North Korea ‘executed’ officials after failed Trump summit

Previous South Korean reports of North Korean purges and executions have later proved inaccurate. (AP)
Updated 31 May 2019
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North Korea ‘executed’ officials after failed Trump summit

  • One of the officials was executed by firing squad for “betraying the supreme leader” after he was turned by the US
  • Kim Jong Un and Trump left the Vietnamese capital without a deal after they failed to reach agreement

SEOUL: North Korea executed its special envoy to the United States following the collapse of the second summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
The Chosun Ilbo said Kim Hyok Chol, who laid the groundwork for the Hanoi meeting and accompanied Kim on his private train, was executed by firing squad for “betraying the supreme leader” after he was turned by the US.
“Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March at Mirim Airport along with four senior foreign ministry officials following an investigation,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.
The other officials were not named.
Kim Hyok Chol was the North’s counterpart of US special representative Stephen Biegun in the run-up to the Hanoi summit in February.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, declined to comment on the report.
The paper also said Kim Jong Un’s interpreter Shin Hye Yong was sent to a prison camp for a mistake at the summit.
She failed to translate Kim’s new proposal when Trump declared “no deal” and walked away from the table, Chosun reported, citing another unnamed diplomatic source.
Kim Jong Un and Trump left the Vietnamese capital without a deal after they failed to reach agreement on rolling back Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The North has since sought to raise the pressure and carried out two short-range missile tests in May.
Senior party official Kim Yong Chol, the North’s counterpart to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in nuclear talks, was also sent to a labor camp, the paper said.
In April, South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee said Kim Yong Chol had been censured over his handling of the Hanoi summit, despite the fact he had recently been named a member of the State Affairs Commission, a supreme governing body chaired by Kim Jong Un.
News of the reported purge came as North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling party, Thursday warned that officials who committed anti-party or anti-revolutionary acts would face the “stern judgment of the revolution.”
Previous South Korean reports of North Korean purges and executions have later proved inaccurate.
The Chosun Ilbo itself incorrectly reported in 2013 that Hyon Song Wol, head of the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, was executed by firing squad for distributing and watching pornographic content.
And the Unification Ministry also mistakenly announced in February 2016 that Ri Yong Gil, chief of the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, had been executed.


US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

This file photo taken on July 19, 2018, shows Myanmar's Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, saluting to pay his respects to Myanmar independence hero General Aung San and eight others assassinated in 1947, during a ceremony to mark the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon. (AFP)
Updated 13 min 18 sec ago
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US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

  • A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh
  • A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders it said were responsible for extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims, barring them from entry to the United States.
The steps, which also covered Min Aung Hlaing’s deputy, Soe Win, and two other senior commanders and their families, are the strongest the United States has taken in response to massacres of minority Rohingyas in Myanmar, also known as Burma. It named the two others as Brig. Generals Than Oo and Aung Aung.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo said a recent disclosure that Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at the village of Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in 2017 was “one egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”
“The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days,” Pompeo said.
The Inn Din massacre was uncovered by two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.
The US announcement came on the first day of an international ministerial conference on religious freedom hosted by Pompeo at the State Department that was attended by Rohingya representatives.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” said Pompeo, who has been a strong advocate of religious freedom.

“GROSS VIOLATIONS“
“We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.”
A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. UN investigators have said that Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent.”
The State Department has so far stopped short of calling the abuses genocide, referring instead to ethic cleansing and a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities.
“He (Pompeo) has not come to the point at which he has decided to make a further determination. Generally our policies are focused on changing behavior, promoting accountability, and we have taken today’s actions with those goals in mind,” a senior State Department official told reporters, asking not to be named.
The military in Myanmar, where Buddhism is the main religion, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.
A declaration of genocide by the US government could require Washington to impose even stronger sanctions on Myanmar, a country with which it has competed for influence with regional rival China.
The senior State Department official said Washington hoped the latest steps would strengthen the hand of the civilian government in Myanmar in its effort to amend the constitution to reduce military influence in politics.
“Our hope is that these actions ... will help to further delegitimize the current military leadership, and can help the civilian government gain control of the military,” he said.
The Trump administration had thus far imposed sanctions on four military and police commanders and two army units involved in the abuses against the Rohingya and had been under pressure from US Congress to take tougher steps.
A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes.