North Korean website says recanted defector testimony mocks human rights accusations

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2015 4:29 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - A U.N. campaign to make North Korea accountable for human rights abuses should be scrapped, a semi-official North Korean propaganda website said on Tuesday, days after a defector admitted parts of his story about brutal prison life were untrue.

Shin Dong-hyuk, one of the best known defectors from the North who was a key witness to the U.N. inquiry that has issued a damning indictment of the isolated country's rights abuses, admitted in a post on his Facebook page on Sunday to having changed key parts of his story.

An article carried by North Korea's semi-official Uriminzokkiri website said testimony in the inquiry given by Shin and other defectors was also false.

"Now that the true nature of these human scum has become clear and all the records they presented are proven as false, the documents on so-called North Korean human rights that have been fabricated on that basis must be scrapped," the article said.

The establishment of a forthcoming U.N. Human Rights office in Seoul should also be stopped, the article added.

The bestselling "Escape from Camp 14", written by former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden, brought Shin Dong-hyuk international fame. In a statement on his website, Harden said he would seek to amend the book, but that he was convinced key elements were correct.

North Korea dismisses moves by the U.N. and human rights campaigners to seek accountability for abuses in the country as a U.S.-led plot against its government.

Uriminzokkiri.com, literally meaning "Our people, together", is run by North Korea but based in China, where it delivers state propaganda aimed at ethnic Koreans in China, South Korea and overseas.

A video previously released by the website featuring an interview with Shin's father may have prompted the defector to clarify parts of his story.

Tuesday's article repeated parts of that video, which said Shin's family and friends knew he had been "uttering lies".

"He's come out now that he's unable to keep hiding his dirty identity in the face of clearly documented records even though he makes a living out of lies and scheming, conceding 'parts' of his story are untrue. But that kind of trickery will not get him anywhere,” the article said.

(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Nick Macfie)