Twenty-five million people today live in the world’s largest concentration camp – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – entombed in a totalitarianism so complete that nary a whisper about their sufferings is shared in the warm daylight we on the outside take for granted.
We teach our children the heavy legacies of humanity’s grave past injustices: Auschwitz. The Killing Fields. Rwanda. Srebrenica. Darfur. Implicit in such education is the belief that had we been alive, or had we been in positions of influence while the great atrocities of the past century had been perpetrated, we would’ve acted decisively to stop them.
But the moral clarity with which we judge those who preceded us is elusive when we see our world today. Museums and memorials to the fallen victims of yesterday’s tyrants are meaningless if they do not translate to stands against the perpetrators of brutality today.
Over the past decade, the body of evidence detailing North Korea’s criminal treatment of its citizens and others has steadily grown – first dismissed in disbelief by many, now undeniable. Last month’s report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea declared, “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” The report documents forced abortions, infanticide, mass starvation, torture, public executions, and oppression on an unfathomable scale.
In an age of satellite imagery and eyewitness testimony from concentration camp survivors, we can no longer plead ignorance. Now we have the chance to get on the right side of history, and to speed the day when children might be born free in North Korea.
[Excerpts of Christian Science Monitor article by Adrian Hong]