Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The holocaust which killed eleven million people through gassing, shooting and numerous other methods is something which is rightly scarred into the memory of the world. It was the meeting of modernity through how Nazism facilitated the rounding up and murder of innocent people in such a grotesque way and enormous number and barbarity through the racism and hate filled ideology that conquered Europe at one point. This was an especially dangerous combination and we were rightly told to be vigilant to make sure it never happens on our watch again.
Sadly something similar is happening, not on the European continent but far away in North Korea. A totalitarian necocracy which has a bristling army and has visions of racial superiority of their own people. This combination is nothing new and neither are the outcomes. The United Nations in its report in early 2014 found exactly the sort of violations which one would expect. This report gives the overall picture which entails violations completely across the board with right to food, right to freedom of movement, right to religion and free thought, right to life indeed the list goes on and on. Then the report comes to torture, executions and prison camps and something altogether more chilling is written.
“In the political prison camps of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the inmate population has been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide. The commission estimates that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over the past five decades. The unspeakable atrocities that are being committed against inmates of the kwanliso political prison camps resemble the horrors of camps that totalitarian States established during the twentieth century.”
The government of North Korea interns people in ‘labour camps’ and not only those who have committed the offence but other family members including those three generations down. These detentions even short term ones are completely arbitrary and the prisoners are subjected to torture, rape, forced labour and numerous other violations. The book escape from camp 14 merely confirms what was found by the United Nations commission and adds extra horror to the almost unbelievable truth. The harrowing story of Shin Dong-Hyuk who is one of the only people to ever escape a North Korean internment camp is one that must be read, the kind of cruelty is impossible to imagine yet true.
We have repeatedly and passionately stated that we would never allow another event such as the Holocaust to take place again. The devastating fact remains that the North Korean government is acting in ways which are remarkably similar to the horror of Nazism which we saw during the twentieth century. As again the report states the regime is a culprit of crimes against humanity and their regime is without parallel in the modern world.
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. The commission further finds that crimes against humanity are on-going in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.”
“These are not mere excesses of the State; they are essential components of a political system that has moved far from the ideals on which it claims to be
founded. The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
The fact that not only are we not stopping this through international action but that a member of our Parliament George Galloway as seen here and here can praise this monstrous regime is beyond reproach. Stopping North Korea’s prison camp system should be one of our top foreign policy goals; the inhumanity of this regime isn’t mentioned often and nowhere near enough. It’s time to end our shameless silence on these matters and put mounting and public pressure on international authorities to end this shameful chapter in Korean history.
By Sam Mace, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.