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Letter from U.K. urges passage of N. Korea rights bill

Some members of the U.K. Parliament have sent letters to major political parties in Korea, urging them to work together to pass a long-delayed bill on North Korean human rights, a North Korea watcher here said.

“Twenty U.K. MPs sent the letter on July 20, directed to four major political parties of Korea,” Ha Tae-keung, who runs Open Radio for North Korea, a Seoul-based radio station that broadcasts daily to the North, said Tuesday.

The lawmakers belong to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, which is chaired by David Alton, a member of the House of Commons, the lower house of the U.K. parliament, he said.

The letters, expected to arrive this week, are addressed to four leaders of the ruling Grand National Party, the main opposition Democratic Party, the far-right Liberty Forward Party and the far-left Democratic Labor Party.

The British politicians noted in the message that the bill pending in South Korea’s National Assembly is aimed at improving dire human rights conditions in the communist country, Ha explained.

The move by U.K. MPs came after Ha met their representatives last month in London and asked for their support for his North Korea-related activities.

The bill, submitted in 2005, has not yet reached the floor for the final vote, as it has been a subject of controversy between rival political groups in Korea.

While the conservative ruling camp backs the proposal, liberal politicians oppose, saying it runs the risk of only aggravating inter-Korean relations, while having little impact on curbing infringement of human rights there.

“North Korean human rights is a matter of interests for the international community, but the parliament of South Korea is still sitting idle on the issue,” Rep. Kim Ki-hyun, a GNP spokesperson, said in a press statement.

The party will do its best to handle the bill in the parliamentary session in August, he said.

By Lee Sun-young (
Korea Herald Youtube