01/11/2012 North Korea (CSW) - Members of the British Parliament highlighted North Korea’s human rights and humanitarian crisis in a debate today, three days after the birthday of Kim Jong Un, the new leader of the country, and less than a month after the death of his father Kim Jong-il.
The 90-minute debate, held in Westminster Hall in the House of Commons, was introduced by Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, who presented a detailed description of the dire conditions in the country based on first-hand accounts of defectors and international experts. She described the testimony of Shin Dong-huk, who had been born in a North Korean prison camp and escaped when he was 23. His story, she said, was “the reason why I was particularly stirred to call this debate”.
Mrs Bruce had met Shin in Parliament in October 2011, and chaired an event at which he spoke, during his visit to the United Kingdom organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). “On hearing Shin’s story I was moved with compassion for the North Korean people to highlight their dignified suffering in order to encourage support for the North Korean people in their plight. May I therefore record that in calling this debate I hold no hatred for the people of North Korea but rather am motivated out of a deep love and concern for North Korean people, for their needs and for their deep suffering over decades,” she said. “North Korea has become the world’s most closed nation, with little press freedom, little religious freedom, little political freedom, little economic freedom and little freedom of movement or communication with the outside world for its people.”
Throughout the debate MPs highlighted the plight of an estimated 200,000 people in North Korea’s prison camps, documented evidence of the use of torture, forced labour and executions, religious persecution, trafficking of women, and the serious humanitarian crisis in the country due to food shortages. China’s policy of forcibly repatriating North Korean refugees, and the plight of foreign abductees kidnapped by North Korea over recent decades, including the family of Dr Oh Kil-nam, were also raised.