UN resolution condemns North Korea's atrocious human rights record
On 31st October, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee tabled a ten page resolution on the human rights situation in North Korea. The annual resolution sponsored by multiple member states commented on the severe restrictions on civic space in North Korea. In particular, the document referred the highly exploitative system of North Korean overseas workers who's conditions reportedly amount to forced labour. The resolution was adopted on 8th November and stated:
'All-pervasive and severe restrictions, offline and online, on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion or belief, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, the right to privacy and equal access to information, by such means as the unlawful and arbitrary surveillance, persecution, torture, imprisonment and, in some instances, summary executions of individuals exercising their freedom of opinion and expression, religion or belief, and their families, and the right of everyone to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives, of his or her country.'
The resolution comes at a time when the UN Security Council has recently upped sanctions on North Korea, in a bid to deter authorities from pursuing the production and testing of nuclear weapons, and place a cap on coal exports - one of the country's main sources of revenue. Many civic groups claim that the sanctions will exacerbate an already impossible situation for North Korean citizens as famine is rife within the country.
U.N. votes to tighten sanctions on North Korea https://t.co/IlBkiyEo30— TIME (@TIME) November 30, 2016
While there have been no reports of protests from within North Korea, reports have emerged of defectors from the state participating in the mass mobilisations in South Korea. According to a report from Daily NK defectors participated in anti-government protests and gained a deeper understanding of the process of democracy as a consequence. A defector was quoted as saying that through the protest they understood that a country should be dictated by the will of the people and not a sole ruler.
Despite North Korean authorities' investment in jamming technology to censor broadcasts from South Korea, illegal broadcasts and news articles from abroad are one of the only sources of impartial information for many North Koreans. In South Pyongan Province, a source claimed that around 50% to 70% of residents tune into South Korean radio broadcasts even though they know that they'd be severely punished if caught.