Home > Uncategorized > Statement of Michael Horowitz on the North Korean Attacks

Statement of Michael Horowitz on the North Korean Attacks

I have known Michael Horowitz since my very first days of coming to Washington. As a matter of fact, before I was ever involved formally in the human rights world, I heard Michael speak at a conference at Georgetown while I was a student.

Michael is one of those people who gets things done in Washington. Without Michael, there would have been no International Religious Freedom Act, no North Korea Human Rights Act, no Trafficking in Persons Act.

Below is a rare public statement from Michael, elicited as a result of the recent North Korean attacks on Yeonpyeong Island.

NOTE: MR. HOROWITZ, A LONG-TIME HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, WAS THE PRINCIPAL AUTHOR OF THE NORTH KOREA HUMAN RIGHTS ACT. HE HAS BEEN ACTIVE WITH “UNDERGROUND RAILROAD” EFFORTS TO RESCUE NORTH KOREAN ESCAPEES TO CHINA AND HAS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN BRINGING MANY NORTH KOREAN ESCAPEES TO THE UNITED STATES.

THE STATEMENT FOLLOWS:

I hold the State Department and administration significantly responsible for today’s attacks on Yeonpyeong Island. Our offers of money and legitimacy to the North Korean regime in exchange for its weapons promises have greatly increased the appetite of the regime to engage in weapons blackmail. The notion, central to the administration’s North Korea policy, that we can get Pyongyang to bargain away to only means by which it can stay in power has long been dangerous folly. During the past week that policy has been shown to be nuclear folly and, today, it has become fatal folly.

The Korean-American community also must assume significant responsibility for today’s events. Its passivity towards the abuses of the regime resembles the silence of the Jewish-American community during Hitler’s rise to power and has been a central enabler of U.S.-North Korea policy. The community’s conduct stands in stark contrast to that of the Jewish-American community’s support of the Jews of the former Soviet Union and the conduct of the African-American community towards the victims of the former Apartheid regime. America is a country of immigrants and U.S. policy has always been responsive when its communities have made their votes and long term support contingent on support for oppressed people from their countries of origin. The Korean-American community has more power to influence U.S.-North Korea policy than it understands; when Korean-American church pulpits and second generation Korean-Americans thunder in opposition to our dollars for weapons promises, human rights-neutral policies towards Pyongyang, those policies will change. The Korean-American community is on a success trajectory that both parties understand better than the community does; neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party will risk long term loss of support from Korean-Americans if they make U.S.-North Korea policy their signature issue. Community leaders have long promised to do so; today’s events make clear the time to actually do so is now.

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