Prisoners in the re-education camps in North Korea

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North Korea is no different from other countries, having prisons that are secret are normality within the government. Many politicians have not yet commented about these camps but, Donald Trump showed his support when asked about his thoughts towards Kim Jong Un reeducation camps saying, It is rough, Its rough in many places…Not just here (Trump’s News Conference). This shows how having a prison is not something other than normal.

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Can we only say that North Korea is the only one with prisons that claim in having no knowledge of? One of the oldest camps is located in Kaechon City where between 4,000 and 6,000 prisoners are forced to operate dangerous heavy machinery and use toxic chemicals to produce textiles and leather. The treatment of these prisoners is inhumane and needs to be corrected. Korea is using unethical practices to re-educate prisoners with violations of the Pyongyang’s penal code. These camps are arranged all through the nation, both on the edges of urban communities and in immense mixes in the mountains. Prisoners in the re-education camps are forced to do hard labor such as mining in near-starvation conditions. Prison work units have production quotas, and failure to meet the quotas can frequently result in a further reduction in food rations and even beatings (The Parallel Gulag). Prisoners are forced to make shoes and military holsters, some of which are exported overseas. Because some camps are located in rural locations, prisoners are sent to work in fields or rice paddies and tend livestock. Prisoners are also forced to mine copper and iron, cut logs and make bricks.

Many people who have committed serious economic crimes such as making too much money in markets end up in these camps including those who have attempted to escape from North Korea. Horrendous interrogations and maltreatment have been reported in these camps in addition as political detainees, who have customarily been indicted of demonstrating or speaking out against the regime. Political prisoners are sent for life, often with three generations of their families accompanying them. There are also short-term forced labor prisons for misdemeanors in the North Korean system, where prisoners are held for less than a year but also in horrific conditions.

One camp called the Hoeryong concentration camp also known as “Camp 22” closed in 2012 after a warder defected but extreme human rights violations including routine torture, forced labor, and human medical experiments have previously been reported (North Korea Prisons). There are many examples of how these people are tortured. Some prisoners are routinely deprived of water, and food torture includes sleep deprivation, beatings with iron rods or sticks, kicking and slapping, and enforced sitting or standing for hours’ (Inside North Korea’s Barbaric Prisons). The torture of these prisoners is an issue because of its unethical and inhumane ways to treat prisoners for their religious affiliation or merely speaking about their government. These prisons have been described to be somewhat similar to Nazi camps, the way that not only are the prisoners being used for hard labor and its inhumane living conditions but being deprived of food, they are forced to eat rats and frogs to survive. The grossly inadequate food rations keep prisoners in a persistent state of hunger and malnutrition (North Korea). Housed in cramped cells infested with lice, regular beatings, and potentially fatal torture is usual. Then there is the hard labor, which includes pulling plows across fields for 12 hours a day. These prisoners are not only adults but children as well.

These people are being tortured and abused, and there are things that we as Americans can do to stop it. One of the biggest things we can do is raise awareness all across the world. We can encourage our government to stand up to North Korea on behalf of those innocent men, women, and children. By contacting our representatives, The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives each have a bill reauthorizing and reinforcing the North Korean Human rights act. Section of these bills would guarantee the U.S. keeps attempting to help individuals in North Korea- both the individuals who remain, and the individuals who escape the country.

Former American prisoners were recently released from North Korea, and one of them died after he returned home because he was flown home with severe brain damage (Trump welcomes freed prisoners home). Imagine your family or loved one’s being tormented and killed brutally and being helpless to do anything about it. We need to stop this before the situation grows to encompass more American citizens and endanger their lives.

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