Crisis in North Korea hit me hard...

((All info quoted from LiNK. I take no credit for this other than passing the information to the reader.))

A Cult of Personality: Indoctrination programs to worship Kim Jong II start in nursery school, every citizen has a Kim pin on his/her lapel, there are Kim portraits in every household, and there is no tolerance for criticizing or "subverting" the Kim regime in any way.

Lack of Fundamental Freedoms: The North Korean government prohibits freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. Not only wrong-doers, but "wrong-thinkers" are punished, the press in centrally controlled, and there is virtually no access to outside information. North Korea consistently ranks last among the countries with the lowest level of press freedom. Freedom of religion, physical movement, and workers' rights are also severely restricted.

Food Crisis: Over one million people perished in the devastating famine in the mid-1990s due to natural disasters, the collapse of the PDS (Public Distribution System) and gross government neglect and mismanagement. 33% of the population is currently undernourished, 23% of children under the age of 5 are underweight, and a near-total breakdown in the public health system has left and entire generation of children physically and mentally impaired.

North Korea relies heavily on international food aid. Less than 23% of its land is arable, as farmers removed trees for food, resulting in deforestation, soil erosion, nutrient depletion, and increased susceptibility to flooding. As of April of 2010, North Korea's grain shortfall has been estimated at 1.3 million tons, and the World Food Programme has estimated that 6.2 million North Koreans are short of food.

Because of discriminatory food distribution and transparency issues, continuing food aid has been a challenge for many NGOs inside North Korea. Due to these issues and a decrease in donor support, World Food Programme has estimated that they may be forced to withdraw efforts by summer of 2010.

Political Concentration Camps: Over 200,000 "violators" are overworked, tortured, raped or publicly executed in political prison camps across the country. There were previously 14 locations that have been condensed into five major prison camps - most verified by corroborating testimonies of North Korean defectors as well as satellite images. Entire families are imprisoned, including children, up to three generations, because a relative had committed a crime such as expressing disloyalty to the government. Conditions in the camps are alleged to be extremely harsh and systematic and widespread human rights abuses occur. Most prisoners are not expected to survive due to such extreme conditions. Some reports have estimated that more than 400,000 prisoners may have already died in this system.

Crimes Against Humanity: Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines 11 categories of acts that constitute crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation/forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, torture rape/sexual slavery/enforced prostitution, persecution, and enforced disappearance of persons, apartheid, and other inhumane acts. With the exception of apartheid, every single one of these crimes against humanity is being committed on a systematic basis in North Korean political prisons.

Contracted Labor: North Korea maintains labor contracts with countries through government entities and foreign firms. North Korean laborers who work under such arrangements are denied freedom of movement and a large portion of their salaries are deposited into government accounts. There are an estimated 10,000 to 70,000 North Korean laborers worldwide and many are subjected to harsh conditions in jobs involving construction and logging.

REFUGEES

Estimates of up to 300,000 refugees have fled to neighboring China and are hiding in the underground. These refugees risk torture and execution if captured and repatriated to North Korea. In violation of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 19167 Protocol, China repatriates all North Koreans who have illegally crossed the border.

Third Countries: A fraction of North Korean refugees in China escape to third countries with the intention of seeking asylum. Third countries include Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Mongolia. With the exception of Cambodia, these countries are not state parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention. The preferred escape routes are through Mongolia and Thailand with their relatively friendly policies toward North Korean refugees, meaning that these countries are willing to contribute resources to aid in the resettlement.

Women and Children: North Korean refugees in China, particularly women and children, face serious exploitation and sex trafficking. Over 80% of North Korean refugees are victims of human trafficking in China. Within North Korea, children are routinely forced into child labor, and are subject to extremely abusive or dangerous situations.

Resettlement: In the US, approximately 100 North Koreans refugees have been resettled since the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2004 to early 2010. In South Korea, approximately 17,000 have been resettled from 1994 to 2010. In Europe, approximately 2,902 have been resettled from 1994 to 2008, and an additional 151 are estimated to be in other nations.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

South Korean Political Stance: The South Korean Constitution recognizes all North Korean defectors as South Korean citizens. The South Korean government previously promoted a policy of rapprochement with the North, during the course of which human rights were severely neglected. Inter-Korean relations have sharply deteriorated under President Lee Myung-bak's administration. At the outset of his term, Lee advocated a policy of increased reciprocity and improvements of human rights. The North subsequently cut off official dialogue and demanded that Lee implement agreements reached in the 2000 and 2007 Summits. However, when Lee expressed a willingness to engage, tensions increased after a South Korean citizen was shot and killed at the North Korean Mount Geumgang resort on July 11, 2008.

North Korean Official Stance: The North Korean government categorically denies any human rights violations within the DPRK and maintains that the "people-centered socialist system" champions the rights of its people. North Korean officials have claimed that "the customary allegations [of human rights violations] based on unsubstantiated information are a part of a [sic] parcel of the US policy of isolating and stifling the DPRK."
Posted on November 24th, 2010 at 07:13pm

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