Christians back human rights plea to Kim Jong-un

Christian groups are among the signatories of an open letter to the new North Korean leader appealing for an end to human rights abuses in the country.

The letter says that the 24.5 million people in North Korea are “living in fear” of arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture or death.

The groups condemn the decades-long mistreatment of North Koreans at the hands of the regime, including the detention of an estimated 200,000 men, women and children for political reasons in prison or labour camps.

They ask for an end to the incarceration of relatives of political prisoners because of ‘guilt by association’.

The political elite are condemned by the groups for living “like royalty” while millions of North Koreans suffer in the face of widespread hunger, malnutrition and a lack of healthcare.

The human rights groups call upon North Korea to meet its obligations under international treaties.

They want to see access granted to human rights monitors from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The letter has been sent by the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), an umbrella group of 40 human rights organisations which includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Ha Tae Keung, President of Open North Korea and a member of the ICNK Co-ordinating Committee, said: “Kim Jong-un should look to his legacy. He has the opportunity to be remembered as the leader who restored freedom to the people of North Korea.

“He can bring his country out of isolation and assure peace and security on the Korean peninsula.

“But he can do this only by respecting the basic human rights of the North Korean people.

“He should open the country to international human rights monitors, close the prison camps and set the captives free.”