Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Defectors highlight abuses in North Korean prisons

A group of 14 North Korean defectors filed a petition with South Korea’s human rights watchdog over abuses they allegedly suffered in two North Korean prisons, a spokesman said.
The petition comes as Seoul’s National Human Rights Commission collects cases of human rights violations in the communist state as part of a campaign to improve rights conditions in the North. 

Of the group, eight claimed they had suffered severe abuses at the Jongori prison in the northeastern city of Hoeryong and six others said they were mistreated at a prison in the southwestern county of Jungsan. 

One case involved a woman, who fled to China to escape hunger only to be captured, repatriated and imprisoned at the Jongori prison. She was pregnant when she was jailed. “She was forcibly injected for abortion but the baby came out alive. Then prison guards killed the baby,” Secretary General Kim Hee-Tae of the Meeting of Promotion for North Korea Human Rights said.  

In another case, a defector alleged he had seen around 800 dead bodies during an 18-month jail term in the Jungsan County prison between 2000 and 2001. Deaths were caused by malnutrition, disease and mistreatment at the prison, he said, where up to 4,000 prisoners were held, four times its capacity. 

South Korea’s conservative