[EDITORIALS]Rights needed for allIt has been revealed that the National Human Rights Commission has been holding up the release of a report on North Korea’s rights abuses for months. The report was prepared by a team led by Dongguk University professor Koh Yu-hwan after interviewing 150 North Korean defectors.
The report is a stark portrayal of misery and cruelty. A female defector, who had been captured in China and returned to North Korea, then escaped again, said a nurse at a hospital kicked a pregnant woman to induce an abortion because the hospital had no medicine available.
Three-quarters of the defectors told of witnessing public executions and one testified to seeing a rice cake seller next to the bodies of people who had died of hunger.
The human rights commission was established to protect those basic human rights of all individuals that should never be violated. Citing those grounds, the commission has even ruled that enforcing hair style controls on middle and high school students violated their rights.
The commission has also expressed its formal objection to the government’s decision to send troops to Iraq. Despite complaints from related ministries that the commission’s decisions were unrealistic, it had insisted on respecting its principles of defending human rights.
The commission, however, has been silent about human rights issues in North Korea. The report is the first on North Korea the commission has assigned since its inauguration. Furthermore, it has been reluctant to release the report publicly.
The commission cannot avoid the criticism that it has contradicted itself. North Koreans are the people who must live together with South Koreans, a fact the commission knows best.
The commission must regain its balance now. It may have unspoken reasons for its actions but its independent status and authority is guaranteed by law. Thus, it has no reason to cater to the administration’s or politicians’ feelings.
Human rights have become a universal value of mankind, and those of North Korea should be judged by the same standard.