HRWF (14.09.2017) – Since 1988, the European Parliament supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The prize is awarded to individuals who have made exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe. This year EPP Members of the European Parliament László Tőkés and Cristian Preda, Vice-presidents of the EP’s Human Rights Committee (DROI), with the support of Human Rights Without Frontiers, jointly nominated Bandi from North Korea, member of the Korean Writers’ Alliance.
Bandi lives in North Korea. His manuscript of seven short stories was smuggled out of the country and published under the title ’The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea’, translated into 21 languages and published in 20 countries. To date Bandi remains the first known writer of a book, critical of North Korea, who still lives inside the country.
Bandi in Korean means ’firefly’. The writer wanted his stories ’to shine only in a world of darkness’. Through the Sakharov campaign – widely supported by 48 EPP Members across different national delegations – Bandi’s work helped shed light on the dark side of the Korean Peninsula. By nominating him, the EP has provided an internationally influential platform not only to Bandi, but to the ongoing suffering of his people under a totalitarian dictatorship. This is all the more important as the nomination has come in the midst of increasing nuclear provocations of the secretive regime, threatening world peace.
In line with their continuous and tireless support for human rights and fundamental freedoms, with the nomination of Bandi Tőkés and Preda have set a moral example for the world. While Bandi has not finally made it to the short list of nominations for the Sakharov Prize this year, the campaign sets a valuable precedent for future efforts focusing on human rights in North Korea. The campaign itself, and the wide support it received, has revealed, again, the commitment of the European Parliament to human rights and in particular to the people of North Korea. This will without a doubt contribute to further similar international initiatives. HRWF will continue to lead in this respect, as the NGO that has established the contact between the Mr. Do Hee-youn, the South Korean activist campaigning for human rights in North Korea who got hold of Bandi’s manuscript, and the MEPs.
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