Archive for January, 2015

Chinese Repatriation of North Korean Refugees

As a follow-up to to the previous post, I would like to give some more depth to the North Korean refugee situation.

China’s Yanbian province, which shares its border with North Korea, is the hub of a major humanitarian crisis for China. This is the only escape route out of North Korea, however China is never the destination. Often times refugees look for passages to a third country, preferably South Korea, Mongolia, or Thailand, who are welcoming to refugees despite North Korea’s discontent. The reason they will rarely stay in China is due to the fact that Chinese officials will repatriate refugees and be sent to a labor camp for punishment, including physical and emotional abuses.

Human security is also at risk for the refugees themselves. If they are lucky to be able to stay in China or make it to a third country, these refugees face other challenges, which may arguably be just as bad as the abuses they suffered in North Korea. Women and children are at the biggest risk for exploitation. Many women are forced into sex trafficking or bribing officials with sexual favors so that they can ensure safe passage into China. Many are later sold to human trafficking, forced to work in the black market sex industry, or as unofficial “brides” for Chinese men. Children are forced into hiding and therefore do not get the education they need.

Despite signing various treaties that allow refugees to flee there, China does not regard international law in the least when it comes to North Korean refugees. The core issue that marks China’s stance on refugees is its diplomatic relations with North Korea. It is one of China’s allies, and while they officially state they do not approve of North Korean actions (such as military threats), they will turn a blind eye to its human rights abuses for the sake of political and diplomatic security. For the most part, it believes in keeping the peace with North Korea and that belief entails repatriating refugees despite the horrific fate they face upon repatriation. In the rare cases they do allow asylum for refugees and allow them to leave for a third country, they do not send them to South Korea so they do not anger their allies in Pyongyang.This threatens China’s diplomatic relations with countries who place emphasis on human rights as a necessary factor for national development in China and trustworthiness, which may isolate China from political alliances.



David R. Hawk, The Hidden Gulag. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea): 2003, 115.

“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” UNHCR News.

James D. Seymour, “Well-founded Fear,” (New York: Human Rights in China): 2000.


North Korean Defector Admits to Inaccuracies in Personal Account

North Korea is one of the countries with the worst human rights records in the world, with many defectors and labor camp survivors who are able to attest the atrocities they suffered. North Korean refugees are one of the biggest security issues that the world, China especially, faces.  It is a large-scale humanitarian concern and political, since no country wants to draw Pyongyang’s antagonism, especially after they declared that they did not want any country harboring refugees.

It has recently come to light that one of these survivors, Shin Dong-Hyuk, author of a bestselling book and a key witness for the UN, admitted to inaccuracies in his depiction of the Kwan-Li-So, a gulag-styled labor camp, where those who commit even the most minor offenses are punished alongside their entire families (up to three generations are punishable and deemed guilty by association). This admission, though honest, may convince the public that the situation in North Korea is nowhere near as dire as the defectors claim.  It is extremely difficult to fully prove that what the defectors claim are true, however due to the number of survivors claiming horrific abuse and the physical evidence many exhibit, their claims hold plenty of weight. Exaggerations aside, refugees are often hesitant to speak the full truth, or at all, due to the possibility of hurting those they left behind, including family or people aiding their escape. Shin urges that awareness should continue to be raised to help those who have managed to escape and to help those who are still subjected to horrific tortures within North Korea.

***Note: This is the post from last week that I had posted on my main blog because I did not have this one up. The original post can be found here***


Terrorism in Europe: Grassroots jihadism and the Kouachi brothers

There is a spectrum  of terror, ranging from ‘lone wolf’ style assailants (such as the shooting by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on October 22, 2014) to full-on professional terrorists that have extensive training and explicit ties to groups like al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. The ‘lone wolf’ is an assailant characterized by having little or no training and most likely has mental problems, drug dependence, a criminal history or some combination thereof. A lone wolf might have become radical  by direct exposure to Islamist ideology or through the internet and  simply wants to latch on to a cause in order to cause mayhem.

The Kouachi brothers, who perpetrated  the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris on January 7, fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. They received small-arms training by jihadist militants and both had ties to radical Islamists, yet were not formal members of a terrorist organization. This is what is known as grassroots terrorism.

The scope of threat varies greatly with grassroots jihadists, depending on the extent of their training and radicalization processes, personal capability and sheer circumstance. While not all grassroots jihadists will be able to successfully pull off their terrorist plots, the ability of extremists and jihadists in radicalizing followers means that there is a broad threat. The best solution would be to cut the chain somewhere in order to prevent radical jihadists from extending their ideologies and beliefs to potential lone wolves or grassroots jihadists.


Airstrikes Death Toll In Syria

With the Syrian Civil casualties reaching over 191,000- US airstrike deaths in the region have reached over 900, believed to be mostly members of ISIS (785.) It is also beleived that there have been at least 50 civilian deaths. After President Obama formally requested a resolution to the conflict that is occurring within Syria and with ISIL. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change. And what approach Obama plans to take in regards to taking down ISIL. The number of civilian casualties must go down- however that could come at the cost of more American soldiers lives.



