A few posts ago, I highlighted the new reports of the North Korean prison camps, which featured eyewitness reports of inconceivably cruel acts of abuse on children and families. A mother forced to drown her baby by prison guards because the baby was crying; a seven year old girl beaten to death for stealing some grain to feed her malnourished family, the list of atrocities goes on. I first read the reports in The Guardian a year ago and then, rather bizarrely, read a report in Grazia sandwiched between features on Kim Kardashian and London Fashion Week. Despite the trivial editorial surroundings, I was pleased to see a woman’s glossy tackling serious subjects. I hope I wasn’t the only one to contact their local MP after reading the article. Many readers in Grazia’s demographic readership under-use their MPs. I hope that times are changing to a state where more and more young people are contacting their MPs about issues they care about, this in turn will help MPs and Government gain a broader understanding of concerns across the age ranges.
It is easy to contact my local MP, Francis Maude, I just fill in an online form. Within a few days I get a written response back, addressed and signed by Francis, with a detailed response to my questions. Although I shouldn’t expect anything less, in this over-populated world it is easy to assume your voice will be lost. That is why it is heartening to receive a response that assures you the concern is on the Government’s agenda and that they are doing what they can to support and influence the UN. These are the key facts in the Government’s level of intervention as outlined by the Rt Hon Francis Maude:
– The UK Government has raised the subject of the persecution of minorities with the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a number of occasions, most recently in November 2013.
– The North Korean Ministry delegation were shown around a prison, for them to observe how a humane prison system operates (although judging by the reports, most of the thousands of people in North Korean prisons did not receive a fair trial and did not commit a crime at all, rather related to someone who might have said something against Kim Jong-U and who could blame them?
– The UK Government last year co-sponsored two human rights resolutions in the UN and supported the introduction of a UN commission of inquiry, which will report to the Human Rights Council later this month.
– Francis Maude concluded with an assurance that while significant progress on human rights in North Korea is difficult because of the North Korean Government’s refusal to enter into meaningful discussion on such matters, the UK will continue to push for further improvements through all possible avenues.
I am hoping the ‘off record’ message is that they are gathering Intel wherever possible and that action can be taken in a more physical sense as well as diplomatic. One man and his family cannot cause so much suffering and be allowed to get away with it.
I am now going to thank Francis for his prompt and comprehensive response. If MPs across the UK respond like Francis then there is a more positive future ahead for the reputation of UK politics.
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Thanks for reading.