Bush, protesters press for human rights in North Korea | VailDaily.com

Bush, protesters press for human rights in North Korea

WASHINGTON – It was “North Korea Freedom Day” in Washington, and President Bush joined in pushing for an end to the system in charge of that lingering outpost of Soviet-style cult-of-personality government.Bush said he was moved by his meeting at the White House with Sakie Yokota, a Japanese mother whose 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped and spirited away into North Korea 29 years ago.Bush pledged to continue working for freedom, “so that the people of North Korea can raise their children in a world that’s free and hopeful, and so that moms will never again have to worry about an abducted daughter.””It’s hard for Americans to imagine that a leader of any country would encourage the abduction of a young child,” Bush said. “It’s a heartless country that would separate loved ones. If North Korea expects to be respected in the world, that country must respect human rights and human dignity and must allow this mother to hug her child again.”Besides Yokota, Bush also met Gwang Cheol Kim, a former soldier who fled North Korea with and his five-months-pregnant wife, Gwi Ok, seven years ago. He told Bush he was encouraged to leave by South Korean radio broadcasts that disputed the facts presented to North Koreans of how the rest of the world lived.Sixteen blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, on the Capitol lawn, other U.S. officials, at an anti-North Korean rally, joined their boss in wishing for an end to Kim Jong Il’s government.John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote a letter characterizing the North Korean government as “one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.” He said, “We must all work together to keep the spotlight on regimes like North Korea which places their own people in concentration camps for crimes no greater than an aspiration to live freely.”Bolton’s letter was read by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization.”Kim Il Sung, your days are numbered,” Cooper said, referring to the late founder of the North Korean state, whose son Kim Jong Il is the current ruler.”You will soon join Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot in the dustbin of history, and on that day, we will return to these steps to offer our prayers of thanksgiving. But on this day, we gather to declare: ‘Never, never, never again!”‘The special U.S. envoy for human rights in North Korea, Jay Lefkowitz, spoke of North Korea’s “atrocious human rights behavior.””With the help of foreign governments, … we can show the people of North Korea that there is a much brighter future for them,” Lefkowitz said.Vail, Colorado

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