[imText1]“Not only are nuclear inspection teams necessary, but so are inspection teams to confirm the existence of the political prison camps, which North Korea officially denies,” Cheong Kwang Il, the manager of the International Affairs Coordination Team for Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag, told the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on March 15th.
Cheong also testified to his personal experience of detention, interrogation, beating and torture in a North Korean political prison camp during the gathering of around 20 internationally influential human rights NGOs in the Swiss city.
Democracy Network also urged international concern for the issue during a meeting with Marzuki Darusman, the current UN Special Rapporteur, and set up a display of photos and pictures for the event, which ran over two days.
Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights and Conectas, a Brazilian human rights NGO, also met with Darusman, where they called for action on the issue of defector repatriation.
“We call upon the international community to show concern for the situation that North Korean defector refugees face when they are repatriated to North Korea,” the Citizens Alliance said. “A large number of repatriated people are sent to political prison camps, and there is no way to confirm whether they are dead or alive.”
Lee Jee Hae, the chief of planning for Democracy Network against NK Gulag who was in Geneva alongside Cheong, told The Daily NK that the event had certainly raised awareness, saying, “Reporters in Geneva now realize that the North Korean human rights situation is much more serious than the Cuban, Iranian or Libyan situations thanks to Cheong’s speech, and they asked him for interviews.”
She added, “We are going to visit the North Korean mission in Geneva to deliver a letter asking about the whereabouts of 254 Yoduk detainees.”
Predictably, however, So Se Pyong, the North Korean Ambassador to Switzerland, who attended the summit, branded the international community’s activities on North Korean human rights a ‘plot’. He said North Korea would not accept it, and would continue to go its own way.