Human Rights Abuses, Nukes, Famine and Hacking: North Korea’s litany of shame
Is it any surprise that North Korea recently conducted its fourth test of a nuclear bomb?
No, it isn’t.
In fact, it was probably to be expected.
Why? Because only three weeks earlier, the UN adopted a Resolution which would refer the leaders of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights abuses.
According to the US State Department, these abuses include allegations of unlawful deprivation of life, torture, infanticide, starvation, as well as violations of the freedoms of conscience, expression, speech, assembly, association and press.
Additionally, according to the Open Doors’ World Watch List, North Korea is the single worst persecutor of Christians in the world – and has been for the last 14 years in a row.
It is supposed that over 100,000 of North Korea’s estimated 400,000 Christians are imprisoned on account of their faith. And, the others are not allowed to freely worship, or even mention or read from the Bible.
Indeed, because the alleged human rights abuses are so egregious, this is the second time the UN has boldly moved to refer North Korean leaders to the UN’s International Criminal Court.
Naturally, the North Korean dictatorship was unhappy about the UN drawing attention to these crimes against humanity. And, one of its agents at the UN even went so far as to claim that the Resolution was politically motivated and “based upon all sorts of distortions and fabrications including sheer lies.”
But, the Resolution isn’t, in fact, based on distortions. These crimes are well-known, due to the bravery and courage of the many people who defect from North Korea every year (an estimated 28,000 defectors since the late 1990s). From their stories, we know that gross human rights abuses are continuing unabated, there.
So, the leadership of North Korea had to try to divert attention away from their terrible human rights record. And, of course, there’s no better way to divert attention than to test a nuclear bomb!
Unfortunately, though, we have come to identify a pattern in North Korea’s behaviour – they often do something outrageous to divert attention away from other bad behaviour. Very often, too, in the hopes that they will be rewarded.
Thankfully, in the aftermath of this latest nuclear test, the US House of Representatives have voted to sanction the leadership of North Korea – going after the personal assets and hard currency of the leaders of North Korea.
But, more is required.
Specifically, we suggest two other simple arrangements to help improve the conditions of those suffering abuse in North Korea, as well as to ease regional tensions:
1) Most importantly. Any easing of sanctions, as well as any continued, non-humanitarian aid or joint ventures with the other parties (e.g., special economic zones with China, Russia, and South Korea, involving special trading privileges/arrangements and, or, the improvement of infrastructure, etc.) must be contingent on measurable and verifiable IMPROVEMENT of North Korea’s treatment of human rights; and, 2) The distribution of humanitarian aid must, henceforth, be monitored by a mutually-agreed-on third party, to ensure that the aid gets to its intended destination.
The bottom-line is that, from now on, North Korea must show improvement in the area of human rights, if it wishes to avail of the benefits of partnership with the other members of the Six-Party Talks.
The people of North Korea have suffered enough. Now, it’s time for the people of the world to stand united with them, and against the brutal conditions which many of them face every day.
Thank you for signing this urgent petition. Thank you for standing with the people of North Korea.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Portadown film-maker Paul Moorehead in White House screening
8 September 2015
- From the section Northern Ireland
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Paul Moorehead and Thomas Glass working on Ticking the Box
A former teacher turned film-maker from County Armagh is taking part in a prestigious conference at the White House this week.
Paul Moorehead, from Portadown, has been invited to show his film Ticking the Box at the President’s Inter-faith and Community Service Challenge National Gathering.
The film focuses on what is meant by community engagement and the ways in which it is happening.
It includes interviews with Dr Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine who helped to desegregate one of the largest schools in the US in 1957, as well as former commissioner of education Ernest Boyer.
The film was made for American higher education and has been shown on cable TV in the US.
Mr Moorehead said getting the opportunity to screen his work at the White House was a real honour.
"It’s basically the principals of American colleges, plus some international people who have been chosen," Mr Moorehead said.
"The film that I made is being shown at the President’s Inter-faith gathering and then I’ll be talking about it afterwards.
"We make films about community and faith and education, so in terms of where we’re going to, I suppose this is as high as we can get."
He said the fact his films could be used to try to help bring people together in Northern Ireland was an important part of the White House invite.
"I was told it was based on people that they felt could make a difference in the communities they’re in," he said.
"I’ll be making two visits to the White House, one a kind of meet and greet thing and the second will be to talk about the work I’m doing here in Northern Ireland."
It is all a long way from a studio at Lurgan Junior High School where Mr Moorehead – then a teacher – started making films, initially to be shown within the school.
"We started broadcasting on the internet and then we started to go out and do outside broadcasts," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Ticking the Box was made in America but Mr Moorehead said it relates to Northern Ireland
"I started into making films and the first film I made was nominated at the Learning Onscreen Awards and I thought ‘good grief’. Then it was taken up by the Department of Education and it kind of made changes to the history curriculum.
