WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- An international women's peace walk through the Korean peninsula's forbidden demilitarized zone is under criticism from human rights advocates.
The May 24 walk includes Nobel laureates, disarmament activists and U.S. feminist Gloria Steinem. On Friday The New York Times reported organizers received conditional approval for the walk from both Seoul and Pyongyang.
Activists involved said they are calling for a permanent peace to replace the 1953 armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War but did not end tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Cora Weiss, president of The Hague Appeal for Peace has said, "We're calling for an end to the world's longest war, which has not ended, and for women to be involved in all aspects of the peace process."
But on Sunday, Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said the peace walk across the 2.5-mile wide demilitarized zone is for North Korea "nothing but human rights theater intended to cover up its death camps and crimes against humanity."
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Cooper and Scarlatoiu said Steinem and fellow activists should review the U.N. Commission of Inquiry report on North Korean human rights abuses.
"Those most vulnerable to these policies are North Korean women, and many are murdered by this merciless regime," the article read.
Earlier on Friday the peace walk organizers rejected criticism from other human rights advocates and defended the project.
Suzy Kim, a participant and a professor of Korean history at Rutgers University said, "If we're trying to initiate a project for long-term peacebuilding measures, it seems that it's not quite right to go in with an attack."
Cooper and Scarlatoiu questioned Pyongyang's motives and wrote, "If Pyongyang truly is interested in a peace gesture, it might start by releasing hundreds of South Korean POWs, now in their 80s and 90s, who were never allowed to return to their loved ones after the armistice."