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June 26, 2008

The Problem with North Korea

Starving_children This morning President Bush announced his plan to lift key trade sanctions from North Korea after the communist regime handed over accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials. This was just one step in denuclearization. He said he remains very skeptical. And Secretary of State Rice said that mere verbal admittance isn't enough. "We will not accept that statement on faith. We will insist on verification," she wrote today in the Wall Street Journal.

Bush did call this move only a "first step" -- and one that can be rescinded if North Korea fails to be forthcoming. He also mentioned being "deeply concerned about North Korea's human rights abuses," for which sanctions remain in place. I, for one, hope this administration and the one to come continue to put North Korea's horrific human rights abuses in the spotlight.

Four years ago the North Korea Human Rights Act was finally passed and signed into law. Implementation, however, is the proof of its significance. North Korea's citizens have been victimized by their government for too long.

Recently, Point blogger and former BreakPoint intern Angelise Anderson detailed the horrifying conditions of North Korea's prison camps and what happens to prisoners and their families.

North Korea is one of the most unrecognized human rights tragedies of all time. The North Korea Freedom Coalition estimates that anywhere from 400,000 to one million people have perished in Kim Jong Il’s slave-labor camps.

Satellite photos reveal sprawling encampments decorating the North Korean landscape. Some are more than 20 square miles in size, containing multiple, enclosed, self-contained “villages” for different categories of prisoners: one for “political criminals,” another for the families. For example, “Unit 22” is dedicated to family members of presumed North Korean criminals.

Images of Nazi Germany’s ethnic cleansing may come to mind, and for good reason. Today, a gulag—a human blood-bath of Holocaust proportions—is occurring in North Korea. Besides those hundreds of thousands who have perished in Kim Jong Il’s slave-labor camps, many more have died of starvation or from trying to escape the country.

One of every four North Korean Christians are in jail, and five out of six repatriated from China die after their return. North Korean officials practice all forms of torture to get prisoners to confess of crimes that they did not commit—such as interaction with Chinese, Westerners, or Christians. Those who survive the torture are sent to slave-labor camps with little food rations. Stories of prisoners hunting down rats for food or fighting over a kernel of corn found in cow waste are not uncommon.

Continue reading Angelise's article, "Modern-Day Holocaust."

We need to continue to press our lawmakers and the administration to put human rights at the forefront of any talks, meetings, decisions, etc., regarding North Korea. Visit North Korea Freedom Coalition and Open Doors for more ideas on what you can do.

(Image © Flat Rock)

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Steve Skeete

Reading Modern-Day Holocaust by Angelise Anderson caused a wave of emotions to sweep over me. I was at one and the same time angry, sad, and totally frustrated at the state of affairs in North Korea. The enormity of the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent people brought grief to my soul.

It caused me to marvel at the kind of world we live in, where tyrants and psychopaths like Kim Jong Il can terrorize and torment millions of people while world leaders - who spend hours talking tediously about democracy and human rights, turn around and pay him billions of dollars not to produce nuclear weapons.

Not a word of condemnation or disapproval from sympathizers in Asia, appeasers in Europe, nor the apathetic in the North. All the massive donations of grain has not saved one North Korean from tyranny. This "Axis" of evil now has access to the world's money and food, but the leopard still has all of its spots.

If you ask me to give three examples to demonstrate that the freedom loving nations of the world have gone soft, the ones that readily sping to mind are Darfur, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

We have lost the nerve to stand up to political bullies and self-made gods and millions of innocents are daily paying the price for our timidity.

Total capitulation cannot be far behind.

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