Press Release
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Urging the Government of Indonesia and Kim Yong Nam to Discuss the Settlement of Gross Human Rights Violations in North Korea

KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) urges the Indonesian government to take an important role in a series of massive human rights violations that have occurred in North Korea.

This is important to be delivered remembering in the near future the representative of the North Korean government will come and meet with the President of Indonesia,Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 13-15 May 2012.

The second highest leader of the North Korean government Kim Yong-nam and the Indonesian President SBY will attend the meeting to focus on the nuclear program and the recent rocket launch failure. During his visit, Kim Yong-nam will also meet with the Head of the House of Representatives, Marzuki Alie.

KontraS views that the meeting’s agenda is very pragmatic,given the agenda of the meeting will not touch the fundamental problems of a series of massive human rights violations against the people of North Korea. As part of an international subject,KontraS assess that the Indonesian government has an obligation to participate in maintaining world peace as it is stated in Indonesia's constitution. Due to this Indonesia should play an active role in initiating, creating and realizing progressive steps between countries in order to achieve world peace, one of which is obtaining peace for the people of North Korea. This is certainly consistent with the active role that had been taken by the government of Indonesia in several key positions such as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council,member of the Human Rights Council as well as several other key positions at the international level.

KontraS also takes note of the number of gross human rights violations that have been committed by the North Korean government. Referring to the reports issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea, Mr. Marzuki Darusman, there are series of gross human rights violation in North Korea. First, the condition of freedom of expression are highly concerned related the limitation to the media and all forms of association and expressions that are regarded as hostile to the government. There are no opposition parties known as politically independent and civil society organizations and international Internet networks are able to be access only to a small minority, a few high rank officials and foreign diplomats.

Secondly, the issue of prisoners’ camps we also deem as highly critical. It is reported that there are around 154.000 political prisoners in six major camps in North Korea at the moment. The political prisoners are sent to camps without trials and are sentenced to lifetime imprisonment, despite of the fact that the North Korean constitution states their respect towards human rights. Prisoners are forced to work hard for 10 hours/day and are treated with poor diet and do not receive medical assistance. They are also prohibited from communicating with their families while they are in prison. Many of them have experienced torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments if the inmates are suspected of lying or seen not working quickly. The forms of punishment include beatings,forced exercise,sitting motionless for long periods of time and humiliation.The existence of forced labour,inadequate food,beatings,lack of medical attention and unhygienic conditions has caused many inmates to fall ill and die in custody or shortly after his release from custody.

Thirdly is the condition of starvation in North Korea that is getting worse and we fear, could become a major crisis in the near future. The problem of famine that has lasted since the late 1990s, is estimated to have killed around 2 million people. Many North Korean children are under the threat of extreme hunger and malnutrition. To be exact, more than 60% of the children in North Korea are facing this threat (based on the data released by the World Food Program (WFP) after almost 5 months conducting a survey and monitoring in North Korea). As a consequence, North Korea today very much relies on international food aid.

Therefore, we believe that it would be rather illogical and inhumane to establish a dialogue, let alone a cooperation between these two countries, Indonesia and North Korea regarding nuclear and rocket launches while in fact, there are millions of people suffering from poor conditions in North Korea. KontraS as a part of the civil society that focuses on human rights issues at the national and international level, therefore urges the Indonesian government in its meeting with Kim Yong-nam to:

  1. Facilitate a constructive dialogue with the North Korean government relating to the human rights violations in North Korea as a part of Indonesia’s mandate as written in its constitution.
  2. Requests the North Korean government to give an opportunity for KontraS as one of the representatives of the civil society in Indonesia to meet with the civil society in North Korea.
  3. Requests the Government of North Korea to promptly invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Violations in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman to visit North Korea.

Jakarta, May 10, 2012
Working Committee of KontraS

Haris Azhar