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U.S. calls for release of female political prisoners in N. Korea

All Headlines 04:30 September 02, 2015

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Tuesday launched a human rights campaign calling for the release of female political prisoners and other prisoners of concern around the world, including those in North Korea.

The #FreeThe20 campaign comes ahead of an international women's rights conference to be held at the United Nations later this month. The conference is known as Beijing+20 conference as it comes 20 years after a similar conference held in the Chinese capital.

In the campaign, the U.S. singled out 20 cases of women prisoners around the world, including Wang Yu of China and Khadija Ismayilova of Azerbaijan, and called for their immediate release. The list also included an "unidentified" prisoner in North Korea.

"I will say that there are more than 100,000 political prisoners in North Korea that we know about, and the conditions in the network of prisons in North Korea are unspeakable, the risk to any specific individual in those prisons excessive," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said during a briefing.

"And so all things considered, the judgment was made, number one, there are so many political prisoners that singling any one woman out -- or girl out, for that matter -- in a way wouldn't reflect the scope and the scale of the challenge. And two, again, that the risk could be substantial to that individual," she said of the reason to include an "unidentified" North Korean prisoner.

North Korea has long been labeled as one of the worst human rights violators. 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 topple its regime.

In June, the State Department said in its annual human rights report that the North's human rights record "remained among the worst in the world" last year with public executions, political prison camps, torture and other abuses.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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