Call for End to Human Rights Abuses

SEOUL, South Korea, JAN. 10, 2012 ( The new leader of North Korea has announced an amnesty in remembrance of his father and grandfather, but non-governmental organizations are urging him to begin a whole new era of respect for human rights.

The Fides agency reported today the response of 40 NGOs to the planned Feb. 1 amnesty. It is not clear how many or which prisoners will be released.

The International Coalition to stop the crimes against humanity in North Korea (ICNK) wrote an open letter to Kim Jong-un inviting him to "abandon the decades-long pattern of human rights abuses committed by the government of Pyongyang against the people in North Korea."

The letter recalls that more than 200,000 people are detained in North Korea for political reasons in a system of prison camps.

"The population suffers from hunger and malnutrition, lack of health care, while a political elite lives in luxury," the letter continues.

NGOs that are part of the coalition include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Christian associations such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the Christian Federation of Lawyers.