WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said it himself to Congress and the American people: “No regime has suppressed its own people more completely or brutal than the brutal dictatorship in North Korea.”
But when it comes to the rights of the human being, don’t expect Trump to keep Kim Jong-Un’s feet to the fire at the Singapore summit. The focus is in the area of nuclear weapons, and the young autocrat’s international status is likely to be reinforced, regardless of the outcome.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s historic face-to-face with Kim, Trump has appeared unconcerned about the implications of feting an authoritarian leader who is suspected to be of the order of the public murder of his half-brother with a nerve agent, the execution of his uncle by firing squad, and preside over a notorious gulag, estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.
While Trump highlighted Pyongyang’s problematic human rights situation in January during his State of the Union address, in which he also said that the “corrupt nature of the North Korean regime” demonstrated that the nature of the nuclear threat — the president has along these objections since agreeing in March to Kim’s suggestion of a top.
When Trump met the former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol in the White House, two weeks ago, the president said that they did not discuss the rights of the individual, with the emphasis that it is not a primary concern. At a pre-summit briefing by Secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Monday, the problem is not to mention.
Robert King, who served as the envoy of the V. S. on the North Korean human rights issues under the Obama administration, said Trump has made of the rights of man as an instrument for Kim Jong Un to negotiate about nuclear weapons, but not as a policy priority in its own right.
“The other problem is that he is eager to see what the progress is on the top, and the rights of the human being is not an easy topic to raise with Kim Jong-Un,” King said.
AMERICAN presidents always have to deal with a situation in balancing the national security and geopolitical priorities with democratic values. But Trump has notably avoided calling authoritarian leaders on the rights of the man, when he wants closer ties with them, both adversaries like China and Russia, and allies such as Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
At the same time, he is a confrontational path in the direction of Western allies in the areas of trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He bounced to the Singapore top after a strong G-7 summit, the U.S. was isolated from the main European partners like never before and Trump even laughed at his Canadian host, a paragon of liberal democracy, as “unfair” and “weak.”
Kim, meanwhile, will be granted a measure of validation from Washington that eluded his father and grandfather. They only ever meet with the former AMERICAN presidents, a symptom of six decades of hostility between the U.S. and North Korea, which is still a pariah in the eyes of the West, not only for its nuclear and missile threats, but for flouting international norms of diplomatic behavior.
Human-rights advocates, who praised Trump when he hosted eight North Korean defectors in the White House days after his State of the Union speech are now worried about his involvement with Kim, which the president recently praised as a “very honorable.”
Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the AMERICAN Commission for human Rights in North Korea, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper at the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Trump to search “the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling” of North Korean camps for political prisoners — the mimicking of the formulation used by the US in the demand for that country’s denuclearization.
“Kim Jong Un wants safety guarantees,” she wrote Monday, “but history has taught time and again of the liberal democracy should not seek to guarantee the survival of a scheme that runs camps for political prisoners and commits crimes against humanity.”
Over a quarter of a century of negotiations, the rights of man have played second fiddle for AMERICAN administrations seek to improve the threat of the North-nukes, and there is a reason for that. The increase of the human rights risks in the North Korean suspicions that the U. S was intent on the overthrow of its hereditary, totalitarian regime by seeking to ensure an open political system, which only reinforces Pyongyang the idea that it is a nuclear deterrent to ensure its survival.
Joseph Yun, the former U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, alluded to that when he told a Senate hearing last week that there is a risk of “overloading the agenda” for the summit. He said that if the US will offer North Korea the security guarantees it seeks in return for denuclearisation, “it also means that you do not intend to interfere in the domestic events, domestic politics” — such as the rights of man.
But John Sifton, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch in Washington, alleges that the rights of business can not be separated from the goal of reaching a nuclear deal with North Korea. International inspections and control of such a deal would be more openness of the North, usually are allergic for external control. And under a 2016 U.S. law, exemption from U.S. sanctions targeting the North Korean government would require that the progress on human rights, ” he said.
While the rights of the human being will get a low billing in Singapore, Trump is still not completely over the problem.
After he met Kim’s close aide Kim Yong Chol on June 1, Trump said: the rights of man “probably” would be discussed at the summit, and he has a number of times to the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s a long-term request of the Japanese Prime minister shinzo Abe that he repeated that the president in the person of last week.