viable to broadcast existing or new content to North Korea at the present time but we will keep our position under review and look seriously at any new opportunities that emerge.”

Extend the BBC World Service to North and South Korea – Change.org http://www.change.org/…/lord-patten-of-barnes-extend-the-bbc-world-service-…‎ o Cached

We, the undersigned students and residents of Oxford, are deeply concerned by the refusal of the BBC to extend its World Service to the Korean Peninsula, and …

Led by the senior Conservative MP, Gary Streeter, 15 MPs from all political parties have tabled a House of Commons Motion calling for the extension of BBC World Service Broadcasts to the Korean Peninsula.

Mr.Streeter is Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. You can ask your MP to add their name.

BBC WORLD BROADCASTS TO THE KOREAN PENINSULA • Session: 2012-13 • Date tabled: 07.02.2013 • Primary sponsor: Streeter, Gary • Sponsors: o Bottomley, Peter o George, Andrew o Meale, Alan o Russell, Bob o Shannon, Jim That this House endorses the recent calls made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the BBC World Service that World Service transmissions should be extended to the Korean Peninsula; welcomes the recent remarks of the hon. Member for East Devon and Peter Horrocks of BBC World Service, made at meetings in Parliament, which rightly recognised the role which the BBC can play in promoting human rights, democracy, culture and language; and believes that an extension of transmissions to the Korean Peninsula would be an appropriate way to celebrate both the 80th anniversary of the BBC World Service and to recognise Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the right of all citizens to freely listen to broadcasts and to exchange ideas.”>http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/opinion/ian-burrell-news-the-north-koreans-can-trust-9179941.html

One of the world’s experts on North Korea has called on the BBC to “be part of the solution” in fighting human rights abuses under Kim Jong-un’s repressive regime by initiating Korean-language broadcasts by the BBC World Service.

Michael Kirby, the eminent retired Australian judge who chaired a recent Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea for the United Nations Human Rights Council, told The Independent that the BBC could make a difference to the lives of people in “a country that has been largely cut off from the rest of the world”.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Kirby said the BBC was in a position to make a difference in North Korea.
“Because the BBC World Service is still such a globally respected voice, the revelations in the recent UN COI report demonstrate the special needs, and particular utility, of providing the BBC to the Korean peninsula,” he said.

The COI’s report last month identified “unspeakable atrocities” in North Korea and found there was “an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” in the state. The findings, which Mr Kirby said demanded “attention from the international community”, made headlines around the world.

He told The Independent: “The strict controls on sources of information in North Korea, revealed in the COI report, surely add to the arguments for an increased outreach by the civilised world to the people of North Korea. With its hard won reputation for truthful reporting, fair coverage and proper priorities, the BBC has a special potential to be part of the solution.”
There is a growing voice in Westminster for a BBC Korea service, broadcasting from South Korea, and on Tuesday at a meeting in the House of Commons a “pilot” BBC Korean show will be played to demonstrate how such a service might sound.
Funding of the World Service has passed from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to the BBC. Previous BBC studies have identified problems in providing a Korean service, especially in relation to the difficulties of the North Korean population tuning in and defying the ban on listening to foreign broadcasts.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said recently that it was “not currently possible for the World Service to offer a meaningful, effective and cost-effective service”. But last week Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire gave renewed hope to campaigners for a Korean service when he said: “We have approached the BBC and are waiting for its detailed response.”

The Independent has seen a confidential report on the viability of a BBC Korean service written by the investigative journalist John Sweeney, who infiltrated the country last year by posing as an academic and filming a documentary for Panorama. “The humanitarian need for a BBC Korea Service broadcasting to the whole peninsular is clear,” he concluded.

Mr Kirby said his appreciation of the impact of the BBC’s reporting stemmed from his own experience of listening to the “Radio Newsreel” as a schoolboy in Sydney in the 1950s. “It rescued me from a purely national or local perspective of news that was of concern to me. It helped to make me a citizen of the world,” he said.

Although he acknowledged that he had “no knowledge of the competing priorities of the BBC and the cost factors involved”, Mr Kirby said the BBC had the potential to reduce human rights violations in North Korea. “The path to greater human rights respect lies through greater awareness of the world, and of their own country, on the part of the population of North Korea.”
Lord Alton of Liverpool, one of those campaigning for a BBC Korea Service, said: “It seems unbelievable that the BBC World Service, which has been a game changer from the former Soviet bloc to Burma, does not play its part in breaking this information blockade. I hope they will hear Michael Kirby’s message and respond positively.”

The BBC said: “We agree that there is a severe lack of media freedom in North Korea and an acute need for more choice and variety of media content. However, the available research suggests that there are strict controls in the North on what people are allowed to listen to or watch, difficulty in obtaining radios and a complete lack of internet access – which we confirmed when a senior delegation visited South Korea earlier this year expressly to investigate the possibilities Given these significant barriers and having given this careful consideration, we do not believe it would be cost effective and viable to broadcast existing or new content to North Korea at the present time but we will keep our position under review and look seriously at any new opportunities that emerge.”
1. Extend the BBC World Service to North and South Korea – Change.org
http://www.change.org/…/lord-patten-of-barnes-extend-the-bbc-world-service-…‎
o Cached
We, the undersigned students and residents of Oxford, are deeply concerned by the refusal of the BBC to extend its World Service to the Korean Peninsula, and …

Led by the senior Conservative MP, Gary Streeter, 15 MPs from all political parties have tabled a House of Commons Motion calling for the extension of BBC World Service Broadcasts to the Korean Peninsula. Mr.Streeter is Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. You can ask your MP to add their name.
BBC WORLD BROADCASTS TO THE KOREAN PENINSULA
• Session: 2012-13
• Date tabled: 07.02.2013
• Primary sponsor: Streeter, Gary
• Sponsors:
o Bottomley, Peter
o George, Andrew
o Meale, Alan
o Russell, Bob
o Shannon, Jim
That this House endorses the recent calls made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the BBC World Service that World Service transmissions should be extended to the Korean Peninsula; welcomes the recent remarks of the hon. Member for East Devon and Peter Horrocks of BBC World Service, made at meetings in Parliament, which rightly recognised the role which the BBC can play in promoting human rights, democracy, culture and language; and believes that an extension of transmissions to the Korean Peninsula would be an appropriate way to celebrate both the 80th anniversary of the BBC World Service and to recognise Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the right of all citizens to freely listen to broadcasts and to exchange ideas.

BBC WS 4
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Human Rights in North Korea
Refugee Testimonies and other online videos

The following selection of online talks, videos and documentaries provide informative first-hand accounts of human rights violations in North Korea. WTthese videos are worth watching for moving and informative background. There are others available on youtube.com as well, but the following is a selection.

Secret State of North Korea – PBS (53.41 minutes)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnBUDYQxhaw and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/secret-state-of-north-korea/
An up-to-date, very informative, secretly filmed documentary on life in North Korea.

Breaking the Silence – Journeyman Pictures (12.17 minutes)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlEvL0ld8D8
Background to the UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights in North Korea

Hyeonseo Lee – Ted talk (12mins)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdxPCeWw75k
Growing up she thought her country was the best in the world, although she often wondered about the outside world. She escaped North Korea during the famine in the 1990’s. Her story focuses on her escape and resettlement, and the struggle to later get her family out of North Korea.

Joseph Kim – Ted talk (14 mins)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLeeTVmVrtA
“Hunger is humiliation. Hunger is hopelessness…” He became an orphan after his father died and his mother disappeared. He went to China to look for his sister and crossed the border during the day because he was scared of the dark. Joseph Kim talks of his escape and resettlement in America, and how a chicken wing changed his life.

Seong Ho Ji – (9mins)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zrebN7mV8o
Seong Ho Ji and his brother fled North Korea in 2006 and travelled 6,000 miles across Asia before reaching South Korea. His only remaining possession from North Korea is a pair of crutches – he only has one leg.

Shin Dong-hyuk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms4NIB6xroc (Google tech talk – 1.06 hours)
http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/media/ (shorter version, Ted talk – 12 mins).
http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=9FZMwoY7DyM (Journeyman Pictures – 19.29 minutes)

Shin Dong-hyuk was born in a special prison zone and ‘had no real feelings as a kid’. He saw his mother as the cause of his suffering. These accounts tell of his life growing up in the prison. He later escaped North Korea and described how even the North Korea outside the prison seemed amazing.

