A post by Pat
UPDATE Jul 10: There is reportedly optimism that North Korea will release Gomes “for the right price”.
The State Department says Swedish diplomats visited Gomes eight times. The Swiss declined to release details about Gomes’ conditions citing respect for the family’s privacy. The State Department called for North Korea to release him on humanitarian grounds.
Aijalon Gomes was arrested by North Korea in January for crossing the border. He was sentenced in April to eight years hard labor. A few weeks ago North Korea threatened even harsher punishment for Gomes if the U.S. persisted in it’s “hostile” attitude toward North Korea with regard to the sinking of a South Korean ship. Today, when the U.N. is scheduled to issue a weak meaningless statement on the ship sinking, North Korea claims Gomes attempted suicide.
The U.N. statement, which does not rise to the level of a resolution, condemns the attack but does not identify who was responsible and takes note of North Korea’s claim that it had nothing to do with the sinking of the ship.
The harsh sentencing of Aijalon Gomes was itself a provocation. News of his alleged suicide attempt should be received with great skepticism and alarm. This is how the North Koreans delivered the news:
Aijalon Gomes was “driven by his strong guilty conscience, disappointment and despair at the US government that has not taken any measure for his freedom”, the communist state’s official news agency said.Aijalon Gomes.
The report came hours before the UN Security Council was expected to adopt a statement condemning the sinking of a South Korean warship, an incident which has sharply raised cross-border tensions.
Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council is set to approve a statement condemning a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors, but the declaration stops short of directly blaming North Korea. […]
After more than a month of closed-door discussions, the United States announced Thursday that the five permanent council members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — as well as South Korea and Japan had reached agreement on the text.
Presidential statements must be approved by the full council and diplomats said there was no opposition, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.
While presidential statements don’t have the clout of resolutions, they do become part of the Security Council’s record. […]
The draft statement “condemns the attack” and expresses “deep concern” over the investigation’s findings that North Korea was to blame.
It calls for “appropriate and peaceful measures to be taken against those responsible.”
But it doesn’t identify who is responsible, and “takes note” of North Korea’s response “that it had nothing to do with the incident,” according to the text obtained by The Associated Press.
Aijalon Gomes’ alleged attempted suicide is on the record too. This is a matter that demands immediate attention at the highest levels of the U.S. government. It takes months of closed-door diplomat meetings to issue a worthless statement about torpedoing a ship, killing 46 South Korean sailors. The plight of Ajialon Gomes cannot be sacrificed to diplomacy. What next?