[CanKor Brain Trust member Roberta Cohen, non-resident senior fellow at Brookings and co-chair of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, conveys to Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report her personal views regarding both optimism and pessimism surrounding Monday’s statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in the DPRK. –CanKor]
First, High Commissioner Navi Pillay acknowledged that “the deplorable human rights situation in DPRK…has no parallel anywhere else in the world” and called for greater international attention to the abuses reported by former prisoners with whom she met for the first time in December 2012. This sharply contrasts with the past when High Commissioners failed to meet with defectors and generally qualified their remarks about North Korea in part because the UN could not directly access the prisons or give an independent diagnosis of the situation.
Pillay in fact repeats, “We know so little about these camps and what we do know comes largely from the relatively few refugees who have managed to escape from the country.” Yet, far more than a “few” have escaped and given credible testimony. [CanKor Brain Trust member] David Hawk‘s 200-page report Hidden Gulag, published in 2012 by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, contains the testimony of 60 former prisoners and guards. A lot of the accumulated testimony corroborates other testimony, making it factual and hard to ignore. Moreover, hundreds of the 25,000 North Koreans now in the South were former prisoners. Read the rest of this entry »