North Korea says human rights is obstacle to peace

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  July 11, 2018 at 11:55 AM
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July 11 (UPI) -- North Korea is challenging critics of the country's human rights record and taking aim at the United States and South Korea for raising a thorny issue in the past.

Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun issued a statement Wednesday, urging Washington and Seoul to "kick aside" its policy of pressing Pyongyang on its rights record.

"The United States and South Korea must kick aside its anachronistic human rights pressure play that provokes the opposing party," the Rodong said in its statement.

Allegations of human rights abuses were also described as a "disturbance of the old order" by the state newspaper.

"The plot to create disturbances with human rights toward [North Korea] is a challenge to our efforts at peace, which is bringing an end to the Cold War and contributing to the security of the region and the world," the Rodong stated. "[Human rights] makes a mockery of the international community, which hopes for improvements in the U.S.-North Korea relationship."

The newspaper added that "now is the time to resolve the distrust" between the two countries, and despite progress the United States is "still struggling with anachronistic human rights pressure."

The Rodong also warned the "South Korean authorities" against engaging in "anti-North Korea human rights disturbances," which are the "main source of distrust and confrontation between North and South."

North Korea has told the international community its rights record is without fault, but the United Nations says North Korea must open up and talk about abuses.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea human rights, said on Tuesday North Korea needs to engage on rights "as a concrete sign of their commitment, which will only serve to reinforce the ongoing process."

A humanitarian crisis in the country is worsening, he said.

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