Yoon Hee and Anon – CNN Digital Originals (4.5 mins)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72KHZguk-WE

Yoon Hee lived on the streets from 8 years old. For her, food is life. She was abandoned by her parents because they couldn’t look after her. Her story as a defector portrays how life outside North Korea isn’t easy to adjust to and not necessarily safe.
Anon described the struggles in adjusting to a new life in South Korea and the disadvantages faced by students who are North Korean refugees, but how, through special programmes, the ‘country is supporting him, like a parent.

Han-sol Kim (nephew of Kim Jong-Un) – interview with Elizabeth Rehn, in two parts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_uSuCkKa3k (Part 1 – 15 minutes)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSfVOf4OACs (Part 2 – 14.32 minutes)

A fascinating interview with the nephew of Kim Jong-Un, who has bravely spoken out while studying in Europe.

LINK – Liberty in North Korea:
http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/media/ (Various)

Danny’s Story (30mins)
He describes living under oppression and in fear, in a country where he is denied freedom of speech, religion and access to information (among other things). He tells of his escape and recalls the moment when his eyes were opened to outside world for first time and to the lies that he had been told. He dreams of being able to go back to North Korea and capture his homeland in pictures.

North Korean Refugee Crisis (3mins)
Successfully fleeing North Korea is just the beginning. This short video outlines the fears and troubles of being a North Korean refugee in China.

The People’s History (4mins)
A brief history behind the current political situation in North Korea.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Michael Kirby gave a brilliant speech in Geneva, and various countries, including the UK and the EU, explicitly backed an ICC referral as well as the wider COI recommendations – see http://webtv.un.org/watch/id-commission-of-inquiry-on-dprk-31st-meeting-25th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/3350537718001/

Matthew Jones spoke, representing both Jubilee Campaign and CSW – http://webtv.un.org/watch/id-commission-of-inquiry-on-dprk-31st-meeting-25th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/3350537718001/

Fiona Bruce has tabled the following EDM in the Commons – see http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/1184

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New Movie on religious persecution in North Korea…. from Amnesty International UK and the INKAHRD(International North Korean’s Association for Human Rights and Democracy)

To those who are working hard to improve the human rights situation in North Korea
Have you had a chance to read the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry(COI), chaired by the Honourable Michael Kirby, highlighting North Korea’s human rights abuses?

We believe the most important lesson from the 400-page UN COI report is that North Korea must change. And we must remember, as Sir Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”.

In this effort, Amnesty International UK and the INKAHRD(International North Korean’s Association for Human Rights and Democracy) are screening a film that reveals the reality of underground church in North Korea. I look forward to welcoming you at this film screening event and seeking ways to further protect and promote human rights in North Korea.
Film title – The Apostle: he was anointed by God(2014)
Location – Amnesty International UK Human Rights Action Centre(17-25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA)

초대장

지금도 북한인권운동에 헌신하는 여러분, 혹시 M Kirby 위원장의 UN COI 보고서를 읽어 보셨습니까?
400페이지가 넘는 그 보고서는 북한에 변화를 주어야 한다는 말로 요약될 수 있지 않을까 합니다. 처칠경은 이렇게 말했습니다. ‘무엇인가 개선을 한다는 것은 변화를 한다는 말이며 완벽해 진다는 것은 그 변화가 자주 일어나야 한다는 말이다’라고
그래서 저희 국제탈북민연대와 AI는 이러한 노력의 일환으로 북한지하기독교 실상을 다룬 북한인권영화 시사회를 아래와 같이 개최할 예정이오니 여러분들의 많은 관심과 참여로 북한인권운동의 새로운 도약을 모색해 보았으면 합니다.
– 영화 제목 ; 신이보낸 사람
– 일시ㆍ장소 ; 2014.3.20(목) 19;00, AI內 Human Rights Action Center
Amnesty International•국제탈북민연대(INKAHRD)

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Susie Younger Never Ending Flower 2

Susie Younger’s book “Never Ending Flower” was published in 1967. She was a young Scot who read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford. While she was a student she became a Christian and, in 1960, went to Korea, learnt the language, and decided to work among the poor for the rest of her life. Her book was published in 1967 by Collins and Harvill. It’s an inspiring account – not unlike the stories of Gladys Aylward and Jackie Pullinger, who also found their way to the Orient. See: https://davidalton.net/2013/05/11/gladys-aylward-the-little-woman-and-chinas-inn-of-the-sixth-happiness/

Having arrived in Korea with a young Austrian companion, Maria Heissenberger, they set up a house for young street children, bootblacks whose employers exploited them at took most of their earnings from them. It was a tiny house and they lived with those they cared for, sleeping on the floors and living of a simple diet of rice, barley and vegetables.

The project was an early recipient of help from OXFAM and CAFOD and it led to a second house being created in Taegu where Susie set up a home for country girls. They had come to the city looking for work and had been ensnared into prostitution. Susie Younger records some profoundly moving stories of girls who rediscover themselves and who find security, love, employment and, often, marriage.

In the later part of the book Susie Younger describes the creation of a 200 acre co-operative farm at Muhak. It was the brain child of a Korean priest, Fr.Lee, and part of its purpose was to create produce and resources to support Susie’s work. This was when she also met Fr.Stephen Kim – who would, in due course become the Bishop of Masan and eventually the Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul. It was he who stood against the military junta and protected the student protestors who had gathered in his Seoul cathedral. It is fascinating to discover him here, in a book written twenty year earlier, giving so much encouragement to a young Scot from Oxford University.

The book takes its title from the national flower of Korea, the Syrian hibiscus – the Biblical Rose of Sharon. Susie Younger says that because it blossoms from spring until late autumn this tenacious plant is known in Korea as “the never ending flower.”

Although, at the height of summer, the sun scorches and destroys its blossoms, the following day it is resplendent with new flowers. In the case of Korea – whether struggling in the 1960s from the after effects of the Korean War and military dictatorship or, in the North, from decades of totalitarianism – the resilience and the ability, in adversity, to renew and restore damaged beauty seems very apt.

The book concludes with an appendix in which Susie Younger sets out her personal testimony and her hope to stay among the people she felt called to serve for the rest of her life. The book was published in 1967 and it would be intriguing to know how the story continued.

BBC World Service Korea

A group of young Koreans have started a campaign to persuade the BBC World Service to broadcast to the Korean peninsula. They have a Facebook page to which anyone wishing to support their campaign can link:

http://www.facebook.com/BBCforKorea

This link takes you to a short film which examines the human rights situation in North Korea:

http://experience.thedefectormovie.com/

Click here for Shin Dong Hyok’s first speech in English describing his experiences in Camp 14 where he was born:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9jvVdr_T0U

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Led by the senior Conservative MP, Gary Streeter, 15 MPs from all political parties have tabled a House of Commons Motion calling for the extension of BBC World Service Broadcasts to the Korean Peninsula. Mr.Streeter is Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. You can ask your MP to add their name.

BBC WORLD BROADCASTS TO THE KOREAN PENINSULA
• Session: 2012-13
• Date tabled: 07.02.2013
• Primary sponsor: Streeter, Gary
• Sponsors:
o Bottomley, Peter
o George, Andrew
o Meale, Alan
o Russell, Bob
o Shannon, Jim
That this House endorses the recent calls made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the BBC World Service that World Service transmissions should be extended to the Korean Peninsula; welcomes the recent remarks of the hon. Member for East Devon and Peter Horrocks of BBC World Service, made at meetings in Parliament, which rightly recognised the role which the BBC can play in promoting human rights, democracy, culture and language; and believes that an extension of transmissions to the Korean Peninsula would be an appropriate way to celebrate both the 80th anniversary of the BBC World Service and to recognise Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the right of all citizens to freely listen to broadcasts and to exchange ideas.
Total number of signatures: 15
1. Show:
Supported by:
A list of all MPs that have signed and support the motion.
Showing 15 out of 15
Name
Party
Constituency
Date Signed

Bottomley, Peter
Conservative Party Worthing West 07.02.2013
Bruce, Fiona
Conservative Party Congleton 13.02.2013
Caton, Martin
Labour Party Gower 13.02.2013
Dodds, Nigel
Democratic Unionist Party Belfast North 13.02.2013
Field, Frank
Labour Party Birkenhead 14.02.2013
George, Andrew
Liberal Democrats St Ives 07.02.2013
Hancock, Mike
Liberal Democrats Portsmouth South 13.02.2013
Leech, John
Liberal Democrats Manchester Withington 12.02.2013
McDonnell, John
Labour Party Hayes and Harlington 12.02.2013
Meale, Alan
Labour Party Mansfield 11.02.2013
Osborne, Sandra
Labour Party Ayr Carrick and Cumnock 13.02.2013
Russell, Bob
Liberal Democrats Colchester 07.02.2013
Shannon, Jim
Democratic Unionist Party Strangford 12.02.2013
Sharma, Virendra
Labour Party Ealing Southall 12.02.2013
Streeter, Gary
Conservative Party South West Devon 07.02.2013

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Most British people, me included, have long been proud of the role the British Broadcasting Corporation
plays in facilitating free flow of information. The BBC, with its 188 million listeners, has been instrumental to upholding the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights around the world. I am convinced that this service must also be extended to over 70 million inhabitants of the Korean peninsula in their language and in English, so that our dialogue over shared beliefs can become a truly global one.

