[EDITORIALS]Speak up for human rightsThe National Human Rights Commission recently held a series of internal discussions on whether to take a stand on the North Korean human rights issue. Though the discussions did not reach a conclusion, it is a desirable move, compared to the commission’s past stance, which was to maintain total silence. But, considering the reason for the commission’s existence, we are sorry to see it still vacillate over a task that it should already have finished.
The North Korean human rights issue has positioned itself as a core issue in the international community. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has adopted a resolution to improve North Korean human rights for three consecutive years. The United States even appointed a special envoy on human rights in North Korea. Great Britain and Japan said last April at the UN Commission on Human Rights that the trampling on human rights in North Korea has reached a level that the international community can no longer overlook.
The attitude a country takes regarding the issue has come to indicate that country’s standard for democracy and respect for human rights. The first article of the law governing the human rights commission defines the its purpose as to “protect the inviolable human rights which all individuals possess.” The commission will admit that North Koreans must be protected from hunger and human rights infringement. However, look at the reality.
The reason why the commission could not take a position on the issue is reportedly the objection of some members. Their logic was that the improving North-South relations could help to promote North Korean human rights.
Relations have improved enough that South Korean civilians now go to Pyongyang to watch the North Korean propaganda Arirang performances. North Korean human rights, however, remain at the worst level. When South Korea overlooks the disastrous situation in North Korea and works only on the political side of inter-Korean relations, it is only contributing to prolonging the oppression.
The National Human Rights Commission must keep this in mind, to speak out about its concerns over the North Korean human rights infringement issue. The government also must make efforts to make substantial progress on the issue through inter-Korean dialogue.