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North Korea’s Gulags

North-Korea-Kwanliso-16-Amnesty-International

Amnesty International has just released a new report titled “NORTH KOREA: NEW SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW CONTINUED INVESTMENT IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF REPRESSION.” It’s available in both HTML and PDF formats at the link.

Their press release provides a good synopsis.

A former security official at kwanliso 16 – the largest political prison camp in North Korea – has never spoken publicly before. He describes detainees being forced to dig their own graves and women being raped and then disappearing.

“The gruesome reality of North Korea’s continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed. We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those prisoners of conscience held in political prison camps and close the camps immediately,” said Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher.

Amnesty International has shared the latest evidence with the UN Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights abuses in North Korea.

Hundreds of thousands of people – including children – are detained in political prison camps and other detention facilities in North Korea.

Many of those have not committed any crime but are merely family members of those deemed guilty of serious political crimes. They are detained as a form of collective punishment, “guilt-by-association”.

Kwanliso 16, near Hwaseong in North Hamgyong province, is approximately 560 km2, three times the size of the US capital Washington DC. It is one of the least investigated areas in the vast political prison camp system. In 2011, an estimated 20,000 people were believed be imprisoned at kwanliso 16.

[...]

Mr Lee, a former security official at Camp 16 in the 1980s until the mid 1990s, told Amnesty International in an interview in November 2013 of the methods used to execute prisoners. Detainees were forced to dig their own graves and were then killed with hammer blows to their necks. He also witnessed prison officers strangling detainees and then beating them to death with wooden sticks.

According to Mr Lee women were disappeared after being raped: “After a night of ‘servicing’ the officials, the women had to die because the secret could not get out. This happens at most of the political prison camps.”

Kim Young-soon, a former detainee in Camp 15 between 1980 and 1989, described a public execution she witnessed of two detainees who were caught attempting to escape: “They were brought to a stage after they were badly beaten. The prisoners were tied to wooden stakes and shot three times in their head, chest and feet.”

President Bush was rightly criticized for including the DPRK in his “Axis of Evil.” It was a foolish formulation, making an already difficult diplomatic standoff impossible. But it was not wrong in its substance. A regime that commits this sort of systemic violence against its own people to retain power is the epitome of evil.

 

 

 

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. walt moffett says:

    Other than tightening the economic thumb screws, waiting for the regime to collapse, and a propaganda war, not sure if there is much else the US can do.

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  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    President Bush was rightly criticized for including the DPRK in his “Axis of Evil.” It was a foolish formulation, making an already difficult diplomatic standoff impossible. But it was not wrong in its substance. A regime that commits this sort of systemic violence against its own people to retain power is the epitome of evil.

    So yeah, they’re evil. In fact, they’re the epitome of evil. Just don’t call them evil, or… they’ll hate us even more? They’ll be even more evil?

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @walt moffett: Good luck with that. China will never let them collapse.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Do you ever have anything more than the most superficial of reactions? The Axis of Evil speech was stupid for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the 3 only one had nuclear weapons and we did not invade that one. We invaded the one that had dismantled it’s WMD programs and we did so on the flimsiest of evidence. Which left the 3rd country thinking….

    I’ll give you a Booby Prize if you can guess what Iran thought. I’ll give you the Grand Booby Prize if you make an attempt at quantifying what it cost the world.

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  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m not interested in re-hashing the arguments over Iraq, but it’s not arguable that one direct consequence was the ending of Libya’s WMD program and the rehabilitation of Qaddafi. Which set a really, really good example until Obama helped overthrow Qaddafi.

    Personally, I think North Korea is long overdue for some really, really bad luck. Bad luck in the form of “industrial accidents” in some of its weapon facilities, “operational accidents” that send some of its ships and boats to the bottom, and whatnot. Perhaps the inexplicable destruction of the USS Pueblo in Pyongyang might also happen.

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  6. Al says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Yeah! A war with China would be great!

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  7. Idiot says:

    There was recently a book that came out from an escapee from a NK prison camp. In the WSJ book review I remember a specific reference to a child who had some extra food, a very small amount. The extra food was discovered and the “teacher” beat the child to death in front of other children.

    http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Camp-14-Remarkable-Odyssey/dp/0143122916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386364852&sr=1-1&keywords=escape+from+camp+14

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  8. CB says:

    @Idiot:

    Shin Dong-Huyk. Horrific, horrific stuff.

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  9. Al says:

    Yeah, I meant to suggest that one as well. Very fast and horrifying read.

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  10. Franklin says:

    Just looking at the synopsis of that book makes me sick. Some day this has to come to an end. As far as I can tell, it’s on China’s shoulders to do so.

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  11. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    Interestingly, “kwanriso” can be translated as “administrative smallness.” Who says there’s no irony.

    Jenos, every time I read something that you say, I think “this must be the stupidest thing he can say.” And each time, the next thing you say proves me wrong. Keep up the good work; I need someone who can help keep me from arrogance of intellect.

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