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Coalition aims at rights in North Korea

Concerted approach 'the only way to stand a chance of securing change'

Mike MacLachlan, London
United Kingdom

September 8, 2011

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A new global organization was launched today to campaign for human rights in North Korea. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea is made up of 40 rights organisations from Asia, Europe and the Americas, including Amnesty International and the International Federation for human rights. Its launch follows a conference in Tokyo yesterday attended by the constituent groups and legal experts from the Aegis Trust and the International Center for Transitional Justice. The conference was opened by Benedict Rogers, the London-based East Asia team leader of the rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “This is an historic initiative,” he said, “the first time so many people from so many different organizations from such a broad range of countries have come together, not only for a conference on North Korea but for a cause: stopping crimes against humanity in North Korea. “North Korea is one of the worst human rights situations in the world – and one of the most overlooked. “It became clear to me that we would only stand a chance of securing the change we want – an end to the regime’s crimes against humanity – if all of us, around the world, unite and work together.” The issue needed to be internationalized, he added. It was no longer merely a regional issue. “These are crimes against humanity and all of humanity must be involved.” “The time has come for the UN to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity that characterize North Korea today,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “We demand the world pull back the curtain on the egregious human rights violations that make the North Korean Government one of the most brutal regimes on earth.” Lord Alton, a Catholic and chairman of the UK's all-party parliamentary group on North Korea, praised the international scope of the coalition. “What is needed with North Korea is a contemporary equivalent of the Helsinki process we pursued with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War,” he said in a statement of support. This would combine “international pressure, an uncompromising alertness to security concerns, and a constructive, critical engagement in which human rights are placed firmly on the table.”
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