Better late than never. Nearly a week after other repressive countries used protests in Ferguson, MO to critique the United States’ human rights record, North Korea joined the fray on Tuesday, calling the U.S. “the laughing stock of the world” over its actions over the last few weeks.
North Korean state news agency KCNA has a habit of asking the most leading questions possible to spokesmen for the Foreign Ministry. In this instance, KCNA inquired about the “serious racial discrimination” on display in the United States. “Some days ago, a black teenager was shot to death by a white policeman in Ferguson City, Missouri State, the U.S. and police ruthlessly cracked down on protesters, leveling their rifles at them and firing tear gas and smoke shells,” the spokesman is quoted as saying.
“The U.S. is, indeed, a country wantonly violating the human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their races and they are seized with such horror that they do not know when they are shot to death,” the spokesperson continued. “The protests in Ferguson City and other parts of the U.S. are an eruption of the pent-up discontent and resistance of the people against racial discrimination and inequality deeply rooted in the American society.”
The statement went on to call for the United States to face trial at a human rights court, echoing other countries’ demands that the leadership in Pyongyang do the same. North Korea has long chafed at reports from the United Nations and other rights bodies documenting the horrors that go on within the country’s borders and used the response to Michael Brown’s shooting to again ask to be left alone. But given that the city of Ferguson is now far quieter than it has been in weeks, with the nightly clashes between heavily-armed police and demonstrators receding into memory, it seems odd that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea waited this long to use the events there as a way to prod Washington.
Other countries were more quick on the uptake, seizing the opportunity to dish out the criticism that they’re normally on the receiving end of. Egypt, whose military government killed an estimated 1,150 protesters last year, called for the police in Ferguson to “show restraint” in their actions. The foreign ministry in Moscow, where 60 percent of black and African people said in 2009 that they’d been physically assaulted over their race, chided the U.S. on its race relations and said it “should take care of large-scale internal problems and take effective measures to resolve them.”
In addition to taking every opportunity to engage in “whataboutism” in response to critiques about its human rights record, North Korea is also attempting to set the record straight on its own. Earlier this month, Pyongyang announced that it would be writing up a response to a U.N. report that cataloged a number of mass atrocities committed by the government — including “evidence of an array of such crimes, including ‘extermination,’ crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.” North Korea says that the assessment it plans on publishing will instead “show the true picture of the people of the DPRK dynamically advancing toward a brighter and rosy future while enjoying a free and happy life under the socialist system centered on the popular masses.”