The West draws attention to the violations of the rights of North Korea; China opposes

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United States, its Western allies and experts shed light on North Korea’s dire human rights situation and intensifying crackdown at a UN meeting on Friday, which China and Russia condemned as a politicized move that could lead to further escalation tension in North Korea. Korean peninsula.

China blocked the broadcast of an informal meeting of the US Security Council around the world on the Internet. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized the decision as an attempt to hide North Korea’s “atrocities” from the world.

Webcasting requires the consent of all 15 council members. But the US ambassador said Beijing’s efforts were in vain because the meeting would be made public and the US and many others would continue to oppose Pyongyang’s human rights violations and threats to international peace.

James Turpin, a senior official with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula pose a threat to regional and international peace and security, and “these tensions cannot be separated from the terrible human rights situation.” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, the official name of the North.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, North Korea has been in lockdown. The United Nations does not have an international staff in the country, and Turpin said this “coincides with increased repression of civil and political rights.”

He pointed to stricter government measures to prevent people from accessing information from the outside world, extreme levels of surveillance, random searches of people’s homes for material not sanctioned by the state, and punishment for anyone who tries to exercise basic rights, including freedom of speech. , religion and peaceful assembly.

Elizabeth Salmon, UN Special Investigator for Human Rights in North Korea, also stressed “the interdependence of international peace and security and human rights”, saying that peace and denuclearization cannot be seen without considering current human rights violations.

She told the gathering that the limited information available shows that the suffering of the North Korean people has increased and their already limited freedoms have decreased. Access to food, medicine and health care remains a priority, “people froze to death during the cold weather in January” and some did not have the money to heat their homes, while others were forced to live on the street because they sold their houses as a last resort.

Xing Jisheng, an adviser to China’s mission to the UN, criticized the US for discussing human rights in the Security Council, whose mandate is to ensure international peace and security, saying it was “not constructive in any way.” Instead of easing tensions, he said, “it could rather exacerbate the conflict, and therefore it is an irresponsible move.”

“Using UN web TV for live broadcasts is a waste of UN resources,” added Xing, saying that if countries are truly concerned about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the well-being of the people, they should work to reopen dialogue, reduce tensions, and support the lifting of sanctions. affecting the livelihoods of North Koreans and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country.

Stepan Kuzmenkov, a senior adviser at the Russian mission to the UN, echoed China’s objection to discussing human rights in the Security Council and said there was no reason to convene a meeting “that has a clear anti-North Korean focus.”

He accused the US of using human rights “to settle scores with governments they don’t like” and denounced what he called “streams of disinformation” about North Korea being spread by the US and its allies “under the pretext that they are trying to protect human rights.”

“We see that the United States, South Korea and Japan are conducting aggressive militaristic activities, thereby escalating tension in Northeast Asia, endangering the security of the countries of the region,” Kuzmenov said. “Americans are ignoring initiatives that could help ease tensions, as well as meaningful and constructive signals (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un is sending that could lead to a possible de-escalation.”

America’s Thomas-Greenfield countered that “the regime’s widespread violations of human rights and its threats to our collective security could not be more obvious.”

North Korea’s ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs threaten international peace and security and are “inextricably linked to the regime’s human rights abuses,” she said.

“In the DPRK, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction always, always takes precedence over the human rights and humanitarian needs of its people,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

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