Sukarno Education Foundation, an Indonesian charity, has given their world peace award to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The organization has defended their decision by claiming that accusations of Kim Jong-un’s human rights abuses are simply Western propaganda.
Those human rights abuses include maintaining a prison system that has been accused of beating, torturing, and starving prisoners to death in huge numbers. The United Nations has threatened him with prosecution over those offenses, and the prison camps have been compared to Nazi death camps. The UN claims that he is responsible for some of the worst human rights violations since World War II. He is reported to have had his own uncle executed for treason in 2013, as well as having his defense chief executed by anti-aircraft gun just this year for falling asleep during a meeting.
So what made the foundation give such a prize to this man, who is well known around the world for these actions? Well for one, Indonesia has enjoyed a good relationship with North Korea since 1960, but that might not be enough. According to recent polls, only about 28% of Indonesians still view North Korea’s influence on their state as positive.
But that doesn’t seem to bother Sukarno Education Foundation, which is run by Rachmawati Sukarnoputri. Sukarnoputri is the daughter of Sukarno, one of the founders and first president of the modern Indonesian state. Sukarno, who was overthrown in 1965 and died in 1970, established close relations with the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union during his rule of Indonesia.
That a charity purporting to support education would give a “world peace award” to someone like Kim Jong-un may come as a shock, but it’s an important reminder of the varied nature of charities. Many non-profit organizations have political motivations, although most aren’t so blatant about their politics as to make such questionable decisions.