North Korea has showed no signs of scaling back its fearsome labor camp system, with torture, starvation, rape and death a fact of life for tens of thousands of inmates.
According to human rights group Amnesty International, satellite images purportedly show evidence of expansion, including the construction of new housing blocks and production facilities, at two of the isolated regime’s largest camps or “kwanliso” –15 and 16 — used to hold political prisoners.
Amnesty commissioned the images from DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite imagery vendor. In their release, Amnesty claims that up to 200,000 prisoners, including children, are being held “in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps.”
The rights group says it has shared the evidence with the U.N. Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights abuses in North Korea.
Amnesty claims many prisoners are allegedly being held for nothing more than watching foreign soap operas or holding a particular religious belief, while others are incarcerated simply for having a family member deemed politically undesirable.
Pyongyang denies their existence, despite satellite images and testimony from witnesses.