Friday, June 22, 2007

Call North Korea to account, urges charity

North Korea’s ruling regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and should be called to account by the international community, a Christian human rights group said on Tuesday.

Its report, based on interviews with 80 North Korean former political prisoners and prison guards, comes amid fresh signs that Beijing is cracking down on North Koreans trying to flee across the border into China, a move ascribed to preparations for next year’s Olympic games.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a London-based non-governmental organisation, said action was urgently needed to redress the “glaring disparity” between the scale and seriousness of rights violations in North Korea and the international community’s limited and largely ineffectual response.

Meanwhile humanitarian workers who have recently visited the border between North Korea and China say there are “very alarming” signs of increased security on both sides of the Tumen river that separates the two countries.

Tim Peters of the humanitarian organisation Helping Hands, which helps North Koreans escape to safety, said he saw a sharp rise in the number of soldiers and guard dogs patrolling the border in late April.

“It looks like China is trying to quash any attempts by North Koreans to cross the border as part of their damage control before next year’s Olympics,” he said.

[Excerpt of an article by Anna Fifield, The Financial Times]

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