The Chinese foreign ministry has decided that the UN’s new 400-page Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea is an ‘unreasonable criticism’ that is ‘politicising human rights issues.’ Even if the report were political—and it’s not, in any ‘Capitalism and Democracy for all!’ kind of sense—it’s still scathing, and provides a brutally informative look inside the country.
The UN report explains that the DPRK “operates an all-encompassing indoctrination machine that takes root from childhood to propagate an official personality cult and to manufacture absolute obedience,” and, after reading the other findings in the report, this indoctrination campaign seems almost mundane.
One of the biggest bombshell paragraphs goes as follows:
In the political prison camps of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the inmate population has been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labor, 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. [My emphasis]
Compared to “hundreds of thousands” dead in prison camps, other key points of report (lack of freedom of information, speech, and religion) don’t have their normal gravity; the chief problem with a concentration camp isn’t that they censor the library.
Further hundreds of thousands were reportedly killed by “widespread and grave violations of the right to food” (i.e. starvation) caused by “decisions, actions and omissions by the state and its leadership.” The report claims that “at least hundreds of thousands” (implying potential millions) died from starvation, and that those who survived experienced “permanent physical and psychological injuries.”
Depriving food has also been used as a routine method of interrogation, where “starvation and other inhumane conditions of detention are deliberately imposed on suspects to increase the pressure on them to confess” to political crimes.
It’s bad. It’s really bad. The report is one of the most detailed UN projects ever run on the DPRK, and it has called for Kim Jong Un to potentially face an international tribunal for crimes against humanity. China isn’t having any of that, however, and claims, “We [China] believe that taking human rights issues to the international criminal court is not helpful to improving a country’s human rights situation.”
Well, great. The UN has called North Korea’s actions “crimes that shock the conscience of humanity,” but the Chinese government is apparently not impressed.
[Image via Leef Smith]