N. Korea blasts U.S. human rights report

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has blasted a report by a U.S. human rights watchdog criticizing allegedly widespread sexual violence against women in the North, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Sunday.

The response comes after Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said, in a press conference held in Seoul last week, that sexual violence is one of the most serious human rights violations in North Korea and that it has not drawn as much attention as prison camps and other abuses but noted that it could be an easy one to change.

The Korean Association for Human Rights Studies in North Korea claimed the "preposterous" report is "a part of political scheme fabricated by the hostile forces -- who oppose peace and stability on the Korean peninsula -- to tarnish the image of the North. It is also an extremely dangerous provocation aimed at reversing the tide of peace and prosperity on the peninsula," the KCNA reported.

The North Korean association called the U.S. report filled with "abnormal and inflammatory" words and said the report is a serious political provocation against the North, it said.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, Roth said, "Kim Jong-un would not be able to divert the huge resources needed to build the nuclear program from the impoverished people ... if it were not for the fact that they are not able to protest, they are not able to speak up," he added. "Human rights violations are an integral part of nuclear threat and it is a mistake to divorce the two."

In 2014, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on North Korea said that North Koreans who are forcibly repatriated from China "are commonly subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, forced abortions and other sexual violence."

North Korea has also long been accused of grave human rights abuses ranging from holding political prisoners in prison camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, North Korea has bristled at outside criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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