West Highlights North Korean Rights Abuses; china opposes

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UNITED NATIONS — The United States, its Western allies and experts highlighted the dire human rights situation and escalating repression in North Korea at a UN meeting on Friday that China and Russia denounced as a politicized move likely to further escalate tensions in the Korean peninsula.

China blocked the US from broadcasting the informal Security Council meeting globally on the Internet, a move criticized by US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as an attempt to hide North Korea’s “atrocities” from the public. world.

Webcasting requires the agreement of all 15 council members. But the US envoy said Beijing’s effort was in vain because the meeting will be made public and the US and many others will continue to speak out against Pyongyang’s human rights abuses and threats to international peace.

James Turpin, a senior official with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula pose a threat to regional and international peace and security, and “these tensions are not they can separate themselves from the dire situation of human rights. in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, the official name of the North.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, North Korea has been in isolation. The United Nations has no international staff in the country, and Turpin said this “coincides with an increased crackdown on civil and political rights.”

He pointed to stricter government measures to prevent people from having access to information from the outside world, an extreme level of surveillance, people’s homes subjected to random searches for material not authorized by the state, and punishments for anyone who tries to exercise basic rights, including freedom of expression, religion and peaceful assembly.

Elizabeth Salmon, the UN special investigator on human rights in North Korea, also emphasized “the interdependence of international peace and security and human rights,” saying that peace and denuclearization cannot be addressed without considering violations of current human rights.

He told the meeting that the limited information available shows that the suffering of the North Korean people has increased and their already limited freedoms have diminished. Access to food, medicine and medical care remains a priority concern, “people have froze to death during the January cold snaps”, and some had no money to heat their homes while others were forced to live in the street because they sold their homes as a last resort.

Xing Jisheng, adviser to China’s UN Mission, criticized the United States for discussing human rights in the Security Council, whose mandate is to ensure international peace and security, saying it is “not constructive in any way.” Instead of easing the tension, he said, “it may rather escalate the conflict and therefore it is an irresponsible move.”

“Using UN WebTV for live broadcasting is a waste of UN resources,” Xing added, saying that if countries are really concerned about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the well-being of the people, they should work to relaunch dialogue, reduce tensions, and support the lifting of sanctions that affect the livelihood of North Koreans and the deterioration of the country’s humanitarian situation.

Stepan Kuzmenkov, senior adviser to Russia’s UN Mission, echoed China’s opposition to the Security Council discussing human rights, saying there was no reason to convene the meeting “which has a clear anti-Korea bias.” from North”.

He accused the US of using human rights “to settle scores with governments it doesn’t like” and condemned what he called “flows of disinformation” about North Korea spread by the US and its allies “with the pretext that they are trying to protect human rights.”

“What we see is that the United States, South Korea and Japan are engaging in aggressive militaristic activities, raising tensions in Northeast Asia and putting the security of countries in the region at risk,” Kuzmenov said. “The Americans are ignoring initiatives that would help ease tensions, as well as substantive and constructive signals that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un is sending, which could lead to a possible de-escalation.”

Thomas-Greenfield of the United States responded that “the regime’s widespread human rights abuses and threats to our collective security could not be clearer.”

North Korea’s ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs threaten international peace and security and are “inextricably linked to the regime’s human rights abuses,” it said.

“In the DPRK, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction always outweighs the human rights and humanitarian needs of its people,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

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