"I thought by making films you can have quite a voice."
He formed the community enterprise company LJHSTV and hasn’t looked back, with his career since landing him awards, as well as White House invitations.
"We made a film two years ago [A Step Too Far] that won the Chicago Peace on Earth film festival – best feature documentary," he said.
"We brought that back and that is being used here [in Northern Ireland] between inter-faith groups.
"Because things are so difficult here, if you make a film elsewhere and sort of relate it to here, it can make a difference."
Mr Moorehead’s US visit will include dinner with the principals of the prestigious Georgetown and Howard universities.
"I can’t say I don’t feel a bit out of my depth here, but you’re not going to miss chances like this," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption One of Mr Moorehead’s previous films won an award at the Chicago Peace on Earth Awards
Share this story About sharing
Migrant crisis: Are these happy young men really timid souls fleeing war and persecution?
THEY aren’t quite the heartrending image of dishevelled, traumatised refugees fleeing the horrors of their war-torn home country one might expect.
PUBLISHED: 11:32, Mon, Sep 7, 2015 | UPDATED: 12:44, Mon, Sep 7, 2015
A group of Syrian men pose for snap using selfie stick
Indeed this bunch of asylum seekers – laughing as they take a group selfie on the Greek beach where they have just landed – could be any gang of mates ready to whoop it up on a booze-fuelled sunshine holiday.
The well-dressed, happy and confident looking group of men, ready to claim EU asylum on the island of Lesbos, serves as a remarkable counter image to last week’s heart-breaking photograph of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi whose body was washed up on a Mediterranean beach.
One of the Syrian men holds up ‘selfie stick’ to capture the moment he and his friends arrived in Lesbos – one of the two Greek Islands bearing the brunt of the mass exodus of refugees and migrants.
A series of photos captured by a photographer on the island show the group of young men doing the two-fingered peace sign and grinning with joy after making the treacherous journey on a rubber boat.
The image of young Aylan Kurdi washed up dead on a beach rocked the world
Tomorrow they will join thousands of refugees waiting to be registered on the island before they are given the go-ahead to travel to Athens – the door to mainland Europe and Britain.
The last 24 hours has seen a worsening situation in Lesbos, where violent clashes between police and frenzied crowds waiting to board ferries to Athens erupted.
Some collapsed, while frightened children screamed in their mother’s arms.
The Mayor of Lesbos pleaded for help from the country’s Government, likening the escalating situation to a bomb "about to explode".
Sypros Galinos said: "I appeal to the prime minister for immediate measures. We all have victims."
Athens has so far chartered just two ferries to transport refugees off of the island.
But Mr Galinos added: "I don’t need one ship, I need a fleet."
Alvand, 18, from Kobani, Syria takes a selfie with his friends as they walk along a railway track
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimates 124,000 have landed on Greek islands this year.
The Greek coastguard sad it saved more than 500 people from the water in just 24 hours on Friday, with scores more expected.
And in complete contrast, thousands arrived in Germany on trains from Hungary and Austria after being invited to settle in the country by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
However Hungary’s Prime Minister Vitkor Orban accused the migrants of targeting Germany for "a German life", instead of physical safety away from war-ravaged countries.
Politicians scramble to offer their homes to Syrian refugees
People traffickers sick ‘kids go free’ offer onboard doomed death…
Migrants take a selfie while waiting for a bus to Austria
He said the stream of migrants flowing through south-eastern Europe were immigrants, attracted by the prospect of life in Germany, not refugees.
Mr Orban said: "If they want to continue on from Hungary, it’s not because they are in danger, it’s because they want something else."
The right-wing leader, who has attracted praise and opprobrium for his hardline handling of Europe’s immigration crisis, defended a controversial package of measures that would include deploying the army to the frontier.
The prime minister said he hoped this would "hermetically seal" the country’s southern border.
Get the latest breaking news from Express.co.uk
(Promoted – this site)
Islamic State: ISIS orders parents to MARRY OFF their daughters to its depraved fighters
TERRIFIED parents in Libya have been ordered to MARRY OFF their daughters to depraved Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, it emerged today.
PUBLISHED: 03:27, Mon, Sep 7, 2015 | UPDATED: 11:07, Mon, Sep 7, 2015
Isis has ordered parents to hand over their daughters in marriage
Sex-crazed Islamists in the coastal city of Sirte are looking to force mothers and fathers to hand over their young girls in the name of jihad.
Those who refuse could find themselves hauled before a Sharia court, with public floggings and even the death penalty amongst the punishments routinely handed down by Isis militants.
