The appearance of two North Korean defectors before MPs and European officials in Britain was timed to bring maximum public pressure on the North Korean government before its human rights record is scrutinized for the first time by the UN human rights council in Geneva.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which organized the European visit, says that there is a prima facie case that Kim Jong-il's regime has committed crimes against humanity and possibly acts of genocide against religious groups, specifically Christians.
"[North Korean refugees] have experienced suffering and deprivation on a scale that we cannot begin to imagine," said Tina Lambert, CSW's advocacy director. "Their testimony comes at a crucial time, prior to the UN scrutiny of North Korea."
The CSW is calling for a commission of inquiry by the UN to investigate crimes against humanity in North Korea. The UN rapporteur for North Korea, Vitit Muntarbhorn, last month issued a scathing report of North Korea's human rights record, declaring that the "exploitation of the ordinary people" had become "the pernicious prerogative of the ruling elite".
[Excerpt of a Guardian article]