UN condemns IS barbarity in Iraq

Updated 28 February 2015

UN condemns IS barbarity in Iraq

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council has condemned what it described as the latest “barbaric terrorist acts” in Iraq by Islamic State militants, including the destruction of priceless religious and cultural artefacts.
A video published by the ultra-radical Islamist militant group Islamic State on Thursday showed men attacking ancient Assyrian statues and sculptures, some of them identified as antiquities from the 7th century BC, with sledgehammers and drills, saying they were symbols of idolatry.
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the ongoing barbaric terrorist acts in Iraq by ISIL (Islamic State)” the council said in a statement. It also reiterated that the group “must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence, and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.”
Among the recent acts by Islamic State the 15-nation council cited were the abduction of 100 Sunni tribesmen from outside Tikrit, the immolation of 45 Iraqis and daily attacks targeting civilians in Baghdad.
It also condemned “the deliberate destruction of irreplaceable religious and cultural artefacts housed in the Mosul Museum and burning of thousands of books and rare manuscripts from the Mosul Library.”
Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria and has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including mass murder, beheadings, burning hostages alive and other atrocities.
Earlier this month the Security Council banned all trade in antiquities from war-torn Syria, threatened sanctions on anyone buying oil from Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front terrorists and urged states to stop kidnap ransom payments.
It is not clear how much money Islamic State has generate from sale of illicitly traded antiquities, but Security Council diplomats have said that it was significant.
The head of the UN culture, education and science agency UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also condemned the destruction of artefacts in the Mosul Museum.
“I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred,” she said in a statement.


11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

  • The resumption of Mt Kumgang tours has been repeatedly mentioned as a possibility by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in recent years

UNITED NATIONS: Food insecurity in North Korea “is at an alarming level,” with nearly half the population — 11 million people — undernourished, the UN independent investigator on human rights in the country said Tuesday.
Tomas Ojea Quintana told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that 140,000 children are estimated to be suffering from “undernutrition,” including 30,000 who “face an increased risk of death.”
Quintana said the government, which has primary responsibility for ensuring access to food, “is violating its human rights obligations due to its failing economic and agricultural policies.”
In addition, he said, “climate conditions, infertile land, natural disasters and the negative impact of sanctions have contributed to further food insecurity.”
More broadly, Quintana said he has seen no improvement in North Korea’s human rights situation during his three years as special rapporteur.
“The country’s economic resources are being diverted away from the essential needs of the people,” he said. “Pervasive discrimination in the public distribution system means that ordinary citizens, especially farmers and people in rural areas, have not been receiving any rations.”
Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity.
“At the same time, the government has failed to put in place conditions where people can securely engage in trade and exchange in marketplaces without facing criminalization, extortion and other forms of abuse,” he said. Nonetheless, he added, the vast majority of North Koreans “are now engaged in such market activity for their survival.”
Ironically, he said, the government’s failure to regulate nascent market activity is creating increasing inequality based on wealth, “where only those with money have access to basic rights such as education, health care, freedom of movement and adequate housing.”
Quintana said severe restrictions on basic freedoms continue to be widespread, including surveillance and close monitoring of civilians.
“North Korean people continue to live in the entrenched fear of being sent to a political prison camp,” called a kwanliso, he said.
“If you are considered to be a spy of the hostile countries or a traitor, when in reality you are simply exercising your basic human rights, you can be suddenly taken by agents of the Ministry of State Security to a kwanliso and never be seen again,” Quintana said. “Suspects’ families are never informed of the decisions or of the whereabouts of their relatives.”
On the issue of North Koreans who have fled to China, Quintana said in the past six months he has received information from family members living in South Korea of an increasing number of these escapees being detained in China.
He said any North Korean who escapes should not be forcibly returned because there are substantial grounds they would be tortured or subjected to other human rights violations.
“I appreciate the government of China’s increased engagement with me on this concern, and I hope that this will lead to greater compliance with international standards,” he said.
Quintana said North Korea has accepted 132 recommendations from other UN member states, including one “to grant immediate, free and unimpeded access to international humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to the most vulnerable groups, including prisoners.” He said this could lead to the first international access to places of detention, “and could therefore be an opportunity to improve prison conditions.”