UN report denounces enforced disappearances in North Korea
Seoul, Mar 28 (EFE).- The UN Human Rights Office presented a report Tuesday on forced disappearances and kidnappings by the North Korean government and demanding more efforts to bring justice and reparation to victims and to their families.
“Enforced disappearances are one of the most atrocious crimes because it affects not only the victim itself, but also their relatives for generations, as the report shows,” James Heenan, the UN Human Rights Office director, said during the presentation of the document in Seoul.
The report, titled “These wounds do not heal,” is based on 80 interviews with people who have been kidnapped or held against their will against the regime or relatives of those who have disappeared in North Korea.
The testimonies reveal the serious and persistent emotional and psychological damage suffered by families left behind, in addition to the economic impact, since in many cases the missing persons were the main source of income for the household.
The cases the report cites are divided into four categories, beginning with those of thousands of South Koreans taken prisoner during the Korean War (1950-53) and never returned.
Then come the families with members of Korean and Japanese origin (some 93,000 people in total) who, at the end of World War II, were repatriated from Japan to North Korea in a campaign by Pyongyang to draw workers and talent from abroad.
It also includes people who while in North Korea (including those deported from China after fleeing the country) were sent to the infamous penal colonies known as “Kwanliso” without being heard of again.
Then are individuals kidnapped after the Korean War, including South Koreans (more than 500), Japanese (at least 13), and people of at least a dozen other nationalities.
“I was waiting for the plane, which did not land, for hours. Finally, at (4pm), they issued a bulletin reporting the hijacking of the plane. And I have been like this for five decades, without knowing anything more about my husband,” Lee Mo, wife of prisoner Jang Ki-yeong, who attended the presentation with other victims and relatives, said at the event.
Jang was one of 11 crew members on a Korean Air plane that Pyongyang hijacked in 1969 and never returned home.
“We are running out of time to bring justice to these people,” insisted Eleanor Munoz, a member of the UN Human Rights Office, presenting victims and relatives and recalling that many have died without knowing what has happened to their loved ones.
“What the victims want most: the truth,” Heenan said, adding that the report makes very clear recommendations; It demands, mainly from Pyongyang, transparency, accountability and, above all, that no more cases like this happen again. EFE