[EDITORIALS]Silence on human rightsThe international forum on human rights in North Korea is starting today in Seoul. The seminar, in which 50 human rights activists will participate, is likely to raise the level of interest in North Korean human rights domestically as well as abroad. Nevertheless, the government, which in a sense is a directly concerned party, is turning a blind eye toward the forum.
The North Korean human rights issue has become a very serious matter in the international community that can no longer be ignored. Human rights violations in the North, such as torture, public executions and starvation, have reached a very serious level. The UN has passed a resolution on this issue, making the matter a global problem. That the EU stood at the forefront in bringing this issue to the UN and the fact that countries such as the United States and Japan have appointed North Korean human rights special envoys is well in line with this global concern. Our government’s shortsighted view is a problem. The government still abides by the theory that raising the issue would hurt inter-Korean relations. The logic is that if this issue is brought to the table it will agitate the North, which could spark repercussions, such as Pyongyang’s cancellation of inter-Korean talks. This logic holds little persuasive power. Why does the North engage in talks with the United States despite Washington’s calling the North’s leader Kim Jong-il a tyrant? The government’s attitude is just trying to please the North.
That some civic organizations have branded this seminar a plot to create anti-North Korean public opinion and are trying to obstruct it is also senseless. It is hard to understand how these organizations, which constantly have human rights on their agendas, can turn a blind eye to the cold reality that our North Korean brethren are subjected to. Why do they show such a forgiving attitude toward the North Korean dictatorship?
Human rights cannot be treated as a category that can be dealt with in the domain of diplomacy. They are common values that need to be upheld by the human race. Thus, even though the government wants to turn a blind eye to the North Korean human rights issue, it has to keep in mind that that is not an option. It should observe the seminar closely and use it to change its way of thinking.