Human-rights groups pressure North Korea
More 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 US-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 labour 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.
The US envoy on North Korean human rights, Robert King, is due to address the conference, which takes place as the international spotlight shines on the North over its plans to launch a long-range rocket and, according to South Korean intelligence, a third nuclear weapons test.
"It is not just nuclear weapons that have to be dismantled," said Roberta Cohen, chairwoman of the committee's board of directors, "but an entire system of political repression."