The BBC has proven its commitment to neutrality and freedom of press over its long history of excellent reporting. It strives to provide news coverage that eschews a particular point of view, whether political, social, or national. It has the courage and resources to address events that others may be unwilling or unable to. It embodies the best of what modern Britain has to offer.

South Korea is a major player in global trade, cultural production, and technological innovation. It has succeeded in becoming one such despite insurmountable odds, and now serves as a model for other countries who wish to emulate its “Miracle on the Han River”. It is my strong belief that a Korean language broadcast of the BBC World Service will be in not only South Korea’s interest, but that of Britain as well.

In the case of North Korea, where free press does not exist and unbiased facts are difficult to come by, offering objective news coverage of global affairs in a language understandable to North Korean citizens will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the political standoff that has lasted almost six decades between the two Koreas. This task must be a priority for the BBC, whose stated purposes include sustaining citizenship and civil society.

I am confident that together we will make the Korean language broadcast of the BBC World Service a reality. The campaign, “BBC for Korea”. has my full support and I hope many others will endorse it at:

Calls for BBC World Seervice To Broadcast To Korea

Calls for BBC World Seervice To Broadcast To Korea

http://www.facebook.com/BBCforKorea

North Korea Debated in Parliament – Peers Spotlight Security Huamn rights and Humanitarian Concerns

North Korea spent £500 million launching a missile while people go without food -  and shoot to kill refugees at the River Tumen

North Korea spent £500 million launching a missile while people go without food – and shoot to kill refugees at the River Tumen

Baroness (Caroline) Cox

Baroness (Caroline) Cox

A Camp Survivor Giving Evidence

A Camp Survivor Giving Evidence

north korea missile launch
Shin Dong Hyok

Shin Dong Hyok

Calls for BBC World Seervice To Broadcast To Korea

Calls for BBC World Seervice To Broadcast To Korea

North Korea Prison Camps Kim Young Soon - a survivor giving testimony

North Korea Prison Camps Kim Young Soon – a survivor giving testimony

Shin Dong Hyok - born in Camp 14 where he was incarcerated for 23 years

Shin Dong Hyok – born in Camp 14 where he was incarcerated for 23 years

To view the debate on North Korea click here:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=12298

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uh05ubF56Q
https://davidalton.net/2013/01/11/the-prison-camps-of-north-korea/

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2013/01/uk-should-lead-the-way-on-north-korea-accountability-information-critical-engagement-1.html#more

Korean Peninsula
Question for Short Debate January 21st 2013
5.01 pm
Asked By Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the security, humanitarian, and human rights situation on the Korean Peninsula
.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I thank noble Lords from all parts of the House for taking part in today’s short debate. I know that the retiming of the

21 Jan 2013 : Column 972

debate will deprive us of several contributions, notably that of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, who has to chair a Select Committee.
The Motion before us focuses, as I will, on three things: security, humanitarian needs and human rights concerns in North Korea. Since 2003, when, with my noble friend Lady Cox, I made the first of four visits to North Korea, I have served as chairman of the All-Party Group on North Korea. Last September, while in China, I visited the River Tumen, where many trying to leave the DPRK have lost their lives.
The continuing security challenges posed by North Korea were underlined by its rocket launch in December and reports a week ago that it may be about to conduct its third nuclear test. Last Friday, the Russian ambassador to the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, said:
“Our position is that the North Korean rocket launch is a violation of a UN Security Council resolution, so the council should react”.
Even more significantly, China is also likely to support a new resolution this week-a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang, about which the Minister will doubtless say more. We are talking about the most militarised country on earth, with the world’s fourth largest army and biggest special forces. North Korea’s arsenal includes the full array of weapons of mass destruction: a plutonium-based nuclear weapons programme now supplemented by uranium enrichment; the world’s third largest chemical weapons arsenal; possible biological weapons; and a range of ballistic missiles.
A failure to hammer out a long-term political settlement and a conflict triggered by a Sarajevo moment would replicate the horrendous haemorrhaging loss of life that saw the catastrophic deaths of around 3 million people in the Korean War. The 2010 sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island underline North Korea’s capacity to initiate hostility, and, in the cyber domain, interference with the GPS systems of planes using Seoul’s busy airports, all indicate North Korea’s ability to inflict harm, short of invasion.
An isolated rogue state has the power to inflict other miseries, too, including drug trafficking, currency counterfeiting, crimes of abduction and the transfer of nuclear technology, which can be sold to terrorists or to countries such as Iran, and which I hope the Minister will comment upon. Since 1953, North Korea has promoted an ideology based on “military first”. For both sides, it has largely been a case of military first, second and third. In this context, Kim Jong-un was right in his New Year’s Day assertion that,
“past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war”.
In a similar vein, the Republic of Korea’s new President, Park Geun-hye, has called for deeper engagement. She said:
“While we cannot allow the North to develop nuclear weapons … we must keep open the possibility of dialogue, including humanitarian aid”.
Britain has diplomatic relations with both sides and should build on the successful 2011 visit of Choe Tae Bok, the Speaker of the North Korean Supreme Assembly, who expressed interest in both our Northern Ireland

21 Jan 2013 : Column 973

peace process and the Hong Kong formula of two systems in one country. As the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan clearly understood, advocating the use of soft power should not be confused with being a soft touch.
President Park made reference to the dire humanitarian situation-my second point. Two million died during the 1990s North Korean famine. Our previous two excellent ambassadors in Pyongyang both issued warnings about the reappearance of malnutrition, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, when she spoke to our all-party group last year. In July in the House I warned of the unacceptable use of food as a “weapon of war”. Food deprivation and malnutrition lead to physical frailty and stunting, long-term intellectual impairment and increased vulnerability to disease. North Korea’s leaders might reflect that the cost of their missile launch-more than £500 million-could have bought 2.5 million tonnes of corn and 1.4 million tonnes of rice. I hope that the Minister will give her assessment of the current food situation and Kim Jong-un’s recent announcements of Chinese-style agricultural reform, as well as her assessment of the welcome brokering by Jang Song-taek-Kim Jong-un’s uncle-of two new joint economic zones with China.
Thirdly, on human rights, according to the United Nations, 200,000 people are languishing in festering prison camps-the kwan-li-so-where 400,000 people have died in the past 30 years. In an evidence session here, Shin Dong Hyok described how he was born and spent 23 years in Camp 14 and was tortured and subjected to forced labour. At 14, he was made to watch the execution of his mother and brother. BBC Radio 4 has broadcast extracts of his harrowing story The evidence given to our committee and described in a House of Commons debate initiated by Mrs Fiona Bruce MP include accounts of executions, torture, detention, forced labour, trafficking, religious persecution and the “guilt by association” policy, which leads to the arrest, imprisonment and punishment of detainees’ families for up to three generations. We have also heard of women impregnated by Chinese men facing forced abortions or infanticide following deportation by China.
When did the British Government last raise with the Government of China the issues of forced repatriation, the absence of a refugee adjudication process, the denial of access by the UNHCR and the other matters to which I referred? A few months ago, I raised in your Lordships’ House the use of capital punishment. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, said that officials from the Foreign Office would reply to me on that point, but I still have not received a reply.
Just a week ago, describing what she called a “beleaguered, subjugated population”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for an international inquiry into serious crimes, a proposal supported by around 50 human rights organisations. She said that security questions,
“should not be allowed to overshadow the deplorable human rights situation … which in one way or another affects almost the entire population and has no parallel anywhere … in the world”.

