UN flag at half-mast for Kim Jong-il

GENEVA, Dec. 28 With UN flags at half-mast today at its Human Rights Council (photo) and other buildings to mark the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, a Geneva-based human rights group called on the UN to show equal sympathy for the victims of Kim’s ruthless regime.

“We understand that the UN follows diplomatic protocol, but the world body must not forget that its founding purpose is to defend basic human rights, and sadly that message is at serious risk of being blurred today,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a leading advocacy group at the UN for human rights in North Korea. See below UN Watch’s recent statements on North Korea.

“Today should be a time for the UN to show solidarity with the victims — the millions of North Koreans brutalized by Kim’s merciless policies of starvation, torture and oppression — and not with the perpetrator,” Neuer said.

“We call on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to make clear that today’s gesture in no way signals respect for a mass murderer of his own people, a man personally responsible for some of the worst atrocities of our time.”

Neuer also expressed concern that the North Korean regime “is likely to exploit the images of flags at half-mast to claim world sympathy for Kim Jong-il and his regime.

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