Those who thought that Soviet-style gulags were a thing of the past after the collapse of the Iron Curtain are wrong … dead wrong.
North Korea has a “hidden gulag” with 150,000 to 200,000 political prisoners in it, including entire families, meaning parents and children. That such oppression occurs in North Korea is not a surprise. That is happening on such a magnitude is.
A human rights group based in the United States released a report on North Korean political prisons this week. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea based its report on satellite images and interviews with 60 former guards and prisoners at the gulag. The report also documents infanticides and the forced abortion of women who illegally crossed into China, got pregnant there and were repatriated to North Korea.
That there are 150,000 to 200,000 people in such a political prison in any country would be distressing, but North Korea has only 24 million people, which means a significant segment of the population is locked up for nothing more than political dissent.
Political prisoners in North Korea are persecuted for being political “wrong thinkers” or for their religious beliefs. They often are given life sentences without judicial process and are forced to work in mining, agricultural and logging operations and housed behind barbed wire or electric fences.
Much of the political repression in North Korea started during the reigns of terror of Kim Jong-Il and his father, Kim Il-sung, both ruthless communist dictators who isolated North Korea from the world, particularly the Western world. Kim Jong-Il’s son Kim Jong-un, has been in charge of North Korea since his father’s death in December, but hopes of him making North Korea any less repressive, or any less of a nuclear threat, seem to be waning.
Some will argue that people in the United States should not criticize North Korea for its prisoner population because the United States has a large percentage of its population behind bars, too. And while we would agree our prison population is too large, the difference is in this country is no one is locked up for simply being a “wrong thinker.”
North Korean political prisons.
The repression continues.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Send us your thoughts on this topic to www.ivpressonline.com/letterstotheeditor
Concerned about a current issue? Want to share your point of view? We want to hear from you. Send a letter to the Editor. Click here!