Pyongyang says US, South Korea must present new solutions for conflict

North Korea’s Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Hyong Ryong said the situation has relapsed into a ‘dangerous, vicious cycle’ of exacerbating tensions because of the actions of the US and South Korean governments. (Reuters)
Updated 21 October 2019

Pyongyang says US, South Korea must present new solutions for conflict

  • Kim Hyong Ryong, Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, says North Korea has worked to build lasting peace
  • But that the situation has relapsed into a ‘dangerous, vicious cycle’ of exacerbating tensions because of US and South Korean actions

BEIJING: The United States and South Korea must produce new solutions for the current standoff on the Korean Peninsula, a senior North Korean military official said on Monday, warning that hostile policies toward Pyongyang would lead to serious consequences.
The remarks add to recent comments from Pyongyang expressing discontent at the lack of progress in its negotiations with Washington. This month North Korea issued a veiled threat about ending the freeze in long-range missile testing amid continued economic sanctions and pressure aimed at pushing it to give up its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.
Kim Hyong Ryong, North Korea’s Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, said at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing that North Korea has worked to build lasting peace but that the situation has relapsed into a “dangerous, vicious cycle” of exacerbating tensions because of the actions of the US and South Korean governments.
“Though it has been more than one year since the DPRK-US joint statement was adopted, there is no progress in improving bilateral relations between the two countries, completely because of the US’ anachronistic, hostile policies against the DPRK,” Kim said, referring to his country by the initials of its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He also accused South Korea of a “double-dealing attitude” in continuing to carry out military drills with the US and buying advanced military equipment. “Bearing in mind our firm will to safeguard peace in the region, the United States and the South Korean authorities must refrain from any actions disrupting the stability of the situation and come up with a new way for solving the problem,” Kim said.
North Korea has conducted missile tests in recent months, including that of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and broke off the latest working-level nuclear talks with the US in early October.
Pyongyang’s top negotiator for the talks blamed the US for the breakdown and said Washington “brought nothing” to the negotiating table. Pyongyang has so far stuck to a freeze in testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that has been in place since 2017 and allowed for three meetings between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and US President Donald Trump since last year.
North Korean state media reported last week on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty, and that his aides are convinced the leader plans “a great operation,” which experts say may signal a major shift in Pyongyang’s stance toward the US in the coming months.
Some analysts say possible North Korean actions could include another space launch or an intercontinental ballistic missile test.


Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

Updated 11 December 2019

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

  • The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”