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Camp 22 and other North Korea atrocities

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posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 11:02 AM
I know we have been desensitized to violence and have developed a lack of empathy for those in other countries, but why is there a lack of outrage over North Korea's lawless political prisoner camps? After doing a little bit of research on Camp 22 and the other "gulags", There has been some brief mention of these prison camps in some other ATS posts going all the way back to 2003, but no in-depth discussion that I can see. Why hasn't anything changed since 2003??

Here is an extensive report (229 pages) published in 2012 from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: The Hidden Gulag: "The Lives and Voices of those who are sent to the Mountains"

The report establishes in detail the terrible human rights violations, torture and murder that are going on in Camp 22 and other political prisoner camps, and interviews several former detainees and guards. Unfortunately, most of these people don't make it out alive to tell their sad stories. The report describes itself as follows:

Snippet of Introduction:

The second edition of Hidden Gulag utilizes the testimony of sixty former North Koreans who were severely and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in a vast network of penal and forced labor institutions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) for reasons not permitted by international law. This contradicts the formal December 2009 proclamation by North Korea to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the term ‘political prisoners’ is not in the DPRK’s vocabulary, and that the so-called political prisoner camps do not exist.

Here are some appalling facts mentioned in the report:

The total number of those currently incarcerated in prison labor camps is estimated between 150,000 and 200,000.

It is estimated that 1 in 120 people in North Korea end up in one.

The vast majority are arbitrarily arrested with no reference to any judicial procedure and for “offenses” that are not punishable in most countries, namely listening to a foreign radio broadcast, holding a Protestant religious service, watching a South Korean DVD, leaving dust on Kim Il-sung’s picture, exiting the country without permission, expressing critical remarks about government policies, or having a father or grandfather who was a landowner or defected to South Korea or worked for the Japanese, thereby placing the family in a “hostile” category under North Korea’s social classification or songbun system.

Estimates of the numbers who have died in the camps over the past 40 years have run well over 100,000.

North Korea continues to officially deny the existence of these camps.

Summary of Interesting Parts:

Part 2-

Part Two describes the phenomena of repression associated with the North Korean kwan-li-so political penal labor colonies where scores of thousands of political prisoners—along with up to three generations of members of their families—are banished, deported, imprisoned without any judicial process, and subjected to slave labor for mostly lifetime sentences in mining, logging or various agricultural enterprises operating within a half-dozen sprawling encampments, enclosed in barbed wires and electrified fences, mostly in the north and north central mountains of North Korea. The report describes who the political prisoners are: real, suspected or imagined wrong-doers and wrongthinkers, or persons with wrong-knowledge and/or wrong-associations who have been deemed to be irremediably counter-revolutionary and pre-emptively purged from North Korean society.

This part also provides an overview of the prison-labor camp system: the guilt-by-association collective punishment, forced disappearances and incommunicado detention without trial, systemic and severe mistreatment, induced malnutrition, slave labor and exorbitant rates of deaths in detention, informants and intra-prisoner hostilities, executions and other extreme punishments, sexual relations, “marriage” and prison camp “schools,” the sexual exploitation of women prisoners, prisoner releases, the economic role of the forced labor camps, and the complete removal from any protection of law, along with the arbitrary and extra-judicial nature of the system.

It outlines the successive waves of political imprisonment over the fifty-odd years the prison camps have been in operation, and provides a brief recounting of how, over several decades, information about the secret and officially denied prison camps has become knowable and known to the world outside North Korea.

Part Two then presents the heart-rending stories and testimonies of fifteen former kwan-li-so prisoners—the lives and voices of “those who are sent to the mountains”—and several former guards at a half-dozen prison-labor camps who were interviewed for this report.

Part 5-

Part Five summarizes the torture and racially-motivated-infanticide and forced abortion experienced or directly witnessed by former North Korean prisoners and detainees interviewed for this report.

