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North Korean defectors share human rights violations in country at United Nations: Report

By TOI World Desk

March 18, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

NEW DELHI: North Korean defectors shared their harrowing experiences at a UN event in Geneva, calling attention to human rights violations in their home country. One defector described North Korea as 'hell' and urged for a stronger UN mandate to investigate these abuses, reports Fox News.The defectors gathered in Geneva where the UN Human Rights Council will review a motion led by the EU to enhance scrutiny.

This motion aims to provide an update to a significant 2014 report that uncovered serious abuses amounting to crimes against humanity.Kim, who fled North Korea, recounted his 15-year journey to escape to South Korea by boat last year. Fearing punishment for escaping, he brought his pregnant wife and his father's ashes. He spoke of being harassed by authorities, facing food confiscation, and struggling to survive under COVID-19 restrictions.'I was so angry that I couldn't do anything in this country. I couldn't live in this hell,' Kim.

Another defector, Kyu Li Kim, who swam across the Tumen River to China in 1997, expressed concern for her sister's safety after being arrested and sent back to North Korea from China last year. She feared her sister might meet a fate similar to their brother, who died in jail in 2003.North Korea has denied allegations of rights abuses, dismissing UN investigations as interference in its internal affairs. Human Rights Watch and other civil society groups are advocating for a new UN report, citing China's forcible return of around 500 North Korean escapees, putting them at risk of forced labor or execution.US ambassador Michele Taylor, present at the meeting, assured support to the defectors, vowing to amplify their pleas for help. She also called on China to fulfill its legal obligations.In response, China stated in October that there were no North Korean defectors in the country and that those who entered illegally for economic reasons were dealt with according to the law.


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