Thursday, November 17, 2005

Call for Bush to Focus on North Korea's Human Rights Record

As the world focuses on North Korea's nuclear program, human rights activists say not enough attention is being paid to Pyongyang's human rights violations.

A new U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report, called Thank You, Father Kim Il Sung, refers to the harsh and absolute cult of personality surrounding the late North Korean leader. Author David Hawk said the report relies on eyewitness accounts from North Korean defectors and largely details religious persecution.

"There are people who continue to be imprisoned for their religious beliefs, quite a number of people who are punished because of their religious beliefs." he said.

Mr. Hawk called on President Bush to raise the issue of human rights in North Korea with South Korean and Chinese leaders. He said he especially thinks U.S. concerns should be conveyed to Seoul. "I think it would be extremely important, and in my own opinion, the most important element is for human rights to be put on the engagement agenda of South Koreans in their engagement policy with the North Koreans," he added.

The issue has been championed in the U.S. Congress, which last year passed the North Korea Human Rights Act.

[Excerpted from an article by Stephanie Ho, Voice of America]

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