NEW YORK (June 14, 2021) – Last week, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent letters to the leaders of the G7, meeting in Cornwall from 11–13 June 2021, urging them to put North Korean human rights on the global agenda.
Since the spread of the Covid-19 virus, North Korea has enacted the strictest and most brutal restrictions of any country. North Korea officially closed its borders and refuses to let its own citizens return, leaving tens of thousands overseas workers in limbo, most of whom are in China. North Korea’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) has ordered border guards to shoot at anyone attempting to cross the border to and from China. In January 2021, for example, a North Korean citizen trying to escape to China was shot and killed. Last September, a North Korean citizen crossing the border from China was killed on the spot by border guards, and the MSS rewarded the guard who killed the citizen as well as his squad commander with a holiday.
This is not the first time that the North Korean regime has committed human rights abuses against its own people. In June 2019, three men attempting to defect to China were shot dead by border guards. In addition, the MSS lured a defector living in China to return home in exchange for an official passport, but instead arrested the man and his family upon his return — they have not been seen or heard from since then. Other human rights violations listed in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report persist, including violations of freedom of movement and residence; extrajudicial executions; arbitrary detention and torture, and forced labor camps; as well as abductions and enforced disappearances of Japanese citizens and North Koreans living in neighboring countries — all amounting to crimes against humanity.
HRF respectfully requests the leaders of the G7, as the heads of state of the world’s leading democracies, to keep championing democratic values and promoting a freer, fairer, and more prosperous North Korea. The letter was delivered via email to the UK Cabinet Office, which is overseeing communications related to the G7 summit in Cornwall. It can be read in its entirety here.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For further comment, please contact [email protected]