North Korean prison camps

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As the world sits by, North Korea has imprisoned as many as 200,000 people in its prison camps. Although human rights violations remain unfortunately common in many nations, these camps form a category of their own in today’s world. North Korea’s gulag is a place where people aren’t people but rather objects for exploitation and elimination.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released a report this week detailing the harrowing reality of Camp 22. Camp No. 22 covered some 775 square miles, a larger geographic expanse than London, New York or Los Angeles.

Satellite imagery suggests the camp recently closed. Good news? Not exactly. According to the report, after a food shortage in 2009-10, Camp 22’s population shrunk to somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 people from around 30,000 in previous years. Thousands of prisoners seem to have evaporated into thin air — perhaps via Camp 22’s crematoria.

Last week also saw the conclusion of public hearings for a U.N. Commission of Inquiry investigation into North Korea’s human rights abuses. Although the U.N. commission has no formal prosecutorial powers, Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who led the inquiry, promised that the report he is overseeing will “not be just another U.N. document.”

Among the more chilling questions in the history of World War II is how the Allies could know about Auschwitz and other German death camps but take no definitive action, such as bombing the rail lines, to stop them. It is thus encouraging that the United Nations has stirred itself to pay attention to North Korea’s camps. Still, historians of the future may again wonder how the world could have known so much and done so little.

[The Washington Post]

This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

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