21 Jan 2013 : Column 974

North Korea has never allowed United Nations special rapporteurs on human rights to enter the country, but with 25,000 North Koreans living in the south and an estimated 100,000 living illegally in China, there would be no shortage of evidence for such an inquiry to assess.
Straightforwardly, do Her Majesty’s Government support the creation of a United Nations-sponsored commission of inquiry, and will we vote for it if it comes to a vote? Historians will surely question our generation’s extraordinary indifference to North Korea’s gulag archipelago.
Looking to the future, an approach based on Helsinki-style engagement would surely seek to build on the small advances of recent years. One is in education. Here I make reference to the remarkable story of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, to the first Chevening scholars at Cambridge, and to the use of English as the north’s second official language. This should encourage the BBC World Service to respond positively to the 18 Korean organisations which have requested broadcasts to the Korean peninsula-an issue which Peter Horrocks, the director of BBC Global News, will address at the all-party group on Wednesday of this week.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right … to receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
The World Service’s 80th anniversary-and its role in places such as the former Soviet Union and Burma-is a timely reminder of the power of ideas. We know that 14% of defectors say they listened to foreign broadcasts, and 44% of those questioned said that they admired foreign societies. Two weeks ago Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, were in North Korea urging internet freedom.
Not to encourage reform, not to invest in promoting progress and not to break the information blockade would render pointless Britain’s millennium decision to forge diplomatic relations with the DPRK. We owe it to the coming generation, to the Koreans who perish during their hazardous escapes, to those who suffer from a lack of food or medicine, and to those who are the victims of an ideology that has become prisoner of its own rhetoric, to do better than simply offer Cassandra-like predictions of thermonuclear war-predictions which, if they came to pass, would reduce the whole peninsula to an irradiated cemetery.
As today we assess the security, humanitarian and human rights challenges on the Korean peninsula, with the new leadership in the north and south and in China, too, and with today’s second-term inauguration of a United States President, surely there is a moment for change: a time to end the war and to replace it with long overdue peace and prosperity.

5.12 pm
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, one of my favourite political quotations is the famous remark of Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph requires only that good men remain silent. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, and his colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady

21 Jan 2013 : Column 975

Cox, are wonderful examples of good men and good women not remaining silent. The courage that was required to visit North Korea time and again in the face of all kinds of discouragements, fears and threats is greatly to the credit of them both, and they stand as Members of this House with every possible right to claim the respect and admiration of us all.
I begin by saying about North Korea that it is, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Alton, implied, a deeply traumatised state. It is a state with a very strong history of being victimised-by the Japanese, by the Chinese and by those in other countries-and one that has never really recovered its balance from that terrible history. The strange thing about North Korea-and in this respect I think it is unlike Iran-is that the idea that one might sacrifice one’s population to a nuclear attack does not seem to cross the minds of the North Korean regime in the way that I think it crosses the minds of all other regimes, including nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan, and would-be nuclear powers, such as Iran. North Korea has destroyed or allowed the destruction of such a large part of its civilian population that the one great barrier against using a nuclear weapon-the fear of losing one’s own population-probably has less effect in North Korean than in any other country on the face of the earth. That is the most frightening thing about North Korea. It looks like a county whose regime would be capable of using a nuclear weapon because in the end saving the regime is more important than saving the population.
Let us look briefly at the security history, although I wholly take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, that that is in many ways secondary to the terrible, indescribably awful human rights regime that has been conducted for so long by this extraordinarily strange dynasty of Kim Il-sung and his successors, which has become a kind of secondary religious heresy demanding the deification of its own leadership. The story in North Korea is one of having walked away altogether from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty-the NPT-to which it originally belonged. It walked away from the NPT in order to breach some of the key provisions, one of the most important being that there would not be a continuation by its members of nuclear testing in the face of what has not been a new treaty, tragically, but what has certainly been a very long period of postponement and delay when no nuclear power, with the single exception of North Korea, has continued to test nuclear weapons. Other countries are frightening in their own way, but this direct breach of this key provision, widely morally accepted, if not legally accepted, is an extremely disturbing fact.
North Korea has about five or six nuclear bombs, based, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, rightly said, on the use of plutonium, ironically originally provided as part of the nuclear materials for peace movement in the United States in the 1970s. It broke the understanding and conditions of that provision of nuclear materials for peace by deliberately saving the plutonium from that programme and using it as the origins of its relatively small nuclear arsenal. The best information we have is that something between six and eight fully realised nuclear weapons are owned by North Korea.

21 Jan 2013 : Column 976

That is one of the smallest nuclear arsenals in the world but it is still one capable of creating immense and savage destruction.
North Korea went ahead to produce a great many short-range ballistic missiles-we believe that it has some hundreds-and also medium-range ballistic missiles, of which it certainly has scores. What it has failed to do so far, with the exception that I shall come to in a moment, is to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles, which has become a major objective of the regime. By an intercontinental ballistic missile, we mean one with a range of more than 3,000 miles, capable of reaching Japan certainly, but also the west coast of the United States. The first attempt by North Korea in 2009 to develop an ICBM failed rather obviously and conspicuously and was noted with some satisfaction by the rest of the world. Tragically, only a month ago, on 12 December 2012, once again the regime-this time of Kim Jong-un, the son of Kim Jong-il-was successful and the missile managed to find its way across Japan, flying high above Japan but nevertheless into Japanese airspace, before it crashed some time later into the Pacific. It was clearly a successful intercontinental launch.
At the moment, the belief generally held in the nuclear weapons community is that North Korea has not been able to miniaturise nuclear warheads to the point where the relatively small or low-power ICBMs it may be producing could carry them intercontinentally to a country such as the United States. But even having said that, the fact that it is now capable of launching such a package, although not yet miniaturising it to a point that it becomes effective, is obviously not far away from what could be a fully fledged ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead.
The one piece of relatively good news is that the speech that the new “Young Leader” of North Korea made a few weeks ago to mark his taking over of power-although there was very little in it that was not Orwellian in its terminology and philosophy-contained a small sign of light when he spoke of creating a movement towards some kind of peaceful agreement with South Korea. The possibility therefore arises, which might be worth pursuing, of a non-nuclear Korean peninsula which fits into the pattern of the non-nuclear zones which have now been established from Latin America, by way of Africa, to parts of Asia.
The offer lies on the table, as it has for several years, in the six-plus-one peace talks, of which North Korea is a member, that in return for a decision to end nuclear testing and development and fully to accept the additional protocol of the nuclear peace treaty, North Korea would then have opened to it investment, supplies of food aid and a willingness to allow it to rejoin the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. As the noble Lord, Lord Alton, pointed out, that is a fairly distant hope at the present time for a country as strange as this one. If anyone deserves such a response and the good will of the rest of the world, then the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and his colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, do. They have gone as far as human beings who are not themselves in government can go to try to bring it about.

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5.21 pm
The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, for initiating this short debate. I have been able to attend some of the meetings organised by the all-party group, and particularly welcomed the chance in 2011 to meet the Speaker of the North Korean Assembly, Choe Tae Bok, when he visited the United Kingdom as the guest of that all-party group. Among the questions we touched upon during that discussion were the humanitarian situation and the issue of religious freedom, and today I should like to say something about both.
Forty years ago, North Korea’s gross domestic product was twice that of South Korea. Today, North Korea is among the world’s poorest nations while the south is among the richest. Today, the gross domestic of South Korea is nearly 30 times that of the north-a 60-fold difference. The situation has been aggravated by famine, a series of natural disasters and the near total collapse of the Soviet economies, once the DPRK’s primary market, all of which have, of course, contributed to the country’s abject poverty.
UNICEF DPRK recently published its national nutritional survey. There was one slight encouragement: that malnutrition had dropped by four percentage points since 2009. However, I go on quickly to say that, nevertheless, malnutrition is over 27%. UNICEF’s representative in North Korea, Desiree Jongsma, reminded us of what that statistic means. She said that,
“more than one in every four children remains stunted, hostage to life-long ill-health and reduced educational and career prospects as a result of a lack of much needed proteins, fruits, vegetables and fats, as well as frequent infections due to a lack of both essential medicines and clean water, as well as poor hygiene”.
On average, boys in North Korea are five inches shorter than their South Korean counterparts and weigh 25 pounds less. Malnutrition, of course, leads not only to physical weakness but to intellectual impairment. It leads to a frail population and makes the people especially vulnerable to disease.
When the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, visited North Korea, I understand that they were told by senior DPRK officials that the average citizen receives only a meagre 350 to 400 grams of rice each day, well short of even the regime’s sparse target of 600 grams. However, I understand that the reality in practice is that many see no rice at all, subsisting instead on husky cornmeal. Two million people are estimated to have died during the famine of the 1990s.
In those circumstances, we need to think very carefully about the morality of food being used as a weapon of war or coercion. Surely it can never be right to withhold food from starving people as a way of punishing their leaders. It was a tragedy that the £126 million food programme which the United States had generously decided to put in place last year was literally blown off the agenda by North Korea’s decision to launch a satellite nine months ago. However, the North Korean leadership should also reflect on the morality of spending vast sums on developing a nuclear capability and on maintaining the world’s fourth largest standing army when they cannot feed their own people. That is surely a scandalous and immoral misuse of resources.

