More and more ruthless…International community intervention needed

[imText1]A report has been published which depicts the systematized methods in how North Korean officials torture defectors.

The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (representative, Benjamin Yoon) conducted an in-depth investigation with 20 defectors (9 male, 11 female) over a period of 7 months on differing torture methods by North Korea’s national bureau, such as the National Security Agency and the People’s Protection Agency. The report, titled “North Korea: Republic of Torture” was published on the 13th.

This report claimed that North Korean authorities enforced standardized torture such as beatings, assault and confinement in order to get the prisoners to confess and raised the concern that these tortures were only worsening.

Furthermore, rations are not distributed in the prisons and so prisoners inevitably meet their death tortured in a malnourished state.

If a prisoner dies during torture, investigations on the cause of death are not made and officials create a fallacy that the prisoner committed suicide because of guilt, claimed the report.

The report stated “Even if a person dies of torture and the deceased body is returned to the family, the cause of death is stated ‘It is reasonable that death was received as the penalty for a person who committed a crime and was unable to wash away from his/her sins’” and revealed that “A tag then identifies the family as a family with a criminal.”

Additionally, the report highlighted the fact that prisoners were experiencing extreme torture. Particularly, without even the bare minimum of food, detainees are sent to the “basement” where their arms and legs are twisted behind their backs. The person is then positioned to hang in mid-air for long hours; this known as the notorious “pigeon torture.”

“Since the late 90’s, the succession of defectors rose dramatically and in order to combat this, North Korean authorities began campaigning control and severe punishment” said the report and explained, “These claims have been based on a long-term investigation made by the National Saftey Agency in Musan in 1999 on custodial facilities.”

The report continued, “Since 2000, women have been subject to inhumane exploitation on a daily basis… Female detainees are stripped of their clothing and made to sit then stand repeatedly in their naked state.” Making the woman repeatedly sit and stand naked, comes from the idea of shaking the money collected in China to fall from one’s body and is a form of basic torture taking a trend to other regions.

In particular, “North Korea’s National Safety Agency and China’s Public Security united in a secret pact in 1998~1999 to repatriate defectors back to North Korea” the report claimed and asserted, “China is also participating in human rights violations against North Korean citizens.”

The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights is urging for the Korean government and international community to intervene and end the repatriation of North Korean defectors in China. The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights will also issue the report in English, and at the end of this month present it to Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights in the North Korea, hoping to raise the chance of discussing the issue of torture.

The 20 participants of the investigation have come from a range of provinces such as Onsung, Hoiryeong, Musan, Kyunsung, Chongjin, Hamju in South Hamkyung, Shinuiju in North Pyongan and Pyongyang. The participants had all experienced different types of torture during the period 1993~2005 in 8 different types of environments including gulags, education centers, concentration camps, labor camps and street kids camps.