South Korean President Roh's visit to Washington DC has been occasion for various human rights activists and religious figures to speak out about US and South Korean policy toward North Korea. Human rights activist Norbert Vollertsen, who has travelled extensively in North Korea, accuses the South Korean government of trying to cover up the extent of the atrocities committed by the North Korean regime.
"It's genocide what's going on in North Korea," he said. "And as a former human right lawyer, I should expect even one comment about the situation in North Korea. There was nothing. We were very much disappointed."
He says the South Korean government does not want to publicly recognize the atrocities committed in the North. He accuses the South of trying to silence Northern refugees who have defected to China, Vietnam and other countries.
Dr Vollerston said: "Mr Roh Moon-hyun, during his visit as President of South Korea, and as a former human rights lawyer, was not talking about these children in North Korea. These are human rights violations, it's genocide what's going on in North Korea, and as a former human rights lawyer, I should expect at least one comment about the situation in North Korea. There was nothing."
Separately, religious leaders and human rights activists have released a letter arguing the South Korean government does not want to see the collapse of the North Korean regime.
"We are further troubled that South Korean officials have sought to maintain the Pyongyang regime in power because they fear that South Korea's economy would be harmed were the people of North Korea to become free," the letter said.
The activists, led by a powerful coalition of conservative Christian churches, political pressure groups close to the Republican Party and human rights advocates, want to pressure the United States into pursuing a more aggressive policy to change the North Korean regime.
The text of letter to President Bush by major conservative figures pushes for a harder line toward North Korea for human rights reasons.
The visit of South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun poses challenges, and great opportunities, for the administration’s historic march towards human rights, religious freedom and democracy – and for its post-9/11 campaign to banish the specter of terrorism and terrorist blackmail.
We are concerned that President Roh has recently characterized the policy of openly confronting Pyongyang’s brutal and inhuman conduct towards its own people as “an obstacle … to peace.” We are further troubled that South Korean officials have sought to maintain the Pyongyang regime in power because they fear that South Korea’s economy would be harmed were the people of North Korea to become free.
We call on you to reject any policy counsel based on such views.
We believe that silence towards the Pyongyang regime’s vast system of gulags, towards the death sentences it imposes on dissidents and religious believers, and towards the mass starvation it imposes on all but its favored élites, is neither an honorable nor a prudent option. We believe – as did President Reagan in his dealings with the former Soviet Union – that tyrannical regimes are always more fragile and subject to internal collapse than their blustering postures make them seem to be.
We are confident that you share these views. We applaud the stand you have taken and hope that you will reject any call to further subsidize or legitimize the Pyongyang regime. Instead, we hope you will urge President Roh to join you in publicly calling for a speedy end to the oppression and suffering of the people of North Korea.
We call on you to give voice to desperate cries for freedom from the tormented people of North Korea. By so doing, we are confident, you will again advance the linked causes of freedom and security for the world at large.
Among the signatories: Chuck Colson, Michael Horowitz, Diane Knippers, Father Richard John Neuhaus, Paul M. Weyrich, and Michael Novak.
“We cannot be silent in the face of the most repressive nation on earth,” said IRD President Diane Knippers at a press conference held at the Hudson Institute today. “Silence regarding North Korea’s tyranny is a betrayal of the hopes and ideals of all humankind – a tragic rejection of the hard-won commitments to universal human rights.”
Knippers directly addressed concerns some have raised about military and economic security in confronting North Korea’s human rights violations. “Respect for human rights and for human dignity never undercuts security or economic justice,” Knippers said. No regime which treats its own people with such disregard can be expected to act in accord with international norms on other issues, Knippers explained. “Indeed, a nation’s internal record of respect for human rights is the single most reliable predictor of that nation’s external intentions and integrity.”
Michael Horowitz, a human rights activist and signatory to the letter, had hope for the people living under the violent oppression of the Kim Jong Il regime. He predicted that the North Korean regime will implode, asserting, “The human spirit is alive, even in North Korea.”
The South Korean government's appeasement policy toward North Korea requires that it avoid stating the obvious. Since that policy helps to support the continued existence of the North Korean regime it simultaneously condemns the North Koreans to suffer and to have their suffering be ignored by many South Koreans.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 May 17 02:50 AM Korea|