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The former Leader of your Lordships’ House, the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, said that the situation has been “getting worse year on year”. She continued,
“the most vulnerable people in North Korea are victims of a situation over which they have no control. They are suffering from no fault of their own”.
South Korea’s decision to withhold food aid, supported by the Obama Administration, has inevitably put innocent lives at risk while doing nothing to bring about the end of the conflict between north and south. You cannot starve people into submission and you should never try.
In May 2012, two organisations, Sant’Egidio and Caritas Korea, delivered 25 tonnes of food aid to the DPRK. That was done at the request of Han Tae-song, North Korea’s former ambassador to Rome. That is but a small contribution; nevertheless, it is an act on which we must build. It is not coincidental that those organisations which have been taking in food and medicine have often been inspired to do so by their Christian faith. I think, for instance, of the remarkable American priest, Father Jerry Hammond, who has made more than 40 visits to North Korea, taking in medicines to combat tuberculosis.
Paradoxically, despite that outpouring of practical love, since the 18th century Korea has been the scene of much persecution of Christians. In 1846, Korea’s first ordained Catholic priest, Andrew Kim, was at the age of 25 taken to the Han sands, where he was stripped naked and decapitated; there have been more than 8,000 Catholic martyrs. In 1866, Robert Jermain Thomas, a Welsh missionary, travelled on behalf of the Bible Society to Pyongyang and to the Taedong river, where he was executed. The latest Open Doors World Watch List, published less than two weeks ago, ranks North Korea as the country where Christians are persecuted the most, as has been the case every year since the list was first published in 2002.
Christians are motivated by love, believing that each person is made in the image of God and, because of that, worthy of the utmost respect and elevation of their human dignity. Religious freedom would bring untold blessings to North Korea, not least through the provision of sustained and significant programmes providing for food, education, welfare and health.
Kang Pan Sok, the great-grandmother of Kim Jong-un, was the elder of a Christian church in Pyongyang, so the leadership of that country know from their own story that they have nothing to fear from the Christian faith. It would be a sign of great hope if perhaps, in her memory, her great-grandson could now see the way to opening the path for the church to play its part in building and helping to contribute to a prosperous and peaceful North Korea. Now there is something to hope and pray for.
5.30 pm
Baroness Cox: My Lords, I join other noble Lords in expressing much gratitude to my noble friend Lord Alton for initiating this debate. I serve as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, which he chairs, and, as has been mentioned, I have travelled with him to North Korea on three occasions. I take this opportunity to pay sincere tribute to his

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tireless dedication to highlighting the situation in North Korea and his endeavours to promote the interests of citizens living there. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, for her very kind words.
I shall focus on human rights violations, referring to the Foreign Office update of its 2011 human rights and democracy report, in which the Government say that there has been,
“little change in the … human rights situation in the DPRK”.
I refer also to a recent statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who, after describing the human rights situation in North Korea, said that the DPRK Government have not accepted assistance to help to review North Korea’s criminal code and criminal procedures code to help to bring North Korea into line with international obligations. Does that remain the case, and do the Government have any further information about the numbers and conditions in the network of prison camps in which, as has been mentioned, the United Nations has estimated that some 200,000 inmates languish?
Have the Government responded to the call by Dr Marzuki Darusman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in DPRK, that individual,
“states and the international community … undertake a comprehensive review of the relevant documents, to assess the underlying patterns and trends, and … consider setting up a more detailed mechanism of inquiry”,
into human rights violations? If so, how?
In the absence of access to the prison camps-a request that my noble friend and I have made repeatedly to the North Korean authorities-and given the denial of access to the UN special rapporteur, we have to rely on the testimonies of those who have managed to escape. It was such first-hand testimonies that, eight years ago, prompted my noble friend and myself to become engaged in dialogue with the authorities in Pyongyang. We believe in building bridges and using our freedoms to promote the freedoms of those who do not have freedom.
I offer some examples of those first-hand testimonies. Most recently, two North Koreans, Dr Heung-kwang Kim and Yong-il Kim, told the all-party parliamentary group how they had risked their lives to leave the country. Dr Kim is the author of North Korea’s Future in 10 Years. He left North Korea, disillusioned with the economic system and a salary that was insufficient to feed himself and his family, claiming that,
“the State was indifferent to our lack of food”.
Yong-il Kim escaped from North Korea in 2000. He rode on the top of a train for 16 hours to avoid detection by the authorities. He helped to secure false papers for his parents and two brothers and they crossed the River Tumen into China, where, as my noble friend has said, many escapees are shot dead. After four years working in China, and alarmed by the number of forced repatriations to North Korea, he travelled to South Korea and is now the executive director of People for Successful Korean Reunification. He urges democratic nations to,
“emphasise human rights as much as they have emphasised security questions”.

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My third example, Ahn Myeong-Cheol, aged 37, described how his father killed himself when he learnt that he had been heard criticising the regime, while his mother and brothers were sent to prison camps as a punishment for his criticism. Ahn was “re-educated” and became a prison guard, witnessing guard dogs, imported from Russia, tear three children to pieces and the camp warden congratulating the guard who had trained the dogs. After he escaped, Ahn published They Are Crying for Help, urging the international community not to look away from the human rights violations and crimes against humanity experienced on a daily basis by the North Korean people.
My fourth example, Lee Young-kuk graphically described the degrading situation in prison:
“From the very first day, the guards with their rifles beat me. I was trampled on mercilessly until my legs became swollen, my eardrums were shattered, and my teeth were all broken. They wouldn’t allow us to sleep from 4 am till 10 pm and once while I was sleeping, they poured water over my head. Since the conditions within the prison were poor, my head became frostbitten from the bitter cold. Not a single day passed without receiving some form of torture and agonizing experience”.
My fifth example, Lee Sung-ae, described how prison guards pulled out her finger-nails, destroyed all her lower teeth and poured water mixed with chillies into her nose. Finally, Kim Hye-sook was sent to gaol aged 13 because her grandfather had gone to South Korea. She spent 28 years in the prison camp; as a child she was forced to work in coal mines and witness public executions. In 2011 she showed the all-party group her paintings depicting the suffering she both witnessed and experienced, ranging from deprivation of food to public executions and even cannibalism. She wept as she spoke about the death of her son in the camp.
According to Mr Narayan from Amnesty International, around 50,000 people are imprisoned in Camp 18, and two of every five prisoners die there. He showed the all-party group a DVD entitled “‘Hell holes’: North Korea’s Secret Prison Camps”, which may be viewed on YouTube.
Capital punishment has also been used routinely. In one recent year there were 52 executions, including the Minister of Railways, Kim Yong-sam, and Vice Minister So Nam-sin. May I ask the Minister when the British Government last made representations to the DPRK about the use of capital punishment in that country?
In conclusion, my noble friend and I have emphasised the importance of opening up dialogue; promoting Helsinki-style engagement; constantly reminding the authorities of their obligations and duties to their citizens; and breaking the information blockade. Like my noble friend Lord Alton, I have always been deeply impressed by the role which the BBC World Service has played in countries such as Burma and in the former Soviet Union. Despite the risks in listening to such broadcasts, people are desperate for news and contact with the wider world. As one escapee remarked:
“The flow of information is the most important way of changing attitudes and breaking the vice-like grip on the population”.
I therefore strongly support the possibility of the extension of the BBC World Service to the Korean peninsula. I was delighted when the Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire, told the last meeting of the all-party parliamentary group that:
“The issue is back on the table”.

