Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Human rights in North still 'grim'
US report paints continuing bleak picture as South activist questions sourcesA North Korean child (photo courtesy of Open Doors Korea)
- Stephen Hong, Seoul
- April 12, 2011
The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released April 8 by the US state department, covers human rights conditions in 194 countries as of 2010.
The report pointed out that non-governmental advocacy organizations were on the increase in 2010 but the world also witnessed the continuing escalation of violence, persecution and discrimination.
Regionally, the negative trend in human rights continued in China, Myanmar, North Korea and Vietnam, said the report, while Indonesia was highlighted for notable positive human rights developments last year.
Especially in North Korea, the human rights situation remained "grim", said the report. Severe and systematic human rights abuses occurred throughout the country's extensive network of prisons and detention centers.
Citing North Korean refugees, it indicated that in some instances the North government executed political prisoners, opponents of the regime and repatriated refugees with no judicial process.
There continued to be reports of severe punishment of some repatriated refugees and their family members, it said, adding that in January 2010 the North authorities executed three citizens who attempted to defect and sent the attempted defectors' families either to political prison camps or rural provinces.
But Andrew Kim Duck-jin, secretary general of the Catholic Human Rights Committee, noted the report talks aboutÂ North Korea's human rights situation, usually citing refugees or NGOs, without fact finding research or visits, which "leaves room for doubts".
Most of North Korean refugees came from remote areas in the North, Kim noted. He wondered how well they know about the whole country's human rights situation.
"I can't say the report is not trustworthy" but "it is also true that it leaves room for doubts", he noted,