Yeonmi Park on Telling the Victim’s Truth: Advocating for North Korea’s Refugees

In his November 15, 2015 article, “Yeonmi Park’s North Korean Defector Story”, Todd Krainin introduces us to Yeonmi Park and gives us a glimpse of her story as she tells it in her book In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. Krainin also tells us about the plot to discredit her story, to create doubt about her claims, and diminish her credibility both as a writer and as a victim.

Yeonmi’s Story

In 2007, when Yeonmi Park was only 13 years old, she and her family fled North Korea looking for a freedom that, she says, they did not fully understand. Her father died from cancer shortly after escaping from North Korea. She and her mother endured through starvation. Yeonmi persevered through being raped and abused as they traveled across China, the Gobi Desert, and the Mongolian border before finally reaching South Korea. Her story and her book shine the spotlight on political persecutions and human rights abuses on not only in North Korea but in other parts of the world.

Casting Doubt

Yeonmi Park has found her share of critics both in and outside of North Korea. The government in Pyongyang has produced what some might call a propaganda video discrediting her story and accusing her family of working undercover for the United States. Some critics demonize her for the celebrity aspect of her book. While others call into question the accuracy of her claims, citing discrepancies in Yeonmi’s stories of being raped and abused. Yeonmi states that any discrepancies are unintentional and due mainly to limited English language skills and shame, but not intended to sensationalize or deceive.

According to Krainin, because North Korea is one of the most secretive nations in the world, it is difficult to verify the truth and credibility of many of these stories. However, all of these stories must be told. Thousands of North Korean refugees and from other areas depend on stories like Yeonmi Park’s to continue to bring awareness and keep the rest of the world on the path of seeking the truth.

Thor Halvorssen’s Perspective on Socialism

Thor Halvorssen is the founder and president of the Human Rights Foundation and is strong advocate for individual liberties, civil rights and democracy. He recently gave an interview to Fox News, in which he explained his take on democratic socialism. The principles underlying democratic socialism have been the subject of plenty of media coverage as of late, thanks to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Senator Sanders has been promoting democratic socialist principles as an alternative to the current U.S. economic model and as a way to improve the plight of America’s poorest and middle class. While many of these democratic socialist polices sound good in paper or make for interesting reading in college textbooks, Halvorssen cautions that real world application of democratic socialist principles can be a recipe for disaster.

For an illustration of Halvorssen’s warning, we need look no further than Venezuela, he says. When an authoritarian regime operates using democratic socialist principles, Thor Halvorssen warns that this is a surefire way to restrict individual liberty and afford the government an excessive amount of power over its citizens. Although countries such as Denmark and Sweden have subscribed to democratic socialist principles, the idea of the government owning property in the place of private citizens or the government being able to set prices and control supply can be a scary proposition. Halvorssen is much more in favor of the potential of the free market to help society prosper as a whole because he contends that it does not have the potential to erode individual freedoms, as does socialism in practice.

Halvorssen’s family has had more than its fair share of negaitive experiences with socialist authoritarian regimes. While Halvorssen was studying at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, his father was imprisoned over preposterous charges of terrorism because he had the gumption to investigate and infamous and powerful drug cartel. Halvorssen’s mother was also shot during a peaceful political protest in Venezuela, and his first cousin is currently being held as a political prisoner. While these may seem like extreme examples, Halvorssen warns that democratic socialism can be a very slippery slope. Find him on Facebook for more news and updates.

Human Rights Activist Try To Influence Nicki Minaj To Reject The Invite Of A Dictator

The global music icon, Nicki Minaj, has come under fire from the Human Rights Foundation for accepting an invitation to perform at a Christmas Festival in the African nation of Angola. The controversy stems from the communications company that is hosting the event, Unitel. This organization is directly linked to the ruling family of the southern nation, which is spearheaded by the Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Santos has been accused of being a dictator, and his regime has been associated with crimes against the country’s journalist, activist and politicians. The Human Rights Foundation sent Nicki Minaj a letter that specified the concerns that they had for her indirect support of a dictator that allegedly amassed an enormous amount of wealth that is characterized as blood money. Despite the awareness that the Human Rights Foundation has brought to Nicki Minaj and her executive team, Minaj accepted the invite to participate in the Christmas festival and she performed without releasing a statement.

Even though the humans rights community does not expect Nicki Minaj to fix the problem of regimes that commit crimes against its citizens, the human rights community is working very hard to bring awareness to the general public and to people with influence and power. One of the prominent leaders of the global, human rights campaign is Thor Halvorssen. The 39-year-old Venezuelan native is the president of the Human Rights Foundation, he is a member of the Children’s Peace Movement, and he is the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, which organizes an annual human rights festival in the U.S., U.K. And Norway. Halvorssen’s life as an activist began in 1989, at the age of 13, when he organized events against the apartheid-based, South African regime.

Halvorssen is not only a human rights advocate; rather, he is a proxy victim of injustice as his mother and father were both victims of human rights violations by the Venezuelan government. In 1993, his father was stripped of his role as ambassador and imprisoned and tortured for 74 days for highlighting corruption and drug trafficking committed by Venezuelan officials. His father was even the target of the famed drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Halvorssen’s mother was victimized when Venezuelan security forces shot into a crowd of protesters during a peaceful demonstration. She was shot and survived her injuries, but one individual was killed and 12 others were wounded. The gunmen were found guilty of the shooting; however, they only served six months in prison.

Thor Halvorssen has used his passion and personal hardships as motivation to propel the issues of human mistreatment in the global community. He has advocated against anti-slave labor in China, and he has released featured films documenting various human rights issues. One of his films, The Sugar Babies, received critical acclaim and a lot of controversy as it explored the exploitation of migrant Haitian farm workers in the Dominican Republic.