Report Casts Light on Dark Reality of North Korean Detention Centers
07/03/2022 North Korea (International Christian Concern) – On June 27, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and former judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as other prominent leaders, gathered in Washington D.C. to reveal findings from the recently released report entitled, “Report Findings: Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Detention Centers.” Many Christians are among the imprisoned and face cruelty on a daily basis.
Based on the evidence of inhumane treatment within pre-trial, holding, and labor training centers, the report calls for an investigation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his regime.
Eyewitness accounts of former detainees were introduced in the first section. One victim told how she was forced to bow before soldiers and bang her head against the concrete floor until a loud, smacking sound could be heard.
Another victim reported that she was ridiculed after requesting medication for an illness. Soldiers asked her, “Why do you think you should be treated like a human?”
Rape is another form of mistreatment that females routinely experience while imprisoned. If a woman becomes pregnant, she is forced into an abortion.
Malnutrition is reported to be a common problem in detention centers. Meals usually consist of a few kernels of corn, or coals mixed with potato skins and corn. Approximately 2000 detainees die of starvation per year.
Watching soap operas, K-POP videos, and/or practicing Christianity are grounds for detention, according to former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay. It is reported that Christians are disproportionately represented in prisons and are heavily targeted in North Korea. One reason for this detainment is the belief that religion, especially the Christian faith, may endanger the personality cult of the Kim regime.
In order to stop Christianity and other dangerous rhetoric from spreading, there are several ministries in place to search and investigate suspicious individuals and detainees: the Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Social Security, and the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD). Political crimes are investigated by the Ministry of State Security while the Ministry of Social Security investigates nonpolitical crimes. The OGD, nicknamed the ‘control tower’ for its powerful influence over government, investigates party personnel.
All ministries ensure government stability and carry out human rights abuses.
As a means to fight human rights abuses, former ICC judge and president, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, urges further inquiries to be conducted. David Tolbert, Former Executive Director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, encourages members of civil society to raise their voices against injustices committed.
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