Sure, we can complain that the United Nations has become a farce, but hey, we all elected for ‘em, right?
So you’ve heard that there are lives to be saved, and international conventions that would save them, if only some effective international body was capable of enforcing those conventions. Enter a group of members of the South Korean National Assembly, who flew to Geneva to make an appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Council to save about 30 North Korean refugees — or freedmen, if you prefer — from being repatriated by China to a North Korean gulag. This particular group may or may not have already been sent back to North Korea, but thousands more will assuredly follow. Or try to.
When the appeal to the UNHRC having been about as effective as you’d have guessed, said parliamentarians engaged in some role-reversal by staging a fist-fight with the North Koreans present. Which I do not endorse. Officially.
South Korean lawmakers have scuffled with North Korean delegates in Switzerland at a U.N. meeting on the North’s alleged human rights abuses. About three or four South Korean lawmakers tried to grab a North Korean diplomat leaving the meeting in Geneva as they chanted slogans against China’s policy of repatriating North Korean defectors, footage from Yonhap news agency shot Monday showed.
The lawmakers were pushed away by security and North Korean delegates. U.N. spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian confirmed the scuffle, saying Tuesday that the South Koreans “behaved aggressively.
“This is obviously a regrettable incident (and) unacceptable behavior,” she said. The incident came amid reports that China is returning dozens of North Koreans to their communist homeland instead of letting them defect to the capitalist South.
What’s that? You say you want to see video? Why, of course I have video!
The U.N. finds the (justifiably) obnoxious behavior of the South Koreans unacceptable. So what does the U.N. have to say about China sending refugees to gulags, or North Korea torturing them to death there? Also, who the hell invited North Korea to participate in a U.N. meeting about human rights? Invited? Subpoenaed would have been more like it.
South Korea’s public reaction against China’s contempt for the lives of North Koreans is rising, if slowly. Movie stars and racing girls are showing up at regular protests in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul. Even Hillary Clinton had something to say about it:
Speaking at a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan, Clinton did not comment directly on reports by refugee advocates in Seoul that China has repatriated the North Koreans arrested last month. But she “urged every country to act according to international obligations,” including the 1951 UN refugee convention and the 1967 protocol.
“The United States shares the concerns by both the government and the people of the Republic of (South) Korea about the human rights situation in North Korea and the treatment of North Korean refugees,” the chief US diplomat said.
“We believe that refugees should not be repatriated and subjected once again to the dangers that they fled from,” Clinton said in a carefully parsed answer when asked about China’s reported repatriation of the refugees. [AFP]
China’s reaction is characteristically thuggish, including unspecified threats against South Korean nationals and interests in China. Meanwhile, North Korea is actually protesting South Korea’s opposition to the repatriation of the refugees.
On a related note, here’s a link to a Washington Post op-ed by Gov. Kim Moon-Soo.