NK condemns US human rights report
North Korea has lashed out at the United States for its recent annual report critical of Pyongyang's dismal human rights conditions, calling the move a "product of the U.S. hostile policy" toward the North.
"We bitterly condemn the despicable human rights report worked out by the U.S.," the foreign ministry said in an English-language statement carried late Tuesday by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
The ministry claimed that the U.S. report is based on rumors concocted by a handful of traitors and criminals who left their homeland, referring to North Korean defectors in the South.
South Korea is home to more than 23,500 North Korean defectors. Many of them have testified about a wide range of human rights abuses in the communist country, including torture, public executions and political prison camps.
The North's angry reaction came days after the U.S. State Department said in an annual report that the North's human rights conditions remain "extremely poor."
The report said that North Korea subjected its 24 million people to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives and that there continued to be reports of a vast network of political prison camps in which conditions were often harsh and life threatening.
Amnesty International, a London-based human rights advocacy group, also estimated in its separate annual report last week that up to 200,000 prisoners were held in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps.
The North has flatly denied accusations of its alleged rights abuses, describing them as a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.
"The U.S. unchanged human rights racket against the (North) is, in essence, a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward the (North) to isolate and stifle at any cost its socialist system," the foreign ministry statement said.
It also accused the U.S of being the "world's worst human rights abuser," claiming the U.S. has massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in different parts of the world through aggression and interference. (Yonhap)