Birthday Celebrations for North Korean Leader Hide Human Rights Violations: HRW

Birthday Celebrations for North Korean Leader Hide Human Rights Violations: HRW
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

The dictator last year celebrated his birthday by testing what he called 'a devastating hydrogen bomb.' What will happen this year?

Preparations are taking place in North Korea to celebrate the 33rd birthday of the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un, but Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that the celebratory events “only spotlight the daily reality of terrible human rights abuses North Koreans face.”

HRW says the North Korean leader’s power is based on “fear and repression,” and the celebrations are all about praising the Kim family’s “notoriously brutal rule.”

“The suffering of the North Korean people needs to stop, and the best way for that to happen is to hold Kim Jong-Un and other senior leaders accountable for the abuses they have inflicted on the people,” says HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

The dictator last year celebrated his birthday by testing what he called “a devastating hydrogen bomb,” which caused a 5.1 magnitude earthquake and cracked a school’s playground in China.

The event led to world leaders calling on the United Nations to take action and all 15 members of the organization’s security council said the nuclear test was “a clear threat to international peace and security.” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the test was “deeply troubling” and “profoundly destabilizing for regional security,” while the Beijing government said that North Korea should “stop taking any actions that would make the situation worse.”

North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons since it began a research program in the 1950s, and in 2015 had an estimated 15 to 20 nuclear weapons, according to The Telegraph. It has carried out four nuclear tests so far, and in his New Year speech on Jan. 1, Kim Jong-un said that North Korea was in the “final stage” of developing intercontinental ballistic missile.

After Kim Jong-Un’s testing of the hydrogen bomb last year, former British ambassador to North Korea John Everard wrote in The Telegraph that “it is dangerous to assume that North Korea would never really use a nuclear weapon” and “in the strange, closed world of North Korea it is quite possible that the leadership has convinced itself that craven foreigners would not dare to counter-attack if it used a nuclear device.”

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has also spoken about the issue. During the election campaign last year, Trump said it was China’s responsibility to “solve the problem” of North Korea and if it failed to do so, the U.S. “should make trade very difficult for China.” He also added that Kim Jong-un is a "madman."

On Jan. 3, the U.S. president-elect via Twitter once again took aim at China for benefitting from trade with the U.S. while not doing its bit to rein in North Korea.

"China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the US in totally one-sided trade, but won't help with North Korea. Nice!," he tweeted. [sic]

In an earlier tweet, Trump dismissed North Korea’s claim of developing missiles capable of striking America, saying, “It won’t happen.”

Editor: Edward White


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