On 19 September the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals was made public, including three of five cases ISHR has been actively campaigning for, namely the cases of Vanessa Mendoza (Andorra), Kadar Abdi Ibrahim (Djibouti) and the situation of civil society in Hong Kong.
(Geneva) – ‘When I turned 14, my mother and my older brother were publicly executed before my father’s and my eyes….’
The International Service for Human Rights is proud to have supported North Korean human rights defender and the only known escapee of Camp 14, Shin Dong-Hyuk, in giving witness testimony to the UN Human Rights Council about gross human rights violations in North Korea.
Shin, who was born in a North Korean prison camp and forced to watch the public execution of his mother and brother at the age of 14, called for the UN Human Rights Council and global community to ensure freedom for North Korean people and accountability for gross human rights violations in the country.
Shin’s full statement follows:
I thank you for inviting me. My name is Shin Dong Hyuk. And my hometown is in North Korea. At present, I cannot return to my hometown. I was born in a political prisoner camp. My parents were political prisoner and when I was born, I became a political prisoner as well.
When I turned 14 year-old, my mother and my older brother was publicly executed. My father and I had to stand and watched the death of my mother and brother; however, I couldn’t cry at that moment. I never learned how to cry upon my mother and brother’s death in political prisoner camp.
I ask you to open your eyes and look around the room and look for anyone who looks evil. In my eyes, there is not a single person who seems to be evil in this room, but I like you to know that we can find evilness in the heart of man. In Nazi concentration camp, 6 million people were slaughtered by people whose face seemed to reflect goodness of their heart. And 60 years later, at this moment in North Korea, hundred thousands of political prisoners are waiting for their death.
My favourite word is freedom. If North Korean leader has his freedom, then North Korean citizens should also enjoy their freedom. No one has a right to deprive of anyone the DNA of mankind: freedom. I do not have any power in my hand, so I like to ask this from you.
Please relieve my North Korean brothers and sisters from their predicaments.
Thank you for your listening.
You can also watch a video of Shin addressing the Council here.
A UN report has identified dozens of attacks, threats and acts of intimidation by States against human rights defenders or groups who engaged with UN bodies, with new cases including France’s Assa Traoré.
ISHR delivered a statement at the 54th session of the HRC, urging UN member States not to vote for Burundi, China and Russia as they are not fit to sit at the Human Rights Council.