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Activists urge South Korea to raise human rights abuses at summit with North

Activists urge South Korea to raise human rights abuses at summit with North

A coalition of activist groups on Tuesday urged South Korea to raise the issue of North Korea's internationally condemned human rights record when leaders of the two countries meet in October.
President Roh Moo-hyun should demand that the North abolish or at least decrease some of its "most cruel and inhumane crimes," such as public executions, political prisoner camps, and the punishment and torture of would-be defectors who are repatriated, the groups said in a statement.
The activists also said the South should raise the issues of prisoners of war and people abducted by Pyongyang who are still in the North, along with the lack of religious freedom in the reclusive communist country.
Roh is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Oct. 2-4 in Pyongyang, in the second ever summit between the two countries.
Roh's government has maintained the "sunshine policy" of his predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, who held the first summit with the North's Kim in 2000.
In the interest of maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula, the South has played down differences with its nuclear-armed neighbor and has refrained from public comment on human rights issues.
North Korea reacts angrily to any mention of its human rights record, and has said such criticism is part of American attempts to topple the regime.
Earlier this month, the main U.S. presidential envoy on human rights in North Korea also said Seoul should raise the issue at the summit, arguing there could not be normal relations between Pyongyang and Washington without changes.
The coalition of rights groups includes a variety of religious and civic organizations, such as those that help North Korean refugees and others seeking the release of South Koreans abducted by the North. Among those included were the U.S.-based North Korea Freedom Coalition, and South Korea's Durihana Mission.


Updated : 2021-06-22 23:14 GMT+08:00