The move comes after Express.co.uk revealed how Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has sent hundreds of fighters to Sirte to help the jihadis hold the city.
The hated terror group has declared the Sirte its new capital in north Africa as part of its bid to create a so-called caliphate.
A billboard in Sirte shows women what they are allowed to wear
In a sermon to Sirte’s terrified people – who recently rebelled against their new Isis rulers – militant Hassan al-Karami ordered locals to marry off their female relatives to Isis fighters.
He said that mothers and fathers should "step up and take the initiative" by handing over their daughters as part of jihad. Isis has made similar demands in areas it has captured in Iraq and Syria, with many women revealing the horrific treatment they have received at the hands of its twisted and depraved fighters.
Black flags on Europe’s doorstep: Inside ISIS’s new capital Sirte…
Boko Haram sends militants to ISIS in Libya as map shows horror…
The Benghazi-born jihadist also declared the city, once the hometown of Colonel Gaddafi, to be part of the so-called caliphate.
Isis has declared its intention to use the Mediterranean city as a springboard from which to invade Europe.
The hated terror group has declared Sirte part of its so-called caliphate
Speaking at a mosque in the city’s third district, where an ill-fated anti-Isis rebellion was brutally crushed two weeks ago, al-Karami announced that the group will set up Sharia Law courts in Sirte to hand down brutal punishments to anyone who questions their rule. Penalties for anybody who disobeys the Islamist fanatics will include public flogging and even the death sentence.
He also said that the city’s university will be reopened in a bid to brainwash local inhabitants. It will teach a strictly Isis-approved curriculum, and men and women will be completely separated. ,
Hundreds of Boko Haram militants have joined the Isis in Sirte
Boosted by hundreds of heavily armed Boko Haram warriors, al-Karami also taunted the group’s enemies, who are trying to take back the city.
Referring to a newly formed Arab League force, which has vowed to fight Isis, he boasted: "The Islamic State does not fear the infidel apostate Arab coalition against it."
Libya’s embattled government has called for international air-strikes on Isis to halts its rapid spread through northern Africa.
Last month Isis announced plans to use Sirte as a springboard to invade Europe, urging its militants to make the short journey across the Mediterranean and "conquer Rome".
The jihadists in Sirte have threatened to turn their attentions on nearby Europe, saying in propaganda videos that they will "conquer Rome".
The fight against ISIS
Mon, August 10, 2015
The battle against ISIS militants (also abbreviated as Daesh, ISIL, IS and Islamic State) continues in the Middle East.
Andrae Crouch dies aged 72
Legendary gospel musician Andrae Crouch has died at a hospital in Los Angeles following a heart attack last week, his publicist has confirmed.
The seven-time Grammy winning composer, producer and singer has worked with stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna.
He also arranged pieces for Disney’s film "The Lion King" and "The Color Purple", which he received an Academy Award nomination for.
After reportedly writing his first gospel song at the age of 14, Crouch went on to become one of only a handful of gospel musicians to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" and "Soon and Very Soon," and ”My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" are among his most-loved works.
Born in San Francisco, he started his music career at his father’s church in the San Fernando Valley, where he played piano.
He went on to perform at the White House, the Grand Ole Opry and at Billy Graham’s rallies.
He and his twin sister were both pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in the Los Angeles suburbs.
Image: Rex features
Pastor Sandra Crouch has paid tribute to her brother, saying: "Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord,"
"I tried to keep him here but God loved him best."
Grammy-winning gospel singer, Jason Grabb, says: "We’ve lost a true pioneer and he will be missed,"
During an interview with Associated Press in 2011, Andrae Crouch highlighted how his faith was integral to his music:
"When I finish a song, I thank God for bringing me through,"
"You have to press on and know your calling. That’s what I’ve been doing for all my life. I just went forward."
Leader of the KICC Church, Pastor Matthew Ashimolow, was a good friend of Andrae Crouch and the last one to bring him to the UK.
He says Crouch "left the legacy of a holy life, a good life" but also of "a man who has changed the world with the quality of his music":
"I think he’s also one person whose music cut across cultures, race, and, in fact, also cut across into certain places somebody who may not be considered Christian or religious would play his music."
"He was the one, really, who took away that artist who played very slow, quiet music, and brought life into Gospel music.
"I think if you ask the average gospel artist today, they will have taken a lot of inspiration from him."
Pastor Matthew says his favourite memory of him was a service in America that clearly showed how loved and popular he was:
"In the early days, in the late 70s, Andrae Crouch had gone to a church in the United State of America, they had invited him to come and minister in their church.
"But they did not expect the magnitute of crowd that showed up; The crowd outside was more than the people inside!
"The church did not know that this man’s music was so strong."
