U.S. offers $3 million in grants to promote human rights in North Korea

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U.S. offers $3 million in grants to promote human rights in North Korea

A screenshot of the U.S. government's grants application website showing a State Department notice offering funding for organizations seeking to promote human rights in North Korea. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A screenshot of the U.S. government's grants application website showing a State Department notice offering funding for organizations seeking to promote human rights in North Korea. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
The U.S. State Department will award up to $3 million in grants to organizations focusing on human rights in North Korea.
 
The announcement came in the form of a notice listed Wednesday on the federal government’s grants application website by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).
 
Up to 15 organizations will be eligible to receive the grants, pending a review of applications by the DLR starting from Jan. 15, 2021. The minimum grant amount to be given is $50,000, but organizations may receive up to $3 million.
 
“Projects should aim to have an impact that leads to democratic reforms, and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources,” read the notice.
 
Criteria that would be deemed eligible for funding include the “fostering of free flow of information into, or out of, and within” North Korea as well as documentation and advocacy roles to raise global awareness of human rights violations in the country.
 
Examples included producing and transmitting radio broadcasts into the North, creating a public online database of prisons and gulags in the country and submitting reports or conducting advocacy campaigns at international forums.  
 
Organizations eligible for funding may be based in the United States or abroad, and can be institutions for education as well as businesses or for-profit entities, the notice added.
 
The U.S. State Department regularly offers such funding opportunities for organizations aiming to promote democratic and human-rights focused agendas related to the North.
 
North Korea has claimed such forms of U.S. financial support are intended to promote regime change.  
 
Under the Trump administration, top U.S. officials, including the president himself, have stated on numerous occasions they have no intentions to topple Kim Jong-un’s rule in Pyongyang.
 
But with denuclearization negotiations in a rut, Washington continues to impose and tighten economic sanctions on the regime.
 
Last week, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two organizations — a Russian construction company and a North Korean trading company operating in Russia — accused of exporting forced labor from North Korea.
 
“North Korea has a long history of exploiting its citizens by sending them to distant countries to work in grueling conditions in order to financially support Pyongyang and its weapons programs,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a department press release. “Those countries still hosting North Korean workers must send these workers home.”  
 
United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 mandate that all UN member states repatriate North Korean workers pursuant to sanctions imposed on the country in response to its nuclear and missile programs.  
 
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK   [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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