x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tough to trust North Korea despite release

A reader says North Korea remains an oppressive state despite releasing the American war veteran Merill Newman. Other letter topics: UAE University, India, Syria, US, Martin Sheen

A reader says there is no reason to believe that North Korea is safe for travel, even though the country has freed Merrill Newman, the 85 year-old American, who was detained on charges of espionage last month. Noah Berger / Reuters
A reader says there is no reason to believe that North Korea is safe for travel, even though the country has freed Merrill Newman, the 85 year-old American, who was detained on charges of espionage last month. Noah Berger / Reuters

I refer to the news item North Korea frees veteran detained for war crimes (December 8).

Some might think the tolerance that the North Korean government has shown to Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American veteran of the Korean War, is epic, yet Pyongyang is still regarded as one of the world’s most repressive states.

It is hard to believe how Mr Newman, who had travelled in October as a tourist on a 10-day organised tour of North Korea, has been found guilty of “hostile acts” and of attempts to topple the North Korean government.

He might have told some people that he fought in the Korean War and they might have reported that to the authorities, which resulted in his detention on espionage charges.

The story of Mr Newman sounds absurd, but the fact that some other Americans and South Koreans are arbitrarily being held in North Korea shows how risky it is to travel to that country.

The quest of this East Asian nation to make a nuclear weapon and its resistance to international monitoring of such activities have resulted in economic sanctions for many years.

Many countries might urge Pyongyang to show a similar humanitarian gesture by pardoning their citizens who are languishing in North Korean prisons, but the country still seems to associate those people with the 1950-53 Korean War and nurture hatred towards them.

Those who think of visiting that country should think twice, especially if they were involved in military actions some 60 years ago.

Ali Sedat Budak, Abu Dhabi

IT infrastructure needs to improve

It’s heartening to know that UAE University is top in the Arab World and 76th worldwide in a list of the best institutions in emerging economies (Top ranking for UAE University, December 8).

However, the university should also improve its website. Technology is one of the main components of any development. I would like to start a campaign on improving IT infrastructure in the UAE, but I am not sure if I would get the support I need.

Name withheld by request

Syrian refugees’ condition scary

I am writing about the editorial cartoon by Shadi Ghanim, showing Syrian refugees in the mouth of a crocodile (December 9). The scary situation has been portrayed clearly.

I feel so sad for them. These people have nothing. They can’t even protect themselves if a natural disaster happens in their country. Think of the children. I shudder to imagine their condition. In times like this, I wish I were more powerful to help them.

Jen Bishop, Abu Dhabi

Congress has exposed itself

I am responding to the article Congress party falters as BJP wins at least four Indian state elections (December 8).

The perception that Narendra Modi is a hardliner is not correct, even if the Congress party tries to prove him as one. By doing so, Congress aims to dissuade the Muslim community to vote for the BJP.

The riot that took place in Gujarat in 2002 was certainly unfortunate. But it’s not Gujarat alone where communal violence has ever taken place. More importantly, no violence has taken place in Gujarat since 2002. On the contrary, we should think about the damage that Congress has done to the entire nation by indulging in corruption and because of its indecisiveness. The state elections have shown that the people do not buy Congress’s arguments anymore.

Name withheld by request

Can US be a true partner of Arabs?

I refer to the article Time for Arabs to be active in Washington’s policy circles (December 6). The question is how Americans perceive Arabs and Arab interests. Do you really think that the US considers Arabs partners, and do you really think that they take Arab governments seriously. I have doubts.

Name withheld by request

Sheen deserved the DIFF honour

I am commenting on the article Martin Sheen bringing together the pieces (December 8). Martin Sheen is one of the true gentlemen of stage and screen. We attend the same church in Malibu, California. He is always humble and gracious. He lives a simple life and shops for his own groceries in the local stores.

His inner goodness shines through his demeanour. Congratulation on his well-deserved award at DIFF. The awards committee could not have chosen a more deserving person for the award.

Jim Ferrier, Dubai