Part 6-

Part Six concludes that the prison labor camp system as it has operated in the DPRK for some fifty years, and continues to so operate today, constitutes a clear and massive crime against humanity. This section utilizes the best available contemporary norms of international human rights law and international criminal law—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court—to analyze the human rights violations detailed in Parts Two, Three, Four and Five. This analysis concludes that 10 of the 11 actions proscribed in Article 7 of the Rome Statute as crimes against humanity are being committed in North Korea against civilian populations imprisoned in the kwan-li-so political labor camps: enforced disappearance, deportation, massive and prolonged extra-judicial and incommunicado imprisonment in violation of the fundamental rules of international law, enslavement, torture, murder, extermination, rape, persecution against identifiable groups on political grounds, and other inhumane acts committed knowingly in a systematic and widespread manner by state police agents operating on behalf of the state authority.

Satellite Photographs-

Satellite Photographs. The report contains 41 satellite photographs of numerous North Korean prison labor camps and penitentiaries holding North Koreans for essentially political offenses. The locations have been confirmed by former prisoners in these facilities.

The first edition of the report, originally published in 2003, is available here: The Hidden Gulag- Exposing North Korea's Prison Camps

Some news outlets have claimed that Camp 22 (but not the other camps) was closed earlier this year, but this report dated October 22, 2012 from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and DigitalGlobe shows otherwise: North Korea's Camp No. 22 It has extensive satellite maps showing the layout of Camp 22 as it existed both in November 2010 and October 2012, and concludes that Camp 22 remains open.

Continued in next post.....

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 11:46 AM
If you have no sympathy for these political prisoners, you should be ashamed. These are not criminals who are having to endure these atrocities. These are people like you and me who are thrown into the camp, oftentimes having no idea why they are even there and given no explanation. For example, people may be thrown in when failing to take adequate care of photographic images of Kim Il-sung!

Perhaps the most troubling is that the prison labor camps employ the idea of "guilt by association", where the mother, children and sometimes grandchildren of the offending political prisoner are imprisoned in a “three-generations” practice. So the prisoner's innocent mother, children and grandchildren can all be thrown into the camp for life.

Another troubling attribute of these camps is detention without trial. According to the article:

those citizens who are to be deprived of their liberty are not arrested, charged (that is, informed of their offense of, or against, a particular criminal act delineated in the DPRK Criminal Code), or tried in any sort of judicial procedure. There is no chance to appear before a judge, confront their accusers, offer a defense or have benefit of legal counsel. The presumed offender is simply picked up, taken to an interrogation facility and frequently tortured to “confess” before being deported to the political penal-labor colony. The family members are also picked up and deported to the kwan-li-so. None of the interviewees reported having been told of the whereabouts or alleged misconduct of the presumed wrong-doing or wrong-thinking head of family.

Friends, neighbors, co-workers, or more distant family members not sent to the camps are not given any information as to the whereabouts of those who have “disappeared” into the mountains.

The mistreatment of children and women is rampant in these camps. Starvation, disfigurement and death are commonplace.

Here is a link to a very interesting site that posts a list of brief personal accounts from guards and prisoners as to some of the atrocities that go on at the camps: Link
I ended up reading each and every one of them because I was shocked and because it was interesting reading. Two examples are below:

A Prisoner Killed for Trying to Save the Lives of Other Prisoners By Ahn Myung Chul, Former Guard of Detention Settlements

In May 1993, I went to Gallery No.1 of the mine sector to get the coal supply for my guard unit. When I was reversing my truck to load coal, the clerk ran to me and said, “Sir, there is a fire at Gallery No.1 today and so I’m afraid you have to wait.” I left my truck and walked toward gallery No.1. I heard two explosions on the way and saw the gallery entrance blocked by explosion. Two security officers, Major Song-il Kim and Colonel Su-chol Lee, were there. Some fifty prisoners, who narrowly escaped the gallery fire, were out there trembling.

One of the prisoners in his thirties approached the security officers and said, “Sir, there is a good number of people inside. Please save their lives.”

The security officer was very angry and shouted at him, “Shut up, you big mouth!” The prisoner did not stop pleading and the other prisoners also joined him.

“Hey, you! Are you protesting?” The security officer produced a pistol and shot at the man’s head. He dropped dead instantly, bleeding from his head. The security officer said, “Who’s next? Who is going to resist? Come forward!” He shot three more bullets in the air. The prisoners were all frightened and said nothing. Then, the officers shouted at them, “Back to work!”