Premier Gospel’s station director, Muyiwa Olarewaju, says words used to describe him will be ‘father’, ‘innovator’, ‘leader’ and ‘legend’:
Introducing the retirement home for old age pussycats
Elderly cats can spend the last years of their nine lives in comfort at special accommodation dedicated to looking after senior felines.
By Becky Barnes
Last updated: 04 March 2015, 16:19 GMT
Elderly cats whose owners pass away or can no longer look after them can live out the rest of their years in comfort at a retirement home dedicated to felines.
There are 76 ‘Old Age Pussycats’ aged 10 to 20 living at the Lincolnshire Trust for Cats retirement home, which has been adapted especially for moggies.
Pet owners must pay a one-off fee of £850 for their cat to be taken in at the home, which is south-facing – giving animals plenty of sunshine to relax in – and furnished for their comfort.
Jain Hills, who set up the retirement home in 2001, wanted to do something for older cats when she saw they were being rejected by rehoming charities.
“I don’t think anywhere else does it because people come all the way from London with the cats to come here,” the 65-year-old said.
The oldest cat at the home is Henry, 20, whose owner died. He has a favourite armchair, which the other cats know not to sit in.
The home is also open to cats whose owners leave the country. One of the whiskered residents gets parcels sent to her from overseas, which she is apparently happy to share with her furry friends.
The seven-acre retirement facility offers individual rooms for new arrivals while they get settled and has three sitting rooms for the cats to lounge in, linked by enclosed outdoor areas.
The house is kept warm with central heating, is decorated in cat memorabilia and has leather sofas and Indian rugs for the cats to nap on.
There are also more than 400 stray cats taken in by the charity now living on the grounds.
If you know this man please help if you don’t blog,tweet, Facebook this Thank You
Deadly attacks, particularly on Christian communities, are now the weekly norm. According to a local human rights NGO, at least 1,296 people died between 1 April and 5 June.
We’ve put together downloadable resources to help you, your church and small group to rise up in prayer for this troubled nation. There’s a poster, a prayer sheet, and Twitter header and Facebook cover images so you can show your support. Just click here to download your free resources, and use them all through the week of 15-22 June, or whenever convenient for you.
The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.
We’ve seen God move in incredible ways when we’ve joined together to pray for Nigeria before. We’ve seen expected attacks headed off, violence brought to a halt, perpetrators arrested, and peace-building initiatives flourish. Please join us for the Nigeria Week of Prayer, and let God arise.
Iran: Pastor Irani beaten in prison and taken to unknown location 09/06/2014
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that Pastor Behnam Irani, who was sentenced in 2011 to six years imprisonment on political charges, was beaten in prison and transferred to an unknown location in the early hours of 7 June.
Pastor Irani was summoned by Judge Mohammad Yari, Chief of the Sixth Chamber of the Revolutionary Tribunal at 6:30 am on 7 June. As the summons appeared irregular and contrary to judicial process, Pastor Irani rejected it and wrote a letter of protest. However, at 9 am, VEVAK intelligence agents entered his prison cell and proceeded to beat him before he was taken to see Mohammad Yari. He was subsequently transferred to an unknown location.
The assault on Pastor Irani is the latest of several reports in recent weeks of Iranian authorities using excessive violence against prisoners of conscience.
Pastor Irani is the leader of the Church of Iran congregation in Karaj. He was initially arrested in December 2006, and was sentenced in 2011 to six years imprisonment on charges of “action against the state” and “action against the order.”
Two weeks ago, Pastor Irani’s bible and other Christian literature was confiscated by authorities. Recent events have given rise to concerns that the authorities may be planning to add charges to his existing sentence.
During the first few months of his imprisonment in Ghezal Hesar, Pastor Irani was held incommunicado in a small cell, where guards repeatedly woke him from sleep as a form of psychological torture. He was moved to a cramped room where inmates could not lie down to sleep, before being transferred to a crowded, filthy cell, which he shares with 40 criminals, many of whom are violent. He has been subjected to physical and psychological pressure, and has suffered regular beatings from cell mates and prison authorities, as well as death threats.
In February 2014, Pastor Irani successfully underwent surgery to treat stomach and colon complications.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We are deeply concerned to hear of the assault on Pastor Irani and his enforced disappearance, especially given his medical complications. We cannot begin to imagine the distress this news must be causing his family and friends. CSW urges the authorities to make Pastor Irani’s whereabouts known and to provide him with any medical treatment he may need following his beating at the hands of VEVAK security agents. Furthermore, we continue to call for his release, since in reality he is in prison on account of his faith and in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party. We also urge the Iranian authorities to end assaults on prisoners, as they violate the nation’s obligations under article 10 of the ICCPR, which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity.”