The Government of Canada Speaks (Just A Little, For Now)

Han Voice Chair Randall Baran-Chong and MP Barry Devolin

Han Voice Chair Randall Baran-Chong and MP Barry Devolin

Two inter-related events quietly happened this past week.

The first event took place in Ottawa last Thursday, as the inaugural John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award was awarded to the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (or “NKHR”). This achievement, the brainchild of an up-and-coming DFAIT staffer, was given by none other than Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.

The second event took place in Toronto last Saturday. An open forum was co-hosted by HanVoice, the Citizens Alliance, as well as the Toronto Korean consulate at the University of Toronto. As part of the event, several speakers, including Benjamin Yoon (chairman of NKHR), the South Korean consul general, and Member of Parliament Barry Devolin gave some opening remarks. These opening addresses were followed by a short panel discussion by Chris Kim and Sydney Choi of HanVoice, Pam Shime from the Global Advocacy & Leadership Institute, Suk Woo Kim from NKHR, and Ashley Eom from NKHR. The panelists spoke about wide-and-varied topics, including possible private sponsorship and education programs for North Korean refugees, the potential for the issue of children (and especially stateless children) as a possible wedge issue regarding human rights advocacy, food aid, and the rampant sexual trafficking of female North Korean refugees in China. Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript of Canadian Parliamentary Hearing on North Korean Human Rights

Parliament Hill, Image via Wikipedia

In the last issue of CanKor Report (#333) we asked a number of questions regarding a hearing on North Korean human rights held on Canada’s Parliament Hill on the 1st and 3rd February by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. These are the questions we puzzled over:

  • Who came up with the idea of this hearing?
  • Who chose the two “witnesses” that appeared in this hearing?
  • Why was not a single Canadian asked to present a brief or act as a witness?
  • Why were Canadian NGOs and academics with a track record of dealing with the DPRK excluded from participating?
  • Why was the largest Canadian organization dealing with North Korean human rights and refugees (HanVoice) not even invited to attend?
  • Were the dates chosen to send a message to the DPRK on the 10th anniversary of our diplomatic relations? Read the rest of this entry »
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