Activists Organize Committee on Kim Young-hwan’s Torture

August 9th, 2012

Members of a group that had worked for the release last month of South Korean activist Kim Young-hwan, who was tortured and detained in China by Chinese authorities for over 100 days, held a press conference and demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul this morning at which they announced that they were going to form a committee. The purpose of the task force is to draw up and implement countermeasures to the torture of Kim.

Participants included about 20 leading local human rights activists such as Lee Jae Gyo (Attorney, President of Zeitgeist), Dr. Yun Yeo Sang (President of Database Center for North Korean Human Rights), Heo Hyun Jun (Executive Secretary of Tongyong Daughters Movement) and Ha Tae-kyung (National Assemblyman and former head of Open Radio for North Korea).

Ha said that the committee’s aim was to “get Beijing to apologize for torturing Kim and prevent it from ever repeating such atrocities.”

He also said the task force’s prominent South Korean human rights advocates planned to pursue a three-prong strategy for attaining its goals. It intends to “raise public awareness of the torture Kim underwent, file a lawsuit against the Chinese government in a court in China over its abominable treatment of Kim and also request that the United Nations address the case of Kim’s torture.”

Organizers of the conference said they “hope China becomes a responsible member of the international society, and the Sino-Korean relationship, marking its 20th anniversary, can become closer.”

The press conference was attended by many local media organizations and TV networks, but Kim himself was not present.

Just one day before, Kim had gone through magnetic resonance imaging at Jeonju Samsung Hospital in North Jeolla Province to try to obtain evidence supporting his claims of torture and beatings while he was being held in China for trying to promote North Korean human rights.

The MRI exam revealed possible signs of torture – namely, abnormally dark and collapsed tissue in the muscle and bone between his eyes and cheekbones. The scars suggest he was struck over and over beneath his eyes, where nerves are highly sensitive to pain, as a way of torturing him

However, experts say the test results are not good enough to confirm Kim underwent torture and recommend more thorough hospital exams it he wants to prove his point. As a result, Kim is scheduled to go through medical check-ups in greater detail next week.

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About the Author

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang is a freelance broadcast and print journalist. She is now a Seoul-based correspondent with Global Radio News in London, and makes appearances as a reporter on English-language TV networks around the world. She also contributes articles to various publications such as the Christian Science Monitor's Global News Blog and Asia-Pacific Business and Technology Report, a magazine with subscribers in over 30 Asia-Pacific nations. Prior to working for GRN, she covered North and South Korea for the U.S. network, CBS Radio News.

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