I was so frightened at the sight that I felt my feet trembling and came back to my post without coal that day. When I went back there for coal the next day, I was told that some fifty prisoners died inside the gallery the previous day. They buried them in a big hole. No mourning, no funeral and no identification! Soon, grass will grow on the burial site and there will be no sign of the massacred prisoners.

Infant Killed and Given to a Dog

The following incident took place in October 1987, about a month after I arrived at Life Detention Settlement No. 11. Sgt. Man-sun Kim was the deputy commander of my platoon and had sexual relations with a young female prisoner named Choi, an accountant in the 19th Unit. Sgt. Kim was handsome and kind-hearted and she wanted to have his child. She was about to deliver a baby, hidden in the farm, when she was discovered and arrested by security officers. She delivered a baby under torture. The security officers threw the newly-born infant to a dog during the course of the torture. She withstood all kind of torture and refused to reveal who the father was. They pushed a stick into her vagina and screwed it until she finally confessed. Sgt. Kim was arrested, fired and dismissed from the party immediately. He was sent to a mine in his home province.

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 12:03 PM
One last thing....I am not one to tear up, but I shed a few tears after reading a part of one of the personal accounts that talked about a man who was starving, so he stole a piece of leather and soaked it in water so he could eat it. He was caught and shot in the head. Here was another account that was particularly sad to me:

The political prisoners in the detention settlements are sent to punishment cells if they fail to meet daily work quotas, steal corn, or show a less-than-subservient attitude. They are only allowed to go outdoors and get sunlight once a week for 30 minutes. The prisoners, whether male or female, have their hair cut short and must survive on a daily ration of 100 grams of corn cooked with beans and a small bowl of salt soup. The ration is often reduced for minor offenses. So, the prisoners often use their 30 minutes in the sun to eat as much grass or weeds as they can. If they are caught, however, they are beaten by the guards, often to death.

I was able to watch the prisoners leaving and entering the jail from the guard battalion headquarters building. Most of them crawled. Their clothes were full of blood stains and pus from injuries all over. They were full of lice and smelled awful. During the 30 minutes, they were usually busy killing lice and sucking their thumbs wet with lice blood. Whenever possible, they picked up grass and swallowed without chewing. They had been reduced to beasts.

On one occasion, I saw an old prisoner caught eating grass. The guard hit his chin hard with the handle of his AK 58 gun and shouted, “You dirty old dog!” When the prisoner bent down while holding his bleeding mouth, the guard hit him on his back. He fell to the ground. The guard kicked his head very hard, but the prisoner remained motionless. Blood poured out from his nose and mouth. The other prisoners were ordered to return to their cells. Most of them could not walk. They simply crawled. There were a few guys who could walk, obviously newcomers. Those who could walk were helping others move back to their cells.

A little later, I saw the same guard and chief jail officer checking the prisoner’s pulse. They confirmed his death. They rolled the body in a straw mat and loaded it onto a small truck that went in the direction of Namsok district, the secret killing field in the steep mountain areas.

After the incident, I saw the same guard on the same duty. He was never punished for killing the prisoner.

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 12:44 PM
Excellent thread OP this is exactly the stuff that should be posted on ATS more often, although I found some of that very hard to read I think it is brilliant that you have highlighted this human rights catastrophe it goes to show that the world needs to act.

I hope your thread gets the attention it deserves

S&F (x100)

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 01:26 PM
Thanks. I have no idea why the U.S. or any other country has not stepped up and put huge economic sanctions on North Korea for this. This has been going on at least 40 years and noone is being held accountable for torture and cold-blooded murder of innocent lives.

Unfortunately, this topic never made it to the New Topics list, so I'm afraid it might fall into obscurity.

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 01:35 PM
reply to post by jburg6

There is probably only so much that can be done without a return to full blown war, to be clear America and South Korea are still technically at war with DPRK I would guess that this technicality could be part of the issue. DPRK actually still has custody of a captured American warship I have a friend who has vised DPRK and he is somewhat of an expert on the economics of DPRK next time I see him I will ask for some more information.

There are sanctions in place but sanctions are a balancing act, to many and you start to hurt the population even more.