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Before I finish, I briefly refer to the humanitarian situation in DPRK, with especially dire needs in the field of healthcare. I am very hopeful that Merlin-I must declare an interest as a founder trustee-might be able to undertake a programme there. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government would be willing to consider sympathetically supporting such an initiative.
The Korean people, both north and south, are gracious, courteous and hospitable. We must do all we can to help the people in North Korea to promote their human rights; to alleviate their humanitarian needs; and to support their peaceful progress, security and prosperity so that soon they may earn a respected place in the community of nations.
5.38 pm
Lord Black of Brentwood: My Lords, we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for raising this important subject. I would certainly echo the very appropriate comments from my noble friend Lady Williams. As I want to talk about freedom of expression, I draw attention to my media interests in the register.
The words of President Franklin D Roosevelt in his address to Congress in 1941 are probably some of his best known. It seems appropriate to talk about an American President in a stirring speech to Congress on a day like this. He looked forward to a world in which there were four fundamental freedoms. The first of these was freedom of expression, in his words “everywhere in the world”. For the benighted people of North Korea this most fundamental of human rights does not exist in any way and is not in prospect in any way. While South Korea has a relatively free press with near universal internet use-indeed it is one of the most connected in the entire world-North Korea remains the most repressive and isolated media environment in the world.
The regime owns all media, attempts to regulate all communication and ruthlessly limits access to information. Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists based in Washington place it right at the bottom of the international press freedom leagues, languishing alongside Eritrea.
All information is distributed by the Government across radio and TV, which deliver a centrally composed message bombarding the population with flattering reports about their leaders, and never mentioning the economic hardship, the famine or the malnutrition-which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford mentioned- all of which blight the country.
Radio and TV sets are supplied pre-tuned to government stations, and radios must be registered with the police. Neighbourhood officials-I use the word advisedly-verify the government seals. Tampering with a set can result in the perpetrator being sent to a concentration camp. Under the penal code, listening to foreign broadcasts or reading so-called dissident publications are “crimes against the state” that carry terrible punishments including hard labour or, in some circumstances, the death penalty. According to Freedom House, the international free speech watchdog, in 2010 alone more than 1,000 people were arrested for possessing or watching foreign films acquired on the black market.

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There is no such thing, of course, as independent journalism. Journalism students are taught to adhere to a strict hierarchy, with news simply defined as championing socialism and denouncing imperialism. Ideological training takes place once a week for journalists for the duration of their career. Even then, despite these remarkable controls, there is a danger. According to one author, Ashlee Male:
“A mere typing error can result in a journalist being taken to … a ‘revolutionisation’ camp'”,
for re-education. One such journalist, Song Keum-chul, was sent to a concentration camp a number of years ago and has never been heard of again.
As we have heard, any form of contact with the outside world is rigorously controlled. Mobile phone use was permitted only in 2008, having been banned in 2004, but most of the 1.5 million mobile phones-and that is a tiny number in a country of 24 million-are in the hands of the country’s political, commercial and military elite. North Korea’s full connection to the internet occurred only in 2010, but for ordinary citizens web access is available only through a nationwide intranet that does not link to foreign sites.
All this means that North Korea is totally isolated. As Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said after a recent visit to the country-mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton:
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world … It will make it harder for them to catch up economically”.
That seems to be the crucial point, because freedom of expression is the foundation stone for economic growth.
The only glimmer of light is that very tiny cracks in this repressive regime are reportedly beginning to appear. A study released by InterMedia in Washington last year, entitled A Quiet Opening, finds that access to external media through bootlegged TV and smuggled foreign DVDs is becoming more commonplace in the countryside outside Pyongyang, despite the risks that we have heard about from the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. There is a little more mobile access through the use of smuggled mobile phones. The report concludes:
“Despite the incredibly low starting point, important changes in the information environment in North Korean society are underway”.
In Japan, an organisation called Asia Press is training journalists and providing them with video cameras to record daily life in North Korea. The images are loaded on to memory sticks and then smuggled out through the porous border with China into Japan for wider broadcast. These are admittedly tiny cracks, but I hope that the national media-and we have heard about the role of the BBC World Service today-with encouragement from our Government and international organisations can nurse and expand on them in years to come. For every dam burst, a tiny crack is always the starting point.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, said, the flow of information in a country like this is absolutely crucial and we should do anything we can to encourage it. I ask my noble friend to ensure that the issue of free expression continues to be at the top of our human rights agenda for the tragic people of North Korea, for they deserve no less than that.

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5.45 pm
Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I serve as an officer on the North Korea All-Party Parliamentary Group which the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, chairs so ably. It will, alas, become clear that this membership has not given me any fluency in the Korean language. I intend to focus my remarks on the rule of law-or the lack of it-in North Korea, but I also want to mention the question of religious freedom.
My noble friend will know that 179 former North Korean political prisoners and defectors recently wrote to the foreign ministers of a number of UN countries appealing for their Governments to support an international inquiry into crimes against humanity in the DPRK. A remarkable coalition of almost 50 human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Human Rights Watch and the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, endorsed this request. I join the noble Lord, Lord Alton, in asking my noble friend to outline consideration given to that proposal for an international inquiry.
Will she also outline how Her Majesty’s Government have responded to calls from the United Nations for individual states such as the United Kingdom to shine a light on what we all agree are systematic and heinous violations of human rights, which may possibly be the worst in the world? This request chimes with the welcome remarks of my right honourable friend William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, in calling for human rights to be a central strand of this country’s foreign policy.
In October, Dr Marzuki Darusman, the current UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-an ironic title-presented his latest report to the General Assembly of the UN. He stated that,
“for several decades egregious human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have been extensively documented by various actors, including organizations of the United Nations system”.
He called for a much more rigorous approach by the international community in collating, assessing and acting upon the evidence of widespread abuses of human rights.
As the coalition of human rights organisations has said, the time is long past for an urgent, thorough, independent and impartial international investigation of the system of political prisoner camps known as kwan-li-so, in which gross violations of human rights, including torture, forced labour, sexual violence and executions, are widespread and systematic. All of these have been extensively documented and highlighted during evidence-taking sessions by the All-Party Group on North Korea. Although it is 60 years since the armistice was agreed, the human consequences of the Korean War still, unfortunately, reverberate. Just before Christmas, two of the families of Korean War abductees visited Westminster. Even after the passage of so much time, these families have still not come to terms with the abduction of their loved ones.
A separate group also gave evidence to members of the all-party group about an abduction which occurred in 1969. Lee Mi-il’s father, Lee Seong-hwan, was one

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of an estimated 100,000 people who were abducted by the North Koreans during the course of hostilities and never allowed to return to their families. Mr Lee and his family had been trapped in their apartment after the North Koreans captured Seoul and blew up the Han River bridge. On 4 September 1950 a North Korean major came for Mr Lee, accused him of giving money to those fighting the communists, and took him away. His wife, who was heavily pregnant with their second child and is now in her 90s, has never seen him again or heard any news about his fate. She has spent a lifetime waiting for him to return. Her daughter says:
“My mother says she has given up hope of seeing him before she dies, but I know she still has hope in her heart”.
Mrs Lee’s story is one of several testimonies contained in a short book with the well chosen title, Ongoing Tragedy.
In the report that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, published two years ago, Building Bridges Not Walls, they set out the case for a systematic approach based on upholding human rights and the rule of law. They have helped to encourage a growing international consensus around this objective, and it was encouraging to see, for the first time, the adoption of the annual resolution on North Korea at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012. More recently, in November 2012, the UN General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee also adopted the annual North Korea resolution by consensus for the first time ever. This shows increasing international resolve and momentum, but still more needs to be done, not least because, despite those resolutions, North Korea has failed to change its repressive policies.
Let me also say that part of the remit should be an examination of religious persecution in North Korea. Here I remind the House of my interest as chairman of the All-Party Group on International Religious Freedom. As the right reverend Prelate outlined, North Korea is bottom of the table for religious repression and has been for 11 consecutive years. A senior defector remarked:
“The North Korean authorities put defectors in different categories according to the reason they left. Those who bring a Bible back or have been involved with Christians in China tend to be executed”.
Religious Intelligence UK estimates that there are 406,000 Christians in North Korea, and a possible further 280,000 secret Christians. None of these statistics is verifiable, but what is verifiable is the fate of those who practise their faith.
In 2011, reports detailed a further campaign of execution against Christians in North Korea. At least 20 Christians were arrested and sent to the Yodok political prison camp for their faith. When the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and noble Baroness, Lady Cox, raised these reports, North Korean officials said that they were “lies” and that the execution of Christians was “impossible”. Compare that response with the evidence given here in Parliament by a Christian woman who escaped from one of the camps. Jeon Young-Ok had to undertake risky expeditions across the North Korean border to find money and food for her children, who were suffering in the deadly famine of the 1990s.

