150,000 ‘incarcerated’ in N Korean prisoner camp
WASHINGTON - The Associated PressMore than 150,000 North Koreans are incarcerated in a Soviet-style, hidden gulag despite the communist government’s denial it holds political prisoners, a human rights group reported yesterday.
The U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said it based its report on interviews with 60 former prisoners and guards. It includes satellite images of what are described as prison labor camps and penitentiaries. The report documents the alleged incarceration of entire families, including children and grandparents for the “political crimes” of other family members, and infanticide and forced abortions of female prisoners who illegally crossed into China and got pregnant by men there, and were then forcibly repatriated to North Korea.
It cites estimates from North Korean state security agency officials who defected to South Korea that the camp system holds between 150,000 and 200,000 people out of a total population of around 24 million. The 200-page report described different kinds of detention facilities, including penal labor colonies where it says political detainees are imprisoned without judicial process for mostly lifetime sentences in mining, logging or agricultural enterprises. The committee says the report’s findings contradict a December 2009 statement by North Korea to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the political prisoner camps do not exist.