ICNK, a new coalition of international and domestic NGOs which has set its sights on obtaining a UN Commission of Inquiry into North Korea’s crimes against humanity, followed up its inaugural conference in Tokyo on Wednesday by yesterday releasing a letter to Kim Jong Il calling on him to end North Korea’s widespread human rights violations.
The letter urges North Korea to allow access to North Korea and its detention facilities for international agencies including the UN Special Rapporteur, to allow unfettered access for international humanitarian organizations to do their work, to release all abductees, to cease all public executions, torture and the use of forced labor, and to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Commenting on the launch of ICNK in a press release, Ha Tae Kyung of Open Radio for North Korea explained, “Establishment of this important coalition will help move human rights to center stage in all of the international community’s interactions with North Korea,” while Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch added, “The time has come for the UN to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity that characterize North Korea today. We demand that the world pull back the curtain on the egregious human rights violations that make the North Korean government one of the most brutal regimes on earth.”
Below is the letter to Kim Jong Il;
General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Dear Chairman Kim Jong-il,
We represent a variety of non-governmental organizations representing millions of concerned citizens around the world who have established an international coalition to address crimes against humanity in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We are united in this effort because we are concerned for the well-being of the North Korean people and we seek to help your country develop as a genuinely peaceful and rights-respecting nation, respected as such by the rest of the world.
Access is urgently needed for independent and neutral human rights monitors, in particular the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the DPRK. Your government should extend an immediate invitation to the Special Rapporteur, who should be allowed to determine his work schedule and appointments, including visits to all detention facilities, in particular the kwan-li-so (political prison camps). Cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms is incumbent on every UN member state, yet the DPRK has regretfully failed to live up to its responsibilities in this regard.
We also urge you to invite the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international monitors to visit all penal institutions, including the kwan-li-so in order to end abuses in those centers. There is growing concern in the international community about the conditions of detention in the kwan-li-so, and we believe that the DPRK should immediately address these concerns and become far more transparent, accountable and accessible with regard to its penal institutions.
To respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, we first appeal to you to provide access to the DPRK to international humanitarian organizations. We are also seriously concerned about the food shortages in the DPRK and the humanitarian crisis that has developed as a result. If the international community is to effectively help your people, we believe it is vital that international monitors from the World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies are provided with unfettered access to monitor the distribution of food assistance in the DPRK. We urge your government to make public guarantees to provide such continued and unfettered access so that the international community is better prepared to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the DPRK.
We urge you to immediately release all abductees who have been kidnapped from other countries and taken to the DPRK or, in the cases where those abductees have died, to provide clear and incontrovertible proof of their demise to the relatives of the abductees. We urge your government to see this as a matter of family reunification for abductees who have been deprived of their families for far too long.
We appeal to you to end all executions, stop the deliberate and systematic use of torture, close the kwan-li-so, and immediately end the practice of forced labour in penal institutions. We also urge your government to immediately join the International Labour Organization (ILO), which can provide appropriate technical advice on how to ensure an end to forced labor in the DPRK.
Finally, we urge your government to publicly proclaim that it will respect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and all other international human rights conventions and treaties to which the DPRK is a party. The government should revise all laws and regulations to bring them into compliance with the international standards of freedom of conscience and religion, expression, association and assembly, and movement, and ensure that these rights are respected in practice by the DPRK government and its officials in all parts of the country.
We look forward to your timely response on these important matters.
Advocates International Global Council
Asia Justice and Rights
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
Burma Partnership (Thailand)
Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
Freedom House (USA)
Free NK Gulag (ROK)
Free North Korea Radio (ROK)
Han Voice (Canada)
HH Katacombs (ROK)
Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea)(Japan)
Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea
Jubilee Campaign (USA)
Justice for North Korea (ROK)
Liberty in North Korea – LiNK (USA)
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
No Fence (Japan)
North Korea Freedom Coalition