The state human rights watchdog chief on Thursday sent a letter to some 1,500 North Korean defectors, urging them to report cases of human rights abuse they had suffered or witnessed in the communist state, officials said Thursday.
In the letter, Hyun Byung-chul of the National Human Rights Commission also expressed regret over the lack of “systematic” measures to express their agony and frustration at the human rights conditions in the North.
“There has been no state institution here that receives cases of human rights abuses in the North and makes systematic records of them. So, there has been no place for you to express your pains and frustration and I feel sorry for that,” he said in the letter.
The letter was also designed to inform North Korean defectors that in March, the watchdog opened a center to register cases of North Korea’s human rights violations and a body to record the state’s human rights situations.
“The institutions are meant to improve the human rights situation after receiving reports of human rights violations under the dictatorial North Korean regime,” he said.
“Now is the time you should make efforts to deter human rights abuses and for the early national reunification. All your reports of the cases will be strictly kept confidential.”
More than 20,000 North Korean defectors have arrived in South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce. Most of them flee via China. With political oppression and chronic food shortages, the number has steadily increased.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)