“After North Korea’s nuclear dismantled, it is time for North Korean human rights which is Kim Jong Il’s Achilles’ Hill,” said Ahn Myong Chol, Vice President of Network Against North Korean Gulag and a former political prison guard.
At a speech sponsored by North Korean Human Rights Youth and Student Coalition on 19th, Ahn argued “the worst place of human rights violation in North Korea to be political prison camps.”
Ahn, served as a guard at political prison camp from 1987 to 1994, defected North Korea when his father criticized the North Korean regime while drunken and the whole family sent to another gulag and be executed. Ahn came to South Korea in 1995.
He said in the speech that “North Korean regime has survived because of gulags. Political prison camps are an effective means of popular control and also an economic powerhouse. For example, the Camp Number 22 produces a lot of coal.”
Ahn emphasized human rights violation in the camps as such: “Inside the camp that I served, few kids were sent because of their own fault. They suffered forced-labor anyway because of Kim Il Sung’s instruction on ‘Terminating three generations of traitors.’ Prison guards kept telling the children that they were here to compensate their parents’ guilt, so to make them against their own parents.”
He explained the change in purpose of concentration camps. “At first, the camps intended on immediate annihilation of all prisoners, but the number was too large. So the policy was changed to forced labor until death.”
In the meantime, prisoners’ only hope is to get married (in recognition of one’s servitude) in prison. “Children born by the prisoners rarely have chance to meet their parents. They are not citizens of North Korea, neither they know Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Ahn said.
I saw public execution too much,” Ahn said regretfully, “and prison guards have become dull seeing execution.”
When a college student asked about the fate of prisoners after reunification, Ahn replied, “The policy is to kill all of them before it happens. I saw a new dam constructed from a satellite picture in 2000. If destroyed, it could flood the entire Camp No。22 and kill all of the inmates.”
Head of the student organization, Yoon Joo ong, said the purpose of inviting Ahn was “to raise the awareness of North Korean human rights among South Korean college students.” He made it sure that the Coalition would always be open to those who are interested in North Korean human rights.”