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President under fire over N. Korea meet

Activists condemn failure to discuss human rights abuses

Haris Azhar speaks to reporters Haris Azhar speaks to reporters
  • by Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • May 16, 2012
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has come under fire from activists for not having raised human rights violations during a meeting with a visiting top North Korean official.

The president met with Kim Yong-nam, chairman of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly – the impoverished country’s highest organ of power – in Jakarta yesterday to discuss bilateral cooperation.

“President Yudhoyono should have urged North Korea to curb its human rights abuses, which have long been a global concern,” Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), told a press conference today.

He said the meeting was the perfect moment for the president to raise the subject of human rights violations in North Korea.

Azhar said the commission, which is also a member of the Tokyo-based International Coalition for North Korea, has recorded many serious human rights violations in the Stalinist country, including the repression of press freedom and harsh crackdowns on any forms of dissent.

He pointed to what he said were around 154,000 political prisoners being held in six big camps in North Korea.

“They were sent to these camps without trial even though North Korea’s new constitution claims to respect human rights,” he said.

The Indonesian government showed its ignorance during the meeting by only searching for benefits through economic cooperation, he said.

Related reports:

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Police 'commit most rights violations'

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