The U.N. Security Council shed some light on the dismal human rights situation in North Korea this week with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power saying life in the country is a “living nightmare”.
For the first time the human rights situation in communist North Korea has been discussed by the U.N. Security Council. Earlier in the year, the U.N. Human Rights Council Commission reported that North Korea had an estimated 100,000 people held in prison camps.
Evidence for the camps comes from satellite images as well as countless hours of witness testimony.
A former guard at one of the camps, Ahn Myong Chul, gave testimony about how guards routinely raped prisoners. A former prisoner, Kim Young-soon, told investigators that
inmates were so starved they were forced to find kernels of corn in cattle excrement.
China, who holds veto power in the council, denounced any effort to condemn North Korea’s human rights violations. China’s ambassador Liu Jieyi said that the council: “should refrain from doing anything that might cause the escalation of tensions”.
China, home to some of the worst human rights abuses in the world, is quick to try and silence human rights discussions, but it is clear that these violations by North Korea must be brought to light.
The U.N. General Assembly has urged the 15-member council to bring North Korea’s human rights violations to the International Criminal Court. While the U.S., France, and the U.K. agreed, the council has yet to take any action.