As the refugee crisis continues to dominate headlines, North Korea has weighed in with its opinion on the matter.
North Korean officials never let an opportunity to criticize the United States pass them by. The current crisis is the largest wave of migration in Europe since World War II, and it also happens to be the latest stick that Pyongyang has used to beat Washington, according to AFP.
North Korea: Washington caused refugee crisis by instigating conflicts
Officials in Pyongyang regularly expound against the U.S. in official releases replete with flowery language and overwrought threats. European leaders may or may not have been waiting for an opinion from the secretive nation thousands of miles away, but that did not stop North Korea from blaming the crisis on the “evil empire” of the United States.
Their latest statement denounced “intolerable” Western criticism of Pyongyang’s human rights record, and a spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry claimed that the U.S. should be questioned on its own actions. “The US is an evil empire… committing all sorts of human rights abuses,” the spokeswoman said in a statement published by the official KCNA news agency.
The spokeswoman went on to argue that the U.S. has caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of migrants from areas of conflict such as Syria and Afghanistan. Many refugees currently traveling to Europe hail from those two countries, both of which have been subject to U.S.-led airstrikes.
Pyongyang defends its own human rights record
“It is the US which caused the serious refugee issue sweeping the whole of Europe,” she said. “As the US started wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other parts of the world, and fostered civil wars under the pretexts of ‘war on terrorism’ and establishment of ‘democracy,’ refugees have been on a sharp increase,” he added.
Not content with criticizing Washington, the statement went on to defend North Korea’s record. By comparison, North Korea apparently offered a “cradle of happy life.”
The statement followed a recent discussion of North Korea’s respect for human rights at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Kim regime has long been accused of maintaining a system of labor camps, where political prisoners are held in dire conditions.
Gruesome stories of executions, including one unfortunate official reportedly killed using an anti-aircraft gun, regularly emerge from the secretive country. Defectors from the closed state corroborate some of the tales, but definitive evidence is hard to come by.
International scrutiny of human rights in North Korea
Given the pressing need for the defense of human rights in North Korea, a special United Nations field office has been set up in the South Korean capital of Seoul. The aim is to monitor human rights abuses in the North, and early reports have been horrifying.
The commission accused North Korea of perpetrating human rights abuses that are “without parallel in the contemporary world.” Such claims angered current North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, who consistently decries foreign attempts to influence his country.
Despite deepening economic problems and the threat of forced labor or execution for dissenters, recent defectors from North Korea report that support for Kim Jong-un remains solid among the population. Tight control over information which enters and leaves the country, alongside effective state propaganda, have enabled Kim to convince his subjects that North Korea is viewed with great prestige in the wider world.
Even if you believe that, “cradle of happy life” is surely pushing things a little too far.