North Korea’s unjust confinement and subsequent death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier should laser-focus the world’s attention on the human-rights abuses of this rogue regime.
Anyone with human feelings is outraged by North Korea’s murder of Otto Warmbier.
The term “murder” is justified, although we don’t know exactly how this bright, adventurous student was brutalized after his arrest on a tourist visit to North Korea. No other word describes the crime of sentencing Otto to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster, then holding him for more than a year while he lay in a coma — and ending diplomatic access to him.
Yet note that, unlike U.S. Sen. John McCain, President Trump did not use the word murder in denouncing Warmbier’s death.
That’s because the Trump team, like three previous administrations, is struggling to find a strategy to prevent Pyongyang from fully developing nuclear weapons. Trump advisers must have warned him to avoid threats that might provoke North Korea.
So will there ever be justice for Otto? And will there ever be punishment for North Korea’s human-rights crimes against its own people, which may rival those of the Nazis or Khmer Rouge in their horror and scope?
“In the dichotomy between the nuclear issue and the extraordinary human and personalized dimension of what North Korea has wrought, the human rights piece gets overlooked,” says Scott A. Snyder, director of the program on U.S.-Korea relations at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Few Americans are aware of the massive system of concentration camps run by the North Koreans for anyone deemed the least critical of the regime — and for the families of such “traitors.” A U.N. commission report, in 2014, complete with satellite photos of the camps, estimated that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over five decades.
“The inmate population has been gradually…