CODEPINK sends our heartfelt condolences to the parents of Otto Warmbier, a young man who died on June 19 after being returned home to his family in a coma. He had been detained in North Korea for 18 months for the minor offense of taking a poster from his hotel room as a souvenir. Otto should have never been detained for this minor incident, much less sentenced to a long prison term and held with no ability to communicate with his family. While we do not know the full account of what happened during his imprisonment in North Korea, we do know that he did not get the medical treatment needed to save his life. Instead, he was tragically used as a pawn by the North Korean government.
But rather than use Otto’s death as a reason to continue a policy that further cuts off communication between the governments of North Korea and the United States, Otto's horrific death should be used to open up more channels of dialogue between both governments to prevent any further loss of life and to end the suffering of so many families who remain separated by the ongoing state of war on the Korean peninsula.