In what could be described as an irony of epic proportions, North Korea, known for its egregious human rights violation record, expressed ‘grave concerns’ on the ‘human rights violations’, including alleged racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia in Australia. North Korea raised these concerns about Australia during the universal period review at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Speaking at the UN assembly, Pyongyang representative Han Tae Song, whose country is described by the Human Rights Watch as ‘one of the most repressive countries in the world’, had the gall of providing a laundry list of reasons why North Korea was concerned about Australia’s treatment of its people.
“First, to end deep-rooted racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia on the basis of ethnic, racial, cultural or religious background in the public sphere,” Song said.
“Two, to cease cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in public places of detention.”
“Three, to ensure the right of persons with disabilities, including participation in elections on an equal basis with others and revoking of … policies and practices that result in the arbitrary and indefinite detention of persons with disabilities,” Song said.
“We reference the international human rights law and recommend that Australia follows it,” he added.
The irony of the fact that the isolated and totalitarian dictatorship of North Korea — where millions are on the brink of starvation and where speaking one’s mind out could result in execution — had a lesson or two on how Australia should protect and preserve human rights of its people was not lost on people.
Australia’s Liberal MP Dave Sharma branded the comments made by the North Korean representative as “an attempt at the irony”. The British journalist Andrew Neil said the remarks by North Korea were “beyond parody”.
The unabated repression of human rights in North Korea
It is a well-documented fact that the Kim Jong Un regime in North Korea has been unapologetic and indifferent in curtailing the human rights of its population. Arbitrary imprisonment, unpaid forced labour, enforced disappearances, detentions, random executions and denying basic freedoms to its citizens have become a norm in the totalitarian regime bent on controlling every aspect of its citizens.
The repression had intensified in the wake of the coronavirus crisis when the crumbling healthcare infrastructure in the country was soon overwhelmed with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. It was also reported that North Korea was using the cover of COVID-19 to further suppress the human rights of its people.
The Human rights organisations said that the North Korean regime ordered “extreme” steps to stop the spread of the COVID-19. It sealed the borders with Russia and China and passed an order, authorising “unconditionally shoot” on sight anybody crossing its borders without permission.
Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime is also known to have designated the quarantine violators as “Special Criminals” and sent them to camps where they were allegedly put through horrendous conditions that led to many deaths.