What’s needed is real hard regime change, ideally through a unification of the Korean peninsula although that would take an act of war and probably lead to northern separatist movement. I think that’s the only way to solve the problem is a though a conflict to unify the peninsula but with the current status quo I don’t think that it’s going to happen any time soon. All the state players involved in this issue are content with that status quo so long as DPRK does not do something stupid or becomes a big enough threat to the national security of its neighbours

Again a very good thread, ATS needs more threads like this it’s unfortunate that it will probably be lost in the plethora of trash that spams the boards.

Keep up the good work

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 01:46 PM
reply to post by jburg6

because last time we tried(and are techincly still at war with north korea) china got involved and we had the longest retreat in us history and one of the only times us forces that have taken a beach have been evacuated via their landing craft and left (months later mind you).the terrain would be terriible and the added risk of north korea just lobbing missles at japan could obiously escalate the situation.dont get me wrong what north korea is doing is horrible its just not as easy as going in iraq style and trying to put in new leaders . the civvilian deaths alone would be atrocious and alot of the north is still angry over us killing roughly 60% of the population of korea during the last war toss it the possiblity of them having nuclear weapons and they become a very tough nut to crack

posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 02:05 PM
I know this is an important topic, but I just can't resist:
The reason IMO the US doesn't intervene is because we're just as guilty of massing "political prisoners" - maybe not quite overtly abusing them as harshly as the North Koreans. NDAA/Patriot Act, Guantanamo, water boarding, extreme rendition...... And then there's those million-plus political prisoners of the drug war.


posted on Nov, 29 2012 @ 02:16 PM
reply to post by ganjoa

I don't disagree with you, but when you start talking about life imprisonment of children and innocent family members, in living conditions 100 times worse than most U.S. prisons, it takes it to a whole new level. I wonder if the convicts in the Florence Supermax prison would rather be sitting in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, or working 16 hour days of hard labor while on the verge of starvation, all the time getting physically beaten and knowing they could be shot dead at any moment for no reason, not to mention their family is in there too getting the same treatment.

posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 04:12 AM

Originally posted by jburg6
Thanks. I have no idea why the U.S. or any other country has not stepped up and put huge economic sanctions on North Korea for this. This has been going on at least 40 years and noone is being held accountable for torture and cold-blooded murder of innocent lives.

Unfortunately, this topic never made it to the New Topics list, so I'm afraid it might fall into obscurity.

How could you think of sanctions if the North Koreans are already suffering as much as this?

posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 04:36 AM
reply to post by jburg6

The North Korean government is infuriatingly frustrating, they ask for help then make it difficult for aide workers to distribute food to the people. Earlier this year, the US cut back food aide due to North Korea's long range missile tests, they were in talks to deliver nearly a quarter of a million tonnes of food to the starving people of NK, instead they bite the hand that feeds them...for whatever ridiculous reason I can't even fathom...

Yes, the US as well as China and South Korea have been propping up the people of NK since the mid 90's, with food and energy assistance, 12 million tonnes since 1995!

posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 08:54 AM
I don't know that sanctions is the best way to handle it. Nuking the entire country doesn't seem like a good option either. What about a jointly collaborated governmental takeover by a coalition of nations? I know after seeing what the U.S. has had their hands in, it makes me skeptical. And I am usually not a proponent of war. But there are certain times where the world powers have to come together and agree to step in for the good of humanity.

posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 03:49 PM
I spent a few evenings trawling YT for videos about North Korea and what i watched was disturbing and an eye opener. Sure there will be propaganda to some extent but frankly North Korea are on a par with Stalin and his gulags and Hitler with the Final Solution. What needs to happen is to have a UN force go in and kick ass. Unfortunately this wont happen. China borders North Korea and any percieved western presecene in North Korea would make China feel threatend. Russia too is on edge and would probably say no. However even their patience has a limit and if the North Koreans do something stupid such as let off a nuke for a laugh then they would themselves go in and sort things out.

I feel sorry for the ordinary people of North Korea, even if they are liberated it is going to take oh probably two generations for the brainwashing to be undone. I care not one jot about the small elite and those in power in North Korea who support the regieme. As far as I am concerned they can enjoy an eternal roasting in the seventh ring of hell!


posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 05:33 PM
reply to post by jburg6

If the people started to revolt against the government, the UN and/or the US would assist.
Much like Libya.

But that seems very unlikely in the near future, the North Korean people are so downtrodden and fearful, they won't act.

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