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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 29.12.2023

How China Games the Universal Periodic Review System

A United Nations review of China’s human rights record set to occur in January should shine a light on Beijing’s atrocity crimes. But there are three ways in which this Universal Periodic Review (UPR) may actually worsen rather than improve the human rights situation inside China. In 2006, the U.N. created the UPR, in which every U.N. member state must undergo an examination of its human rights performance every 4.5 years.

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Escaped North Koreans urge China to stop the ‘genocide’ of forced repatriation

They were brought together on a cold November morning by Beijing’s recent decision to send at least 500 North Korean escapees back to their homeland. Gathered in front of the gates of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, many were friends and relatives of those who have been forcibly repatriated in years past, and some of them had experienced the ordeal themselves. Those sent back on Oct. 9 would face almost certain punishment – torture, labor camp, sexual violence and even death, warned Human Rights Watch.

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Temu shoppers risk buying items made by forced labour, MP warns

Christmas shoppers ordering cheap gifts from Temu risk buying items made using forced labour, an MP has warned. The Chinese app, popular for its huge range of clothing, toys and gadgets at ultra low prices, was downloaded 19 million times in the UK in 2023. But Alicia Kearns, head of the foreign affairs select committee, told the BBC she'd "long been concerned about the rise of Temu and the risks it poses". Temu said it "strictly prohibits" the use of forced, penal, or child labour. The warning comes after a US government investigation found an "extremely high risk" that products sold on Temu could have been made with forced labour.

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UNHCR Urges China to Acknowledge and Address Mistreatment of North Korean Defectors

On December 27, 2023, a significant development unfolded within the international human rights community as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) formally addressed the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, urging China to acknowledge and address the grim predicament faced by individuals repatriated to North Korea after leaving the country without permission. This plea signals a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for human rights protection for North Korean defectors.

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Tibetans forced to celebrate Mao’s 130th birthday

Chinese authorities in Tibet forced locals to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth on Tuesday, crediting the late leader with “the peaceful liberation of Tibet” in 1950, which Tibetan authorities in exile consider an invasion and the start of an illegal annexation. Officials used Mao’s birthday “to spread false information and distort facts about Tibet’s past history, in the hope of making the Tibetan people believe this disinformation,” a young Tibetan in Lhasa told Radio Free Asia, requesting anonymity for safety reasons.

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Inside country most dangerous to celebrate Christmas where devout citizens risk death

Dictatorship has reigned supreme in totalitarian North Korea since its formation in 1948.Independent observers and defectors report systematic and egregious state-sanctioned abuses of power ranging from arbitrary detention and torture to forced labour in prison camps, to the extent that Amnesty International UK describes North Korea as being "in a category of its own when it comes to human rights violations". Article 3 of the North Korean constitution guarantees religious freedom for its 24 million people, but this is no less of a farce than the regime's paying lip service to democracy via its official title "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (DPRK).

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How Can We Actually Improve Human Rights in North Korea?

Human rights in North Korea are currently in the spotlight. In addition to a recent conference on North Korean human rights held in Honolulu, there’s also a new documentary, Beyond Utopia, about North Korean defectors that is receiving Oscar buzz. We can expect to hear more about North Korea human rights in 2024, the 10-year anniversary of the United Nations Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a landmark report that concluded that North Korea was committing crimes against humanity.

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