North Korea: U.S. Human Rights Advocacy ‘a Serious Political Provocation’

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

North Korea’s state media assailed the United States and allies at the United Nations Tuesday for helping pass a resolution condemning Pyongyang’s decades-long systematic human rights abuses, calling the resolution “a serious political provocation against the dignified” Korean state.

The commentary appeared in the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun a week after the U.N. General Assembly agreed to a resolution condemning “systematic, widespread and gross” in the country.

North Korea has functioned as a repressive communist state since its founding as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1950. Multiple studies estimate that between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the country are currently interned in violent prison camps where beatings, torture, rape, forced abortions, and other abuses are common. North Korean prison camp survivors have testified to seeing prisoners stoned to death and, in cases where authorities fail to perform abortions, infants fed to dogs after their mothers’ executions.

“It is the trite method of the U.S. to fabricate human rights performance of those countries incurring its displeasure and mislead the public,” Rodong Sinmun asserted. “The wicked intention of the U.S. and its followers in getting vocal about the non-existent ‘human rights issue’ of the DPRK is to broaden the scope of the sanctions and pressure and escalate them.”

The commentary went on to claim that the United States “can never cover up the reality in the DPRK where the people exercise genuine rights as the master of the state and society nor can they justify their criminal racket for sanctions and pressure.”

Rodong Sinmun went on to denounce the United Nations, of which it is a member, for becoming “tool of high-handed and arbitrary practices of the U.S. and slanders the genuine country of the people.”

The commentary followed a similar denunciation this weekend of the government of South Korea for signing onto the offending U.N. resolution. Another North Korean government propaganda publication, the website Uriminzokkiri, reportedly condemned South Korea’s representatives at the General Assembly for participating in a “foreign scheme” to embarrass its northern neighbor, with which it is still technically at war.

Uriminzokkiri also celebrated what it claimed to be the spread of its version of communist “independent” ideology around the world. “The trend towards independence has gained headway worldwide and developing countries have remained activated in their moves to resolutely counter the imperialists’ unilateral high-handed and arbitrary practices with their concerted efforts,” the publication claimed.

North Korea counts among its allies the world’s most anti-American nations, including Syria, Venezuela, Iran, and China.

Pyongyang initially objected to the U.N. resolution, which merely condemned the human rights abuses without demanding any enforcement of international law against North Korea, through its delegation to the institution.

“The UN Security Council should not be misused as a platform again where US’s high-handedness and arbitrary practice would prevail, and should remain true to its mission and duties as enshrined in the UN Charter,” the official North Korean delegation said in a statement, alleging that the General Assembly resolution was part and parcel of the efforts at the Security Council to impose international sanctions on Pyongyang.

North Korea is currently under one of the world’s most stringent sanctions regime since the United Nations successfully convinced the Security Council to vote in their favor following the nation’s latest illegal nuclear weapons test in September 2017. At the time, North Korea referred to the sanctions as an “act of war,” though it has failed to engage in significant belligerent military activity since then.

The United States has repeatedly claimed in the last month that negotiations intended to convince communist dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon the nation’s illegal nuclear weapons program are succeeding. Early this month, President Donald Trump said Washington was “in a good relationship” with Kim, while State Department officials suggested that another summit between the leader of the free world and the dictator leading the most repressive regime on the globe may occur as early as the first half of 2019.

On Monday, President Trump said on Twitter that “progress is being made” in talks between the two countries, adding, “Looking forward to my next summit with Chairman Kim!”

North Korean officials and state propaganda recently began suggesting that they had no intention of denuclearizing unless the United States vacated all its troops from the Korean Peninsula, a demand that was not part of the agreement between Trump and Kim at their summit in Singapore this summer. Last week, North Korean state media suggested that true denuclearization required American troops to leave the Korean Peninsula because the United States is a nuclear power, and thus the presence of any U.S. military poses a nuclear threat to North Korea.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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