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She was caught and jailed twice in her efforts to feed her family. Mrs Jeon was caught and put in the northern Pyeong-an detention camp. She recalled:
“We were made to pull the beards from the faces of elderly people. Prison guards treated them like animals. The women were forced to strip. A group of us were thrown just one blanket and we were forced to pull it from one another as we tried to hide our shame. I felt like an animal, no better than a pig. I didn’t want to live”.
Jeon Young-Ok added:
“They tortured the Christians the most. They were denied food and sleep. They were forced to stick out their tongues and iron was pushed into it”.
Despite all this, she harbours no hatred for her country and shows extraordinary composure when she states:
“The past is not important but these terrible things are still happening in North Korea”.
That is why we must act.
The international community, which for so long has appeared indifferent to the fate of women such as Jeon Young-Ok should remind itself of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s warning:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil”.
Bonhoeffer perished at the hands of the Nazi regime that was responsible for racial cleansing, slave labour, brutal torture, the disregard of lawful process and manifold abuses of human rights. Too many people turned a blind eye to all that. Our generation should not be guilty of making the same mistake.
5.53 pm
Lord Kerr of Kinlochard:The reason that I so much admire the persistence of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on North Korea is because I share his view that ostracism is not the answer. I was the negotiator on the opening of diplomatic relations with the DPRK and I visited Pyongyang to open an embassy there. I do not think that was wrong. It seems to me that however awful the regime and its human rights record- it is awful, and its human rights record is awful-it cannot be the right answer to break off contact. The object of the exercise must be to find ways of incentivising reform. This means doing business with a very unpleasant regime, and there are no easy answers.
As the right reverend Prelate said, food aid is a difficult issue. One knows that most food aid goes not to the intended recipients but to the armed forces. The industrial zone, Kaesong, is a difficult issue. It generates employment but the foreign exchange it brings in serves to prop up the regime.
We should take our lead from Seoul, which clearly wants-it must, as they are relatives, friends and the same people-reform in the north as much or more than anybody else, and has more right to demand it. However, it does not want the implosion of the state. It does not want revolutionary change. It would like to see a staged reform process. This may sound idealistic but there have been one or two little signs in the changes to the current regime in Pyongyang that we ought to be trying very hard to encourage.
I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for instituting this debate-and I am very grateful to him and to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for all that they do. Contact really matters, even if often one meets people with whom one thinks one is making no progress whatever. Ostracism is not enough.

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5.56 pm
Lord Triesman: My Lords, it is really important to debate this issue and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the chairman of the all-party group, for providing the opportunity. He, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and others, as many noble Lords have said, have often made it possible for us to give witness to crimes against humanity, inhuman conduct, humanitarian abuses and religious persecution. All of these have been graphically described by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, and by the noble Baronesses, Lady Cox and Lady Berridge. I share the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, that to make these visits and to say what is said requires very great courage. I admire that and have recently also been reading about Father Jerry Hammond and understand that kind of courage as well.
Sometimes it is painful to admit that terrible events occur in places where the United Kingdom has very little influence. It is not because we are indifferent to these matters but because of the historical position. We rightly demand to know what the Government are doing and what they have done. Ministers routinely, as I know, end up saying that they have raised all these concerns on all possible occasions, sometimes in the company of others. We all welcome this activity because we want to see it but in the same breath we sometimes have to acknowledge that we have a limited impact.
Nonetheless, I am wholly aligned with the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the right reverend Prelate and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and I think that what they have demanded of us, quite rightly, is that we never look away and that we always take the positions that are needed strongly. I also greatly admire the positions taken on a number of occasions by my right honourable friend Douglas Alexander. One of the positions he has taken, if I may just make this point to the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, is about the absence of the rule of law and the importance of trying to argue on that front as well as about religious intolerance and repression.
The Question rightly draws together humanitarian crises and security. The dynamics of the internal oppression in North Korea are generated in large part by the belligerence of the state on regional and perhaps international scenes. It is surely a function of the grandiose posturing of the leaders of a small, militarised and impoverished state feeling the need to shore up their power internally that they will brook no opposition or alternative systems of thought, culture or media-as the noble Lord, Lord Black, quite rightly pointed out-or religion, art or indeed anything. It is a manifestation of a kind of paranoia, a fear of internal close-at-hand phenomena undermining them and a wildly exaggerated sense of importance, which I am afraid, some dynastic cults manage to produce among themselves. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, it is in part a product of a terrible history. It has given rise to what I can only describe as a pathology. The nation should reflect, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford said, on the issues of morality but I say with a heavy heart that I do not expect that to happen any time soon.

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Yet, however grotesque or even absurd North Korean positions are, it is a problem which is far too large for the world to ignore. The critical question is who can potentially influence events. Who might impact on the risk of a growing nuclear arsenal? Who might successfully urge the end of the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles? It seems unlikely that the North Koreans will influence these matters themselves. Their dynastic leader is perceived to be unprepared for leadership and unable, even were he willing, to corral his father’s allies. This may well produce greater internal instability, which is capable of being translated into external aggression. Indeed, it is only the routine acts of local antagonism to neighbours that we can count on as the certainties: the intercontinental rocket launch that effectively ended the huge aid mission of the United States, the leap-day deal; and the links with Iran over that rocketry. I have no doubt, as has been said, that they will make progress on it. They will have the equivalent of a Kahn in rocketry and nuclear weapons, the influence of a Werner von Braun in missiles. They will find that kind of leverage.
There are threats of further nuclear tests: a third nuclear test possibly in the very near future. There has been the sinking of a South Korean warship and the bombardment of a South Korean island. There is the threat of spreading nuclear weapons, as noble Lords have mentioned, to rogue states, terrorists and non-state actors. There are the alleged cyber-attacks, denied by Pyongyang, on civil aircraft GPS guidance, although I think there is probably reasonable evidence that it happened. The sequence of provocations cannot be in any sense accidental.
Can South Korea influence events? I hope so. In an extensive and revealing interview with Al-Jazeera, President Park’s closest associate at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies said that she had been principled, resolute and determined to keep her promises to achieve greater reconciliation and influence. Yet the rocket launch has become a major security concern. President Park stressed that it underlined the urgency for more diplomacy. I applaud that. However, she also notes that North Korea’s determination to sustain its nuclear programme and defy UN resolutions make it difficult. Indeed, the regime in North Korea has not only denounced her in the most unflattering terms, but described her predecessor in the past five years as bringing “nightmare, despair and catastrophe” to the region.
The United Sates has probably played, at least for the time being, the key diplomatic cards available to it to achieve the short-lived leap-day deal, which has now melted away. If I am right, and in the light of the lack of any progress, the various collapses of the six-plus-one talks inevitably raises the question of the role of China. United States and Chinese assessments may be linked in a somewhat paradoxical way. The United States appears to believe that influence could be created by aid and the support of humanitarian projects. In short, North Korea would become dependent on the relationship. The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, asked whether building bridges might be the right way or creating dependence as part of the same strategy. The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, rightly argued the same point just a moment ago.

