Parents of Otto Warmbier Push North Korea to ‘Be Answerable for Actions’
The parents of the late Otto Warmbier, a U.S. college student who was imprisoned by the North Korean regime, spoke at the United Nations on Thursday, May 3, calling for Kim and his regime to be “answerable for their actions.”
Cindy and Fred Warmbier made emotional comments at a symposium on international cooperation to improve human rights in North Korea.
Warmbier’s son Otto Warmbier died at age 22 after being imprisoned in North Korea from January 2016 until he was returned to the United States in June 2017 in a coma. He died a few days later, and an Ohio coroner said the cause was lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.
His parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea late last month, which says their son was “brutally tortured and murdered.” The lawsuit, which was filed in Washington D.C., is seeking damages for the wrongful death of the 22-year-old.
Fred said the lawsuit will look at the events that occurred while Otto was detained in North Korea.
“North Korea wants us to lock ourselves in a room and do nothing. And we think that’s a bad idea,” he said.
“We are trying to build a pathway that leads directly to Kim and his regime to force them to be answerable for their actions.”
According to the lawsuit, Otto’s parents said they were stunned to see their son’s condition when he returned to the United States.
“Otto was blind and deaf. He had a shaved head, a feeding tube coming out of his nose, was jerking violently and howling, and was completely unresponsive to any of their efforts to comfort him,” according to the court document.
His parents noticed that their son’s once straight teeth were misaligned and had been forced into abnormal positions. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for personal injury. Cindy said they could not keep quiet and do nothing about what had happened to their son.
“People say why are you doing this? How can I not? How can I not? How can anybody be quiet when this is going on?” Cindy said, reported the Associated Press.
“The only thing we can do is rub their noses in this. It embarrasses them. They don’t like the world to think that they aren’t trying to be a member of the world, and they like to act like a victim, like they’ve been treated poorly,” said Cindy.
At the symposium, relatives of several Japanese men and women who were abducted by North Korea also spoke about the difficulties of reuniting with their loved ones.
In one instance, Takuya Yokota, who is still trying to rescue his sister who was abducted in 1977, thanked President Donald Trump for mentioning her in his U.N. General Assembly speech back in September 2017. Megumi Yokota was 13 when she was abducted and forced to be a language tutor for North Korea’s spies, reported the Associated Press.
“We need to stand up for Otto. We need to stand up for all these families. We have to do it. We owe it to the world. I can’t let Otto die in vain,” Cindy added.