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The 10th International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees held in Toronto
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2015-04-08 21:01:00
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The 10th International Conference finished in Toronto

First two days (August 19th and 20th)  focused on bringing awareness to the North Korean human rights issues through artistic expressions. Apart from street campaigns in the busy center of Toronto, there were concerts featuring Clara C - Kollaboration LA 2010 Winner, Esly, Samulnori, Sun & Others. On the 20th, recent documentary films were shown: "Red Chapel (Det Rode Kapel, 2009)," winner of the Sundance Film Festival directed by Mads Brügger and "Kimjongilia (2009)" directed by N.C. Heiken followed by a Q&A session.

The 10th Annual International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees.
Photo: Andrew Moran

Main Conference started on Saturday, August 21 and was opened by both co-organizers: Citizens’ Alliance and HanVoice followed by the Hon. Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada who delivered the keynote speech on behlf of Foreign Minister. Congratulatory speeches were also sent by Michaëlle Jean (Governor General of Canada), Hon. Jason Kenny (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism), and Dalton McGuinty (Premier of Ontario, Canada). Among those in attendance included Irwin Cotler, former Canada's Minister of Justice; Barry Devolin, a Member of Parliament Canada and also dedicated advocate for North Korean human rights issues in the Canadian Parliament; Masaharu Nakagawa, Senior Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Technology in Japan (Member of the House of Representatives) and Dr. Sun-Young Park, Spokesperson for the Liberty Forward Party in Korea.

The first session entitled "Human Rights in North Korea: Obstacle & Opportunity" led by editor of the famous CanKor Report, Erich Weingartner featured Professor Man-ho Heo from Kyungpook National University covering topics on the existing State of Terror in the country, Kongdan Oh from the Institute of Defense Analysis, USA discussing the years of changes in the perception of the North Korean people, finally followed by a testimony from a North Korean defector who arrived in South Korea in 2008 after having worked as a former officer in the Ministry of People's Safety in North Korea.

The second session, "Experience of North Korean Refugees in Transit and Asylum Countries" moderated by Dr. Sun-Young Park, Spokesperson for the Liberty Forward Party in Korea featured Roberta Cohen from the Brookings Institution ("Legal Grounds for Protection of North Korean Refugees"), Professor Won-Woong Lee from Kwandong University ("Humans for Sale: Situation of Trafficked North Korean Women") and Kay Seok from Human Rights Watch ("A Long Way to Acceptance: the Children of North Korean Women in China"). The session was followed by the testimony of a North Korean woman and discussions on resettlement and integration of North Korean refugees among representatives from USA, Japan and South Korea.   The third session on "Strategies for the Improvement of Human Rights in North Korea and Protection of Refugees" will be led by a member of the Canadian Parliament, Hon. Barry Davolin and featured NGO activists, think tank and film director who shared their ideas on how to maintain the international community's commitment towards the North Korean human rights issue.

On Sunday, August 22 there was an unofficial Plan Action and Strategy Meeting among governmental, non-governmental and think tanks organizations to assess various Migration Acts and North Korean Human Rights Acts. Discussions idnclude exchanges on the best models for the protection and integration of North Korean refugees.
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