Friday, November 20, 2009

U.N. condemns "widespread human rights violations" in North Korea and Burma


A special committee of the U.N. General Assembly
condemned North Korea and Burma on Thursday for
what it said were widespread human rights violations in the
two Asian countries. The 192-nation General Assembly's
Third Committee, which focuses on human rights issues,
approved a resolution on North Korea 97-19 with 65
abstentions. A similar resolution on Burma (Myanmar)
passed 92-26 with 65 abstentions. The North Korea
resolution voiced "very serious concern" at what it said
were persistent reports of "systematic, widespread and
grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights."

Among Pyongyang's violations, the resolution said, are
torture, inhuman conditions of detention, public
executions, collective punishment and "the existence of a
large number of prison camps and the extensive use of
forced labor." North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Pak
Tok Hun, dismissed the resolution as a political attack by
its enemies. "The draft resolution is nothing more than a
document of political conspiracy of the hostile forces to
... deny and obliterate the state and social system of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," he told the
committee. Among the sponsors of the North Korea
resolution were the European Union, the United States,
Japan and South Korea.

Envoys from developing nations that rights groups have
also accused of having poor human rights records,
including China, Russia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Egypt,
Zimbabwe, told the committee that they generally reject
such resolutions because they oppose singling out specific
countries. Burma's U.N. envoy Than Swe rejected the
resolution on his country, which said the assembly
"strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of
human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of
Myanmar." It also voiced "grave concern" at the recent
trial and sentencing to further house arrest of Burma's
opposition leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, and urged the military junta to release her and all
other political prisoners. Than Swe said the resolution
is "glaringly deficient" and little more than "another
means to maintain pressure on Myanmar (Burma) in
tandem with sanctions."

When dictators talk about human rights :


Kenji Nagai was a Japanese photojournalist shot dead in
Burma during the 2007 Burmese anti-dictature protests by
Burmese Buddhist monks. As we can see on this picture,
Kenji Nagai continued to take photos as he lay shot on the
ground, later dying from gunshot injuries to the chest.
He was the only foreign national killed in the protests.

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