Trump’s most offensive state­ment on North Korea

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News -

OVER the past cou­ple of days, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made a num­ber of false state­ments re­gard­ing North Korea and his sum­mit meet­ing with its leader, Kim Jong Un. Some of these may be harm­less. Some may be jus­ti­fi­able in the con­text of a nascent diplo­matic process. One, how­ever, is ob­tuse, offensive and harm­ful.

“His coun­try does love him,” Trump said, speak­ing to ABC’S Ge­orge Stephanopou­los. “His peo­ple, you see the fer­vour. They have a great fer­vour.”

Yes, you see the fer­vour, be­cause any­one in North Korea who does not dis­play fer­vour for their leader may end up in a con­cen­tra­tion camp. No one in North Korea may crit­i­cise Kim and ex­pect to sur­vive. If some­one is sus­pected of dis­loy­alty, his or her en­tire fam­ily is li­able to be im­pris­oned or killed. Be­tween 80,000 and 120,000 peo­ple are kept in these po­lit­i­cal con­cen­tra­tion camps, and al­most none sur­vive or are ever re­leased. Rape and forcible abor­tion and in­fan­ti­cide are the poli­cies of the camps.

“The peo­ple of North Korea faced egre­gious hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions by the govern­ment in nearly all re­port­ing cat­e­gories,” the State De­part­ment said in its 2017 hu­man rights re­port, “in­clud­ing: ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings; dis­ap­pear­ances; ar­bi­trary ar­rests and de­ten­tions; tor­ture; po­lit­i­cal prison camps in which con­di­tions were of­ten harsh, life threat­en­ing, and in­cluded forced and com­pul­sory labour; ...ar­bi­trary in­ter­fer­ence with pri­vacy, fam­ily, home, and cor­re­spon­dence, and de­nial of the free­doms of speech, press, as­sem­bly, as­so­ci­a­tion, re­li­gion, and move­ment; de­nial of the abil­ity to choose their govern­ment; co­erced abor­tion; traf­fick­ing in per­sons; ...do­mes­tic forced labour through mass mo­bil­i­sa­tions and as a part of the re-ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.”

Or, as Trump him­self sum­marised it just seven months ago: “The hor­ror of life in North Korea is so com­plete that cit­i­zens pay bribes to govern­ment of­fi­cials to have them­selves ex­ported abroad as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea. ...Lead­ers im­prison their peo­ple un­der the ban­ner of tyranny, fas­cism and op­pres­sion. ...Cit­i­zens spy on fel­low cit­i­zens, their homes are subject to search at any time, and their ev­ery ac­tion is subject to sur­veil­lance. In place of a vi­brant so­ci­ety, the peo­ple of North Korea are bom­barded by state pro­pa­ganda prac­ti­cally ev­ery wak­ing hour of the day. North Korea is a coun­try ruled as a cult.”

Did Trump not be­lieve or un­der­stand those words he read in his speech in Seoul last Novem­ber? Has he for­got­ten them, now that he has looked the cult leader in the eye? Or does he know his lat­est state­ment is hog­wash?

We have no idea. Here’s what we do know: There are thou­sands of peo­ple in North Korea who will learn of Trump’s lat­est state­ment. Thou­sands of peo­ple who had looked to Amer­ica and its demo­cratic al­lies to stand for their dig­nity and free­dom as hu­man be­ings will feel a bit less hope­ful about their fu­ture. They will feel be­trayed. They will be right to feel that way.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to the me­dia about his his­toric meet­ing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Ho­tel in Sin­ga­pore on Tues­day.

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