We the people demand the cessation of crimes against humanity as well as the implementation of humane treatment for North Koreans now.
The whole world looked on with horror at the numerous abuses that occurred at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, including what the International Military Tribunal designated crimes against humanity: "murder, extermination, enslavement" and "persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds." Sadly enough, the exact same heinous acts plus "infanticide, torture, persecution of Christians, rape, forced abortions, starvation and overwork leading to countless deaths" (as cited by International Bar Association War Crimes Committee, 2017) have been committed in North Korea for more than 60 years and are still occurring largely unchallenged by world leaders today! Despite the fact that in 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea made a declaration that human rights violations had reached "a critical mass," actions taken by numerous human rights and political bodies seem to stop at statements and reports instead of the implementation of recommendations. A difficult lesson the United States has learned from Rwanda that need not be repeated is that words without actions are dead, and so too are the victims.
The facts regarding the gravity of the situation are undisputed and prominent worldwide:
- Intentional starvation is routinely used as a tactic of control and punishment. To prevent death, several reports indicate captives eating rats, insects, snakes, frogs and bean and maize kernels inside animal dung just to survive.
- Some of the widespread torture which happens daily entails: beating people to death just for mere sport, not meeting production quotas, or for eating minute quantities of edible plants found while working; "secret police" raping women at midnight, and hanging prisoners by their ankles.
- Of the 100,000 prisoners estimated to be held in camps; due to horrifying, inhumane conditions; 20 to 25 percent or roughly 20,000 to 25,000 people die each year.
- Religious persecution is rampant. In fact, if the State discovers a person is a Christian, one is sent to prison even if this is his or her only so-called "crime." Many are tortured as well, including one woman who was placed in a dunk tank filled with water just below her nose so that she could barely breathe.
- If children are sent to a prison camp on the charge of "guilt by association," they will be locked up their entire life, the majority having no hope of survival since they are literally worked to death.
- Since no infants are allowed to live, miscarriages are accomplished by forcing pregnant women to carry heavy loads up and down hills, having several guards step on a wooden board placed on a pregnant woman's stomach, severe beatings, or by feeding newborns to guard dogs.
Coming to the rescue of the poor, marginalized, and despised should not require contemplation; rather, decisive action is absolutely necessary. After years of neglect, the human rights crisis in North Korea is an international human rights emergency that must be dealt with at once. Right now while you are reading, people are being beaten, tortured, raped, and starved to death. Shockingly, these types of violations have been going on undealt with for sixty years now! The time for the world to intercept and console the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds and cries of the North Korean people is now!
We appreciate you, President Trump, for your incredible, admirable, and entrepreneurial determination to denuclearize North Korea; however, this step in and of itself is simply not enough, but rather only a part of a more comprehensive plan to ensure peace, domestic and international tranquility, human rights, and a safe harbor to the people of North Korea and its neighbors. As a political pioneer who loves to sail through uncharted waters, we are calling on you to make a magnanimous impact, perhaps the most momentous in your presidency, by:
- Immediately addressing the human rights emergency alongside nuclear negotiations.
- Experts caution that without oversight and massive reforms in North Korean prisons, any gains from a nuclear deal will be short-lived or non-existent since an agreement would require verification and inspection from the international community. Citizens of any echelon will be too afraid to speak to nuclear investigators due to the fear factor of being incarcerated and executed for treason. The UN confirmed this fact in their 2014 report on human rights in the DPRK, stating: "The most significant investigative challenge faced by the commission, aside from the inability to have access to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, was the fear of reprisals by witnesses."
- Without proper monitoring of any deal, what is to prevent the regime from lying about the status of missiles just like they did in negotiations with President Clinton in 1994? As you recall, the infamous result here was the exact opposite of what was sought after; namely, an increase in nuclear production. Why? The plutonium used to create the missiles, that was thought to be closely watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency, obviously was not being carefully scrutinized. Use of similar tactics and repeat failure are an unacceptable combination at the present juncture. Again, if both issues are not dealt with, what is to prevent North Korea from blindsiding us this time as well? Retired Army officer Joshua Stanton said: "As long as you have a society where every scientist, engineer and soldier lives in fear of...being sent to Camp 16, we are never going to get straight answers."
- Granting security for the regime of Kim Jong-un only if this status is recognized by the people of North Korea. Kang Chol-hwan, a former political prisoner who was incarcerated from age nine to nineteen with his whole family for their association with their grandfather accused of political treason up to the third generation, stated: "It's murderous of anyone to say in return for denuclearization, Kim's political system will be assured...The people of North Korea should have the right to decide through a vote what political system they want. Ensuring security for a murderous regime that ignores people's basic human rights and kills people for no reason – that's a crime in itself."
- Holding the current regime responsible for human rights abuses instead of giving them the "blue ribbon ceremony" or "a free pass" in exchange for denuclearization. The International Bar Association made these recommendations, quoted verbatim, following their December 2016 inquiry in Washington, D.C. based on the testimony of North Korean defectors regarding the state of political prisons, guidance that could be applied to the prison system as a whole:
○ the dismantlement of the DPRK political prison system and commitment to a new system of fair and transparent justice that affords proper due process to its citizens and acceptance
○ of an international monitoring scheme that ensures the present political prison system remains dismantled; ○ the implementation of safeguards by UN member states to prevent the importation of products produced in the North Korean penal system; and
○ the adoption of carefully targeted, coordinated and multilateral sanctions against individuals deemed responsible for past or ongoing crimes against humanity in the DPRK.
- Working with Congress, including implementation of humanitarian aid and sanctions, to require Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to act on recommendations incorporated in a letter signed by 52 organizations; including coalitions representing more than 300 nongovernmental organizations from Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and North America; on June 6, 2018, to:
○ Respond to and take action on the findings of the seminal 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry;
○ Act on United Nations human rights recommendations;
○ Increase engagement with the international human rights system;
○ Establish regular meetings of separated families of any foreign national with relatives in North Korea;
○ End abuses in detention and prisons, including forced labor; and
○ Accept international humanitarian aid with appropriate monitoring to ensure it reaches needy people and communities.
Let's do something today in order to promote domestic and international peace, prosperity, security, and much-needed human rights for the people of North Korea.