In a developing story, Kim Jong Il is a ba-a-a-d man:
North Korea has committed “crimes against humanity” against its own people according to an independent report published on Monday that made a long-shot appeal for the U.N. Security Council to deal with the issue.
Released after North Korea’s October 9 nuclear test, the report describes Pyongyang’s brutal treatment of its citizens, from the beatings of pregnant women to force miscarriages to the abduction, torture and execution of political prisoners.
Commissioned by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, the paper seeks to spotlight rights abuses that have been previously reported but are often overshadowed by concern about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“It is clear that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il and the North Korean government are actively committing crimes against humanity,” they said in a letter introducing the report, which was prepared by the nonprofit, independent U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and by the DLA Piper law firm.
“We strongly urge the U.N. Security Council to take up the situation of North Korea. Protecting the people of North Korea requires nothing less,” they added.
And there is nothing less than the United Nations, I always say.
The report, largely based on previously published material, estimates that North Korea imprisons “upwards of 200,000 people in its modern-day gulag” and that double that number have died in the its prison network over 30 years.
It describes prisoners being fed near-starvation diets that they supplement with insects, being beaten until their eyeballs pop out and being entombed in “sweatbox” solitary cells so small they are forced to crouch for months.
Noting as many as one million people may have died in North Korea’s late 1990s famine and the country faces “chronic” food shortages, it argues Pyongyang “failed in its responsibility to protect its own people from crimes against humanity.”
In a second justification for Council action, it said North Korea poses a “non-traditional threat” to international peace because of its rights abuses, the possibility of mass refugee outflows and alleged drug trafficking and counterfeiting.
Elie Wiesel and Vaclav Havel are two of a very small number of people I admire–and their effort is not to be ridiculed. It is, rather, to be taken gravely seriously.
More seriously than this:
Foreign policy analysts praised the report for highlighting an issue that often gets short shrift amid concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs but they said the chances of the Security Council acting on it were slim.
Among other reasons, they noted the council has already passed two resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea in the last four months, the first following its July 5 ballistic missile tests and the second after this month’s nuclear test.
They also said China — which holds a veto — historically has resisted bringing up human rights at the Security Council for fear that its own practices might be scrutinized.
“On the one hand, it’s probably a moral imperative. On the other hand, I think it’s a political nonstarter,” said Columbia University Professor Edward Luck, a U.N. specialist.
That will be the epitaph for our time.
[UPDATE]: The fellas speak for themselves in the NYT.