Obama Proposal Regarding Cybersecurity

On Friday President Obama announced during a visit to the federal National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center a new set of legislation aimed toward enhancing information security. In light of the recent cyberattacks on Sony and the US military’s social media this potential legislation has a higher chance of being passed than a earlier bill that was stopped in the Senate. By helping communication between the private sector and the government cyberthreats can be addressed and dealt with before they can cause significant damage.  One neccesary consideration for this type of bill is private information, much of the proposed bill’s protection for civil liberties and privacy is based upon guidelines that are not yet written. Security from cyberattacks is vital but there must also be consideration for the safety of personal information. This illustrates one of the most divisive debates in cybersecurity, where to draw the line between expansion of security and the rights of citizens. So while this bill is positive in that it shows how the US government is taking this issue seriously, it will undoubtedly bring more discussion about violations of privacy.


-Lucas Duty

Terrorism in Europe: Chechens Subject to Ethnic Profiling after Paris Attacks

The terrorist assault at the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7 has created unfortunate repercussions for Chechen citizens in France and Western Europe. Four days after the attack, 12 Chechens were detained after being arrested and having their money, telephones and computers confiscated. The suspects, who had all been arrested at night, were held for nearly two days at an undisclosed site in Paris. One of the detainees, a mother of three boys, was accused of organizing a terrorist organization.

Other reports have indicated that up to ten Chechen families have been deported from France over the course of the past week. This is after French security services warned neighboring countries such as Germany of Chechen terrorists infiltrating Western Europe. This led to four Chechens being detained for around six hours near Bexbach before they were ordered to drive back to France. On top of the arrests made in France, there have been arrests in Belgium, Germany and Austria. In all three cases, the suspects were accused of being linked to Syrian jihadist groups.

The aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo seems to have brought forth a campaign of ethnic profiling against Chechens in Western Europe. This is dangerous because ethnic profiling can lead to even larger disenfranchisement and alienation, which can lead to actual violent or terrorist behavior.



Carbon Emission Concern Brings Nations Together

Unfortunately, not a particular state of emergency in the environment this week, but good news concerning nations and exemplifying how they work together to get goals done that concern the entire Earth’s security. The United States recently goaded India to sign a bill such that it will bind India to lowering their carbon emissions. China and the United States have already signed on so with the inclusion of India the 3 largest polluters would all be aiming to preserve what atmosphere we have left. This article stood out to me especially in this week since we’re supposed to read about liberal views on international relations. Liberals didn’t agree with  the “balance of power” schema that allowed for nations to gather power reckless. I believe that this compromise is just in the beginning of a long line to help our with world issues. This shift from national interests to the interests of the entire world is a nice change of pace and hope to see more of it in the future!

Noah Bey

Obama Will Not Meet With Netanyahu During Trip to Washington

President Obama denied meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the explanation that Netanyahu’s visit fell too close to the Israeli election.  The timing of the visit also gave the White House a convenient means of retaliating against Netanyahu for his decision to accept an invitation from Republican leaders to address Congress.  Netanyahu and Republican lawmakers believe Congress should pass legislation threatening Iran with new economic sanctions, something President Obama said he would veto if it came to his desk.  Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress on March 3rd.

The U.S. is working with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China to negotiate with Iran.  Obviously Netanyahu is concerned with a growing Iran and that is why is he for sanctions.  However, if President Obama is serious about not sanctioning Iran, he needs to make it clear to Netanyahu that this is the best course of action.


CIA offical convicted of disclosing national defense information

In recent years, the Obama administration has acquired a track record for prosecuting leakers. Jeffery Sterling, of the CIA, is one such leaker. He was convicted of nine felony counts of  unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. The prosecution claimed that the information he disclosed damaged American efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program and also put lives in danger. This crackdown by the Obama administration makes sense because of the many problems caused by Wikileaks and the people who gave them the information. Hopefully, with the administration being so tough on leakers it will discourage more potential leakers in the future because more leaks like this could unnecessarily endanger lives and U.S. relations with other nations.


Health Epidemics are a Global Problem



The Ebola epidemic which surfaced this past year showed that there was a global lack of security in terms of being able to handle widespread disease, as certain regions of the world were not aptly able to handle outbreaks as others. The United Nations now recognizes that they were not readily prepared when the time came to combat ebola and that there needs to be reform in the way they handle future incidents like this. Problems which occur in one region of the world that is communicable will almost always become a global problem, as we have seen a few cases for ebola in United States citizens. No country is risk free from suffering from the same outbreaks as what they may consider an inferior country, and that is why it is the job of a global organization such as the World Health Organization which has pulled resources of numerous nations to combat these epidemics.

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