Pyongyang hits out as US "religious repression"
According to the official press agency of one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, "the war of the Americans against Iraq and Afghanistan is a ruthless pretext to destroy the religious freedom of Muslims."
Rome (AsiaNews) The US war on terrorism "is a hideous war aimed to abuse human rights of Iraqi and Afghan people" as well as being a "ruthless way to destroy religious freedom of Muslims". The charge was made today by the Korean Central News Agency, the official press agency of North Korea, one of the most oppressive and anti-liberal regimes in the world.
"The United States is contemplating expanding the theatre of the war of aggression to such Islamic countries as Iran and Syria, under the pretexts of development of nuclear weapons and support to terrorism, but its only aim is to arrest, imprison and persecute blameless Muslims."
The document continues: "The marines throw Muslims into detention camps reminiscent of the concentration camp operated by Nazi fascists. Not content, they commit such blasphemy as throwing a Koran into a chamber pot." The dispatch ends with a "warning" to Washington against pressing ahead with the war, given that "the international community is beginning to realize its true intentions: religious repression and clash of civilizations under the pretext of democracy".
In North Korea, only the cult of the leader Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung is allowed. The regime has always sought to hinder the practice of religion and forces believers to register with organizations controlled by the party. Brutal and violent persecution of believers who do not register, and of those who undertake missionary activities, is frequent.
For its part, Pyongyang says religious freedom is present in the country and guaranteed by the Constitution: according to official government estimates, there are around 10,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Catholics. Government estimates only take into account those believers enrolled in recognized associations.
Since the Communist regime was installed in 1953, around 300,000 Christians have disappeared and there are no longer any priests or sisters, who may well have been killed during the persecutions. Currently there are around 80,000 in work camps, subjected to hunger, torture and even death.
Cardinal Cheong, who covers the role of apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, has often said: "The number of Catholics in North Korea dropped from 55,000 (with 58 churches and 100 priests) immediately after liberation from Japanese colonial domination, to a number ranging from 1000 to 3,000 that cannot be confirmed today. This is unacceptable."