Posted October. 17, 2009 08:30,
North Korea is operating six concentration camps holding 154,000 political prisoners, a report submitted to Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of South Koreas ruling Grand National Party said yesterday.
This was the first confirmation by Seoul of details about the Norths notorious concentration camps.
The South has been aware of the camps since 2005 but has reportedly not disclosed such information in the interest of maintaining inter-Korean relations.
According to the report, most of the political prisoners are former senior officials who lost out in political struggles, dissidents and escapees. They also include, however, a number of ordinary people sent there for a slip of the tongue.
Human rights abuses at the camps are known to have reached a serious level under which the fundamental right to survival is threatened. Political prisoners there are reportedly forced to work more than 10 hours and denied access to medical care, receiving only 100 to 200 grams of food rations.
Considering that the average North Korean food ration is 234 grams for children up to age four, the survival prospects of the prisoners seem dim.
Political prisoners caught while attempting to escape are subject to public execution in front of all other inmates at the site. In addition, female inmates are frequently raped.
The ruling party requested in May 2006 that the South Korean government disclose information on the concentration camps, only to be rejected by the National Intelligence Service.
Concentration camps for political prisoners in North Korea are the worst of their kind and a means of psychological torture, Rep. Yoon said. Dismantling the camps is a key part of North Korean issues that the international community has to address.