North Korean Diplomats Cause Stir at United Nation Human Rights Hearing

D-Bo, May 1, 2015, 9:29 a.m.

North Korean diplomats on Thursday briefly disrupted a U.N. event on Pyongyang's human rights violations, accusing defectors from the communist nation of betraying their homeland as they gave testimony.

The incident occurred when defector Joseph Kim spoke about his father dying of starvation and his mother getting jailed for traveling to and from China. As Kim finished his testimony, one of the North Korean diplomats, Ri Song-chol, abruptly began reading a prepared statement from the audience.

The moderator asked Ri to stop, saying he would be given a chance to speak later, but Ri kept on reading the statement claiming that North Korean defectors are betrayers who abandoned their homeland, and events like Thursday's are part of U.S.-led attempts to topple the regime.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power also asked that the microphone the North's diplomat was speaking into be turned off and warned Ri that he could be removed from the hall. But Ri only left the hall after finishing reading the statement.

The incident shows how sensitive the North is to criticism of its human rights problems.

Pyongyang has long been labeled as one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

But the North has bristled at such criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to overthrow its regime.

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