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BosNewsLife – British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met former North Korea prisoner Kang Cheol Hwan Tuesday September 6, amid fresh reports that about 200,000 people are locked up in prison labor camps. Kang spent ten years in a prison labor camp for the alleged crime of a relative from the age of nine and was released in 1987. The former prisoner, who is a human rights campaigner, was accompanied by a delegation of Christian advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Freedom House, a US Non Governmental Organization. “Asked about the current situation, Mr. Kang confirmed that the gulag system exists today, with an estimated 200,000 inmates,” said CSW in a statement to BosNewsLife News Center . Many Christians are among the detainees, church groups say. CSW’s International Advocate, Elizabeth Batha, who organized and participated in the meeting, urged the Foreign Secretary to use the UK Presidency of the European Union to take “a strong lead” in international action to pressure the Communist nation to improve human rights “especially through the EU and the UN.” Straw suggested he was open for the idea. “The British Government presses the North Korean authorities on human rights abuses at every opportunity, urging them in particular to cooperate with UN mechanisms and to allow international monitors to inspect prison camps,” he said. “It was an honor to meet Kang Cheol Hwan, who has experienced at first hand the despicable human rights abuses committed by the North Korean regime. North Korea is rightly considered to have one of the worst human rights records in the world, with arbitrary detention, political executions, torture, labor camps and extreme religious persecution commonplace.” Straw said he had “discussed the current situation in North Korea ” and said Kang’s “eyewitness account of forced labor, frequent public executions and near-starvation rations is invaluable evidence of the outrages committed by this most secretive of regimes. We share a common goal in attempting to raise the international awareness of the human rights abuses taking place there.”…[Go To Full Story]