Activists may take China to UN

Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of the ruling Saenuri Party, second from right, and other human rights activists attend a rally in front of Okin Church near the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to protest China’s human rights abuses of Kim Young-hwan, a right activist for North Korean defectors, Thursday. / Yonhap

Activists said Thursday they would take China’s alleged torture of human rights activist Kim Young-hwan to the U.N. this month with evidence, embarking on a campaign to raise international awareness of Beijing’s human rights abuses.

Choi Hong-jae, a spokesman of the committee, demanded China tell the truth about Kim, make an apology and promise not to abuse human rights again.

“Unless China responds to our calls within a week, we will take all necessary measures,” Choi told a rally to launch the committee held at Okin Church near the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.

Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of the ruling Saenuri Party, human rights lawyers, activists, and professors participated in the rally to voice their concern about the torture allegation and ratchet up pressure on China to be a responsible country.

Activists here plan to team up with local and international human rights groups, and seek help from the U.N. Human Rights Council as well as the U.S. Congress and the European Union Parliament.

Choi said the committee members will submit a petition to the U.N. rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment with evidence supporting that Kim was tortured.

To obtain such evidence, Kim, who was released weeks ago after 114 days of detention in China, had a medical checkup Wednesday at a hospital in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.

Footage from magnetic resonance imaging of Kim showed a bruise in the area between his eyes and cheekbones, which his doctor said could have been caused by a previous external injury. Kim is scheduled to have a thorough medical checkup to confirm the timing of the bruise.

According to forensic experts, it will be challenging for Kim to find physical torture evidence because nearly four months have passed since torture is assumed to have taken place.

The 49-year-old is scheduled to take a post-traumatic stress disorder test next week.

“If post-traumatic stress disorder is detected, experts said this also can be evidence to support that China tortured him,” Choi said.

The committee will ask the U.N. Human Rights Council whether Kim can have the opportunity to testify about his experiences at a non-governmental group session in September.

The committee plans to gather information on China’s human rights abuses of North Korean refugees to raise international awareness.

Activists called on the government and the National Assembly to support their efforts.

On Wednesday, the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party agreed to submit a resolution calling for the government to set up a fact-finding team to investigate. <The Korea Times/Kang Hyun-kyung>

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