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It is not easy to read the Chinese thinking, but they may have concluded that, over long years, a relatively chaotic client will come to depend on the one steadfast friend it can probably count on: one source of trade, one source of military cover, one source of diplomatic umbrella, and a very powerful regional power to boot. It may be thought that this creates a kind of marginal stability which is better than anything else on offer. If that is right, the strategic choices of the United States and China are diametrically different. If the views remain this dissonant, then the prospects for much progress are probably poor.
China is investing in North Korea. Surplus military equipment flows to the country. There may well be technical experts working on the North Korean rocketry. All these approaches must cause us anxiety and perplexity. I believe that we need a clear sign from China: perhaps a vote in the United Nations will be that sign. Most of all, the approaches seem at odds with China’s own economic trajectory and its growing rise into a role as a world power in international institutions.
I ask whether the Government share any part of this assessment; whether they believe that there is an alternative dialogue into which life can be breathed; and whether the approach of the six-plus-one nations may be revivified in a more viable form. I also ask what is open to us beyond being the honest witnesses that I described at the beginning of my speech and the advocates for the victims of the appalling humanitarian crimes.
6.05 pm
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, for calling this debate and for the active role that he has played in raising the profile of North Korean issues in Parliament. He absolutely deserves the plaudits that he has received from across the House today. Noble Lords clearly share our concerns about the North Korean security threat, and the appalling human rights and humanitarian situation there.
Let me start by setting out the Government’s assessment of the current situation in North Korea. Kim Jong-un has now been in power for more than a year. Over the past 12 months there has been intense speculation as to whether this new, young, western-educated man will lead positive change in North Korea. We have certainly seen some changes in style: greater openness about his family life, more public appearances and a surprise new year’s speech claiming that North Korea wants to improve relations with South Korea, and will focus on improving its economy. It could be the distant hope to which my noble friend Lady Williams referred. However, whether any of these statements will lead to real changes for the people of North Korea remains to be seen.
North Korea remains a significant security concern. It tried twice to launch satellites in 2012, in both cases allowing it to test its ballistic missile technology in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. The success of the second satellite launch, in particular, serves as a reminder that North Korea

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poses a real and severe threat to international peace and security. I add my support to much of what we heard from my noble friend Lady Williams. The UK simply cannot accept repeated violations of Security Council resolutions by the Government of Pyongyang. It was right that the UN responded to April’s satellite launch with a strongly-worded UN Security Council Presidential Statement. We are working closely with Security Council colleagues to respond to the launch which took place in December.
North Korea also continues to sell its dangerous technology to any willing buyer worldwide, presenting a broader risk to peace and security. The UK continues to work with international partners to ensure that current sanctions are rigorously implemented but, as the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea noted in its most recent report, more needs to be done to help others with implementation.
Noble Lords will be aware of the speculation that the South Korean President-elect, Park Guen-hye, wants to pursue dialogue with North Korea during her five-year presidency. The UK would welcome improvements in inter-Korean relations and would welcome in particular the resumption of negotiations on the denuclearisation of North Korea. However, repeated provocative acts by North Korea have made it difficult for others to engage in negotiations. We are therefore concentrating our diplomatic efforts on urging North Korea to refrain from further provocations and to take concrete steps to engage in constructive dialogue. However, the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, is right when he says that we must always be looking for opportunities in terms of who and what can influence the North Koreans.
The nuclear issue is of enormous concern to the international community but, as noble Lords have set out so clearly, we must not lose sight of the situation of the people who live in North Korea. Food deprivation and malnutrition were referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford.
As your Lordships are well aware, North Korea has some of the most repressive controls on civil and political rights in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, referred to the well publicised memoirs of Shin Dong-hyuk, which have shown that the conditions for political prisoners are truly shocking. Individual stories repeated in the House today again have shocked many of us.
I remain deeply concerned about the policies of some countries that, in breach of UN conventions, continue to repatriate North Korean asylum seekers. The UK has taken a leading role in ensuring that North Korean human rights abuses have been highlighted in international fora. We co-sponsor the annual UN General Assembly resolution on human rights in North Korea. This year it was passed without a vote-a significant first. As an EU member state we co-sponsor the annual Human Rights Council resolution and have been actively lobbying North Korea to allow the UN special rapporteur access to the country.
We are actively considering with UN partners whether there is anything more that we can do to encourage North Korea to change its policy on human rights. The UK has also undertaken small-scale work in-country

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to improve the treatment of vulnerable groups. One area where we have seen some positive developments in North Korea is in the situation of people with disabilities. Due to severe social stigma, 10 years ago it was unusual to see a disabled person on the streets of Pyongyang; now this is a commonplace. Last year, the British embassy in Pyongyang provided funding for training at a deaf school in Wonsan. We also assisted the North Korean authorities in sending swimmer Rim Ju Song, the country’s first Paralympian, to London in 2012. Of course, North Korea is very far from meeting international human rights standards. However, the achievements to date in the way in which people with disabilities are perceived and treated is one small progress.
We also have concerns about the humanitarian situation in North Korea. Assessments by the World Food Programme confirm that there remain chronic levels of malnutrition. There also appears to be a widening gulf between the visible relative affluence of Pyongyang and appalling conditions elsewhere in the country. The UK contributes funding to organisations operating in North Korea. Between 2011 and 2014 we will contribute £100 million to the World Food Programme’s global budget and we also contributed a fifth of the Central Emergency Response Fund’s £15.4 million funding for North Korea. The British embassy in Pyongyang has also worked with the North Korean authorities on a number of small-scale humanitarian projects, including a project to provide a safe source of soybean milk to young children. The embassy also sponsored a visit to the UK to provide training for North Korean doctors treating spinal injuries and providing rehabilitation.
However, despite this work, we are clear that the North Korean Government bear significant responsibility for their failure to feed their people adequately. Of particular concern is the prioritisation of resources to the military. This year North Korea has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding its satellite programme while simultaneously seeking aid. This money could have been spent on improving the critical infrastructure, which could have made it easier to transport food around the country, or, simply-as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said-on food. We must continue to be clear to North Korea that it cannot just rely on aid from the international community. It needs to take measures to ensure that the right conditions are in place so all of the resources that it has available, including any aid, can be used most effectively, and it must give real and tangible priority to improving the humanitarian situation of its people.
If Kim Jong-un delivers on his new year’s promise to improve the economic situation, the UK would warmly welcome this. We will focus our diplomatic efforts in the next 12 months on promoting the benefits of economic development in North Korea. However, we will not provide North Korea with development assistance over and above what we are currently providing until its Government demonstrate that they are ready to take concrete steps towards reform.
The noble Lord, Lord Alton, raised the issue of the BBC World Service in North Korea. This is primarily a matter for the BBC World Service, under the terms

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of the broadcasting agreement. However, I am aware that the BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks will be speaking to the APPG on North Korea later this week and I am sure that matter will be raised with him.
My noble friend Lord Black of Brentwood made a fascinating and well informed contribution. I agree with his assessment of restrictions on freedom of expression. Our concerns were reflected in the General Assembly resolution, which we co-sponsored. The British embassy in Pyongyang continuously tries to find ways in which to expose the North Korean people to the outside world-simple steps. For example, in 2010 we secured the broadcast of “Bend it Like Beckham”; we have a British Council English-language teacher training programme, and in 2012 we sent the first two achievement scholars to the UK.
The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, talked about diplomatic relations with North Korea. The UK advocates a policy of critical engagement with North Korea. Engagement is the best way of communicating our views and ensuring that our messages on human rights and proliferation are understood.
My noble friend Lady Berridge, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, raised the issue of the commission of inquiry. At the Australia-UK ministerial consultations on 18 January, the Foreign Secretary and the Australian Foreign Minister committed to looking at what more can be done to improve the effectiveness of UN mechanisms, including around the issue of the commission of inquiry.
The noble Lord, Lord Alton, raised the issue of prison camps. We regularly raise this issue when we have the opportunity. We are also consulting with international partners in advance of the Human Rights Council meeting in March. As he is aware, given the significance of the abuse, unfortunately the DPRK still refuses to engage in serious dialogue or provide any access on this issue. The noble Lord also raised the issue of repatriation of North Korean refugees from China. We believe that people who have escaped

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from DPRK are entitled to protection under the international Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. We regularly raise this matter with the Chinese Government and encourage them to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, raised the issue of UN mechanisms and whether North Korea has accepted assistance from the UN to engage with UN mechanisms. We are not aware of this, but the UK Government have also offered assistance in relation to North Korea’s engagement with UN mechanisms. Again, we have not received a positive response.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford and my noble friend Lady Berridge raised the issue of persecutions of Christians in North Korea. We continue to have concerns about the persecution of people in North Korea because of their religious beliefs, and these concerns were highlighted in the 2012 United Nations General Assembly resolution. We regularly raise these concerns; we both raised and detailed how many individuals have tragically paid with their lives for simply having a faith. It is also important to note, in today’s debate, how many noble Lords who have taken part in the past have spoken of the importance of faith and of their faith.
In conclusion, I am grateful to noble Lords for their contribution to this evening’s debate. We do not expect change in North Korea to come overnight. It is therefore vital that we maintain the conversation on what can be done to encourage North Korea to embark on a positive path towards change. It is also important that the North Korean authorities see firsthand the concerns that have been raised by noble Lords here today, and I therefore ask Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Pyongyang, Michael Gifford, to draw the Hansard report of this debate to the attention of the North Korean Government. If there are any specific questions which I have failed to answer in summing up, I shall make sure that officials write. If they do not, please catch me in the Lobbies, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said, and I shall make sure that it happens.
House adjourned at 6.18 pm.