La pandemia COVID-19 podría ser una oportunidad para salvar vidas norcoreanas, si Moon Jae-in toma medidas

Por Benedict Rogers

Corea del Norte está gobernada por el régimen más represivo y brutal del mundo, el cual no permite ninguna libertad, y viola cada uno de los artículos de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos todos los días. También es la nación más cerrada del mundo, extremadamente difícil de entrar o salir. Aquellos que lo hacen, como yo lo he hecho una vez, son estrechamente vigilados y controlados, mientras que los que tratan de salir del país sin permiso se enfrentan a prisión, tortura e incluso ejecución si son capturados.

La pandemia COVID-19 ha servido para endurecer aún más las restricciones al acceso. Al igual que muchos países que se preocupan por el coronavirus, Corea del Norte ha cerrado sus fronteras. La embajada de Gran Bretaña en la Ciudad de Pyongyang está cerrada desde el 27 de mayo, el Embajador Colin Crooks expreso en su cuenta de Twitter: “Trabajando desde Londres a la espera de mi regreso a Pyongyang”. Y la semana pasada, el régimen norcoreano advirtió a sus ciudadanos que se deben quedarse en el interior de sus casas por temor a que un “polvo amarillo” que soplara desde China pudiera traer coronavirus con él. El llamado “Reino hermético” se ha convertido en la nación “herméticamente cerrada”.

Y sin embargo, esto ofrece una rara oportunidad para salvar vidas, porque debido a las restricciones debido al COVID-19, Corea del Norte ha dicho a China que no recibirá la repatriación de los fugitivos norcoreanos. En tiempos normales, China tiene una política de retorno a la fuerza de los norcoreanos que escapan a través de su frontera, enviándolos de vuelta a la prisión de ciertas torturas, detenciones y, en algunos casos, ejecución, en flagrante violación del principio internacional de “no devolución”. Ahora, el régimen de Kim Jong-Un dice, que no los recibirá.

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The COVID-19 pandemic could be an opportunity to save North Korean lives, if Moon Jae-In takes action

By Benedict Rogers

North Korea is ruled by the world’s most repressive, most brutal regime – one which does not allow any freedom whatsoever, one which violates every single article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every day. It is also the world’s most closed nation – extremely difficult to get in or out of. Those who do visit – as I have done once – are tightly monitored and controlled, while those who try to leave the country without permission face imprisonment, torture and even execution if caught.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served to tighten the restrictions on access even further. Like many countries dealing with coronavirus, North Korea has sealed its borders. Britain’s embassy in Pyongyang has been closed since 27 May, with Ambassador Colin Crooks stating on his Twitter page: “Working from London pending my return to Pyongyang.” And last week, the North Korean regime warned its citizens to stay indoors over fears that a “yellow dust” blowing in from China could bring coronavirus with it. The so-called “hermit kingdom” has become the “hermetically sealed” nation.

And yet this offers a rare opportunity to save lives, because due to its COVID-19 restrictions, North Korea has told China it will not receive repatriation of North Korean escapees. In normal times, China has a policy of forcibly returning North Koreans who escape across its border, sending them back to face certain torture, detention and in some cases execution – in flagrant breach of the international principle of ‘non-refoulement.’ Now, Kim Jong-Un’s regime says it does not want them.

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Instead of gossiping about the Kim dynasty, the world should focus on North Korea’s human rights atrocities

By Benedict Rogers

One of the very few non-COVID-19 stories that hit the headlines last month was the rumoured near-death of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Un. For almost three weeks the speculation grew that he was dying or had died, and the discussion around who would succeed him reached near-fever pitch. Would it be his sister Kim Yo-jong? But would conservative North Korea be ready for a female leader? Would it be a senior military leader? But then what would that do to the regime’s credibility in the eyes of the North Korean people, if the Kim dynastic succession was broken?

But then, almost as mysteriously as he disappeared, the man known as “the Dear Leader” re-emerged, opening a fertilizer plant outside Pyongyang. Precisely what had happened remains known only to the core leadership of the world’s most secretive state. There was no shortage of rumours. It was suggested that he may have had surgery, that he may have had coronavirus, that he may simply have escaped Pyongyang to avoid infection and even that he had been injured in a missile test. But will we ever know?

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Save North Korean Refugees Day: Time to End China’s Illegal and Horrific Treatment of North Korean Escapees

Save North Korean Refugees Day, which falls on 24 September, aims to highlight the terrible trials faced by North Korean refugees in China.

It also marks the day, 36 years ago, that China became a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, an agreement the country continues to violate through its treatment of North Korean escapees.

China’s forced repatriation of North Korean refugees is illegal as it violates the fundamental international humanitarian principle of ‘non-refoulement’, which prohibits receiving countries from returning refugees to a country where they would likely face persecution due to their “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.

And yet, that is exactly what they are being sent back to: North Korea is one of the world’s most repressive regimes, referred to by the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry as “a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world” in terms of human rights violations. CSW’s 2016 report previously revealed that deported escapees regularly face execution, torture, arbitrary detention, deliberate starvation, illegal cavity searches, forced abortions, and other sexual violence at the hands of the North Korean authorities.

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Human Rights Must be Included in Talks to Ensure True Peace in North Korea

Just over a week ago, US President Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-Un, leader of the world’s most repressive regime which has been accused by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry of “crimes against humanity”. It was historic – the first time a sitting American President and a North Korean dictator had met face-to-face.

On the surface, in words attributed to Winston Churchill, “jaw jaw” has to be better than “war war”. It is good that the two men have moved from talk of “fire and fury” and whose nuclear button is bigger to discussion of denuclearisation, peace and prosperity. Perhaps a new era may be dawning.

However, one very fundamental issue seemed to be missing from the agenda: the human rights of the people of North Korea.

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