Church in Chains, 8 September 2021 (excerpts)
A new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom describes the North Korean government’s religious freedom violations as an “absolute denial of religious freedom”.
The report was launched on 18 August and is based on interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of religious freedom violations, the perpetrators being former North Korean government officials. The majority of interviewees had escaped from North Korea in 2019.
The investigators identified 68 cases of the state prosecuting individuals for their religion or belief or for their association with religious persons. Victims suffered human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and the denial of life.
Its authors state: “The North Korean government poses an acute challenge to its citizens’ enjoyment of their right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.”
They go on to say, “We find that the denial of religious freedom is absolute. Our findings establish that the persecution of individuals exercising their right to religious freedom in North Korea goes well beyond a government neglecting its duty to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.
“It also extends beyond a government persecuting one or more social groups for their religion or belief. Rather, the situation that exists is one where the state enforces the absolute denial of religious belief through the active mobilisation of organs of the government.”