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    Bush Plan for North Korea Ignores Labor Camps, Activists Say

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    Bush Plan for North Korea Ignores Labor Camps, Activists Say

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:12 am

    July 24 -- Human-rights activists say U.S. President George W. Bush is turning his back on thousands of North Korean political prisoners with his plan to remove Kim Jong Il's regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

    Taking the isolated communist nation off the list would eliminate a source of leverage to pressure Kim to dismantle prison camps where as many as 200,000 men, women and children are starved and tortured, the activists say.

    ``I felt betrayed when I heard the move by the U.S. president, though I knew the list refers to international terrorist acts,'' said Hiroshi Kato, director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, a Tokyo-based group. ``I don't think the U.S. government knows enough about human-rights abuses and the gulags of North Korea.''

    The U.S. began the process of taking North Korea off the list June 26, after the country submitted an inventory of its nuclear materials and programs as part of a pledge to disable its weapons capability. The removal would take effect August 11, after a 45-day mandatory waiting period.

    ``Inspections of North Korea's nuclear facilities have been a focus of attention,'' Kang Chol Hwan, a former prisoner, said in April at the inaugural meeting of No Fence in North Korea, another Tokyo-based human-rights group. ``What we want now is the inspection of North Korea's political prison camps.''

    Violence, Torture

    The U.S. State Department estimates there are 150,000 to 200,000 people in the camps, where ``detainees and prisoners consistently reported violence and torture'' and many ``were not expected to survive,'' according to the Country Report on Human Rights Practice 2007, released in March 2008.

    About 30 former inmates have fled to South Korea through China and other countries. They say prisoners are held in five or six sprawling gulags, some of which are divided into two zones: one for ``lifetime'' prisoners and one for ``revolutionizing'' prisoners who might someday be released.

    ``We cannot know the extent of the system, but the massive size of some camps can be seen from satellite imagery,'' said Chuck Downs, executive director of the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. ``The prisoners are subjected to the worst forms of hard labor,'' he said.

    Kim's regime imprisons people without any judicial procedure, the committee said in a November 2007 report. The system includes a ```collective responsibility,' whereby multiple generations of the offender's family are also imprisoned,'' the report said.

    `Shoot Them All'

    Ahn Myong Chol, a former guard who defected to South Korea in 1994, said thousands of prisoners from the lifetime zones were forced to dig tunnels for North Korea's underground nuclear test in October 2006. The government taught him not to treat inmates as human beings, he said. ``We were ordered to shoot them all if a war or riot breaks out.''

    Human Rights Watch in Seoul said it has heard of ``extreme human-rights violations'' in the camps. ``What needs to be done is for North Korea to allow UN and NGO experts to visit the facilities,'' said Kay Seok, a North Korea researcher for the group.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos referred requests for comment to statements by Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defending their decision to remove North Korea from the terrorism list.

    `Deeply Concerned'

    ``We remain deeply concerned about North Korea's human- rights abuses'' and other nuclear and conventional-weapon threats the country poses, Bush said in his June 26 speech announcing the decision, adding that other sanctions remain in effect.

    ``The nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are not bargaining chips,'' Rice said June 18 in a speech to the Heritage Foundation policy center in Washington, according to a transcript.

    The U.S. listed North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in January 1988 after the bombing of Korean Airlines flight 858 the previous year.

    Removing North Korea from the list risks ignoring the brutality taking place in the country, said Haruhisa Ogawa, a professor emeritus at Tokyo University and a founder of No Fence in North Korea. ``The nature of the camps changed when North Korea's economy began to deteriorate in the 1970s; they were turned into slave factories,'' he said.

    Kim Sang Hun, a human-rights activist in Seoul and former officer with the World Food Program, said the camps have become ``the production base of the North Korean economy.''

    Lifetime Zone

    Shin Dong Hyuk, 25, was born in the No. 14 camp in Kaechon, 75 kilometers north of Pyongyang. He spent 22 years in the camp's lifetime zone until he escaped in the winter of 2005, eventually arriving in Seoul in August 2006.

    In an interview, he said he worked in a sewing factory, where 2,000 female and 500 male prisoners toiled 14 hours a day making military uniforms for the People's Army. The camp had factories that made glass, paper, cement and ceramics, as well as a food-processing plant, pig farms and at least two coal mines that employed 550 prisoners, he said.

    ``North Korea's terrorist activities are not just nuclear programs, bombing or kidnapping,'' said Sakie Yokota, 72, whose daughter, Megumi, was abducted by North Korean agents from a Japanese coastal town in 1977 when Megumi was 13.

    ``The government allows its own people to starve, tramples on their human dignity and runs political-prison camps. Isn't that terrorizing its own people?''
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    Re: Bush Plan for North Korea Ignores Labor Camps, Activists Say

    Post by car0_linex on Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:48 pm

    thank 4 sharing affraid

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    Re: Bush Plan for North Korea Ignores Labor Camps, Activists Say

    Post by sodong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:29 am

    thanks 4 info bro garuda rock
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    Re: Bush Plan for North Korea Ignores Labor Camps, Activists Say

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:38 am

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