Kamis, 29 Januari 2015

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un 'appears in public'

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29608096

Kim Jong-un has appeared in lots of pictures walking with a stick, says the BBC's Steve Evans
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance since 3 September, the country's official news agency says.
The KCNA agency said on Tuesday that Mr Kim "gave field guidance" at a newly built scientists' residential district.
Rodong Sinmun daily newspaper carried several photographs of Mr Kim using a walking stick as he inspected the site.Jump media player
How North Korean TV reported Mr Kim's public appearance
The absence of the 32-year-old leader had prompted a flurry of speculation about his health.
Some observers said Mr Kim could be suffering from gout or problems in his hip joint. Others even questioned if he remained in control of the state.
 

Analysis: Stephen Evans, BBC News, Seoul

The photographs are still pictures so it's impossible to know how easily Kim Jong-un is walking - did he walk for long, was he standing simply for the photographer? 

It's also impossible to tell if the stick in the pictures is an aid because of an untreated continuation of the previous ailment, or to help him after surgery. 

What the pictures clearly show, though, is that he is at the centre of power. 

One of the acolytes apparently hanging on his every word is Hwang Pyong-so, the general who led a delegation to South Korea 10 days ago. At the time, some of the more feverish speculation had it that this might signify that the military leader was actually in control. 

The newly-released pictures indicate that Kim Jong-un remains the top man. It may or may not be significant that the visit was to a residential complex for satellite scientists - the kind of people who work on missile technology.

Official media have cited unspecified personal "discomfort" as grounds for Mr Kim's absence from public view.

On Sunday, North Korea's ambassador to London told the BBC that Mr Kim was in good health.

KCNA said that Mr Kim was briefed on the Wisong Scientists Residential District "before a map showing its bird's-eye view" and that he then "overlooked it".

"Looking over the exterior of the apartment houses and public buildings, decorated with diverse coloured tiles, (Mr Kim) expressed great satisfaction, saying they looked very beautiful," the agency said.

It also said that Mr Kim visited the newly-built Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences.

Although the news release was dated Tuesday, it did not specify on which day he made the visits.

A picture carried by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun apparently of Kim Jong-un visiting a residential area for scientists - 14 October 2014  
North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun carried several images said to be of Kim Jong-un's visit
 
A picture carried by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun apparently of Kim Jong-un visiting a residential area for scientists - 14 October 2014 
 Mr Kim was pictured using a walking stick in several of the images while inspecting the residential site
 
A picture carried by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun apparently of Kim Jong-un visiting a residential area for scientists - 14 October 2014  
 
He was shown to be in good spirits despite recent rumours suggesting that he was in poor health
 
Uncle purged
During his absence, Mr Kim missed two high-profile public events - the 10 October anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Worker's Party and the 9 September Foundation Day of the North Korean State.

Analysts said they were two days in the political calendar when the leader would be expected to make an appearance.

Kim Jong-un took office on the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011 and was quickly named head of the party, state and army.

In 2012 he was appointed marshal - the highest military rank - following a high-level military reshuffle. 

Then, in December 2013, Mr Kim purged and executed his uncle, Chang Song-thaek, who state media said had been plotting a coup.

North Korea defends human rights record in report to UN

Michael Kirby, UN human rights monitor on North Korea: "It's a good step but it's not enough"
North Korea has held a rare briefing at the UN to discuss its recent report on its own human rights situation.
An official acknowledged the country runs labour camps to "reform" detainees, but dismissed criticism of its rights record as "wild rumours".
A UN report released in February said North Korea was committing "unspeakable atrocities" against its own people on a vast scale.
The country is thought to hold tens of thousands of people in prison camps.
Official Choe Myong Nam told the briefing - which was open to reporters and foreign diplomats - that there were "no prison camps" operating in North Korea but there were "detention centres where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings".
He said North Korea was a "transition society" and as such "there might be some problems, for example in the economic and other areas, we may need to establish more houses and social facilities in order to provide people with better living conditions".
He blamed North Korea's economic situation on "external forces", Reuters reports, in an apparent reference to the stringent international sanctions the country is under as a result of its repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests in recent years.
As the country moved forward "the enjoyment of the people will be further expanded", Mr Choe said.
'Systematic abuse'
The UN report in February said there was evidence of "systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" in North Korea.
It said those accused of political crimes are "disappeared" to prison camps, where they are subject to "deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide. 

North Korea's delegation shakes hands with their South Korean counterparts after a meeting in Incheon, South Korea - 4 October 2014  
 
North and South Korea agreed to hold high-level talks before the end of the year to try to improve relations
The report, based on interviews with North Korean defectors, estimated that "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over the past five decades".
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China media: BBC Monitoring
Suspicious of North Korea's "flip flop attitude" and its motives, an article in the Beijing News reminds that one should observe North Korea's actions instead of its words as Pyongyang's foreign policy is "usually inconsistent".
"Because of the lack of integrity, its [North Korea's] verbal statements are not going to convince any country… It tried to gain attention by planning the top official's visit to Seoul, however, this is meaningless as the most important question is whether Pyongyang will give up its nuclear programme," it says, adding that Beijing has repeatedly urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme.
Jin Qiangyi, an international affairs expert at Yanbian University, tells the Global Times that "China is unlikely to offer strong support to North Korea due to its lingering nuclear issue" and this has prompted Pyongyang to "seek breakthroughs in diplomacy with countries like Russia, Japan and South Korea".
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North Korea's report rebutting the UN findings, first released last month, said that "hostile forces are persistently peddling the 'human rights issue' in the DPRK [North Korea] in a bid to tarnish its image and bring down the social system and ideology chosen by the Korean people".
The open UN briefing comes days after North Korea agreed to resume formal high-level talks with South Korea - which were suspended in February - after Northern officials made a surprise visit to the South for the Asian Games.
Michael Kirby, the UN's human rights monitor on North Korea and an author of the UN report, told the BBC the country appeared to be on "a charm offensive".
But, he added, was this because of a genuine change of attitude in North Korea or because the UN report is due to be discussed in the General Assembly?
"Being realistic I don't think there s been a sudden conversion but whatever brings about respect of human rights is a good thing," he said.

Egypt military targeted in deadly Sinai attacks

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31052064

Egyptian armoured vehicles head along a road in El-Arish on way to the Rafah. 13 August 2011  
Egypt's military has long tried to quell violence in the restive northern Sinai region
At least 26 people have been killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants in the north of Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
A car bomb and mortars hit military targets in the North Sinai capital El-Arish, killing a number of soldiers.
Other attacks took place in the nearby town of Sheik Zuwayid and the town of Rafah, bordering Gaza.
Militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which pledges allegiance to Islamic State, said it carried out the attacks.
The insurgents have intensified attacks since Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.
Tensions have also been raised across Egypt this week amid protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted then-leader Hosni Mubarak.
Egyptian officials said a car bomb had been detonated outside a military base in El-Arish and mortar rounds were also fired at a military hotel, a police club and more than a dozen checkpoints.
 
Newspaper al-Ahram said its El-Arish office - which is opposite the hotel and base - had been completely destroyed.
Map of North Sinai


An army major was later shot dead at a checkpoint in Rafah, medical and security sources said.
Another 30 people were also wounded in Thursday's attacks.
North Sinai has been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October when an attack on a checkpoint killed dozens of soldiers.
The army has launched major operations to try to quell violence in the region, but has so far failed.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has become the biggest threat, staging many attacks on security targets.
Analysts say Thursday's wide-ranging attacks indicate a previously unseen level of co-ordination.
The group, which was originally inspired by al-Qaeda but later pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has called on Egyptians to rebel against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
President Sisi is the former military chief who led the crackdown on Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has said it rejects violence.
Egypt is creating a 1km (0.6-mile) buffer zone along the border with Gaza in a bid to stop militants smuggling weapons in from the Palestinian territory using tunnels.
The project has displaced more than 1,000 families in Rafah and severed an economic lifeline for many Palestinians.
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