Families of victims abducted by North Korea agents gather at Bangkok symposium
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) hosted an international symposium in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 17 at Kasetsart University’s political science department, supported by the Thai National Human Rights Commission. The family members of the victims of North Korean abductions in South Korea, Japan, and Thailand are set to get together at the event.
The symposium focused on the issue of North Korea’s actions and the response of the international community, covering the forcible disappearance of Japanese and Thai citizens, as well as abductions of South Koreans.
Abductions and forced disappearances by the North Korean state are also said to have been perpetrated against European and Southeast Asian citizens. However, due to complicating factors such as political ramifications and the safety of the victim's families, the issue has not been widely publicized.
The Thai government's response to the abduction issue has been similar and relatively inactive in addressing the problem. However, as a result of the enduring efforts of Banjong Panchoi's, the nephew of abduction victim Anocha Panchoi, the Thai government recently began to show more interest in the abduction issue. In this context, ICNK was permitted to hold a symposium with the cooperation of the Association for the Rescue of North Korea Abductees, Chiangmai (ARNKA), a member organization of ICNK, together with the Thai National Human Rights Commission.
In response, Kwon Eun Kyoung, Secretariat of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea, said, "I hope that those governments who maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea including Thailand will more actively engage them on the issue of abduction. It will be of great help if the Thai government actively cooperates in resolving the issue."
“Forced detainment is one of the more serious human rights violations classified as one of the 'crimes against humanity' stipulated in the Rome Statute by the International Criminal Court (ICC)," Ms. Kwon noted, emphasizing that it is important for NGOs and the families of abductees to raise their voice together to ensure that the UN and the international community remains focused on identifying the parties responsible in North Korea.
"Of all kinds of human rights abuses by the North Korean regime, the abduction issue is strategically very important because it is difficult for the North Korean regime to logically evade its culpability due to the nationalities of the victims and their families," she added.
"Most of all, we must not only confirm the location of the abductees but also push for their repatriation.”
Those who participated in the event include Ha Young Nam, director of the 'Korean War Abductees' Family Union,' Hwang In Cheol, a representative of the 'Korean Air Abductees' Families' (a group of family members of the missing passengers and crew of a Korean Airlines (KAL) aircraft hijacked by North Korea in 1969), Kim Dong Nam, president of the 'International Network for a Free North Korea,' and Teruaki Sumoto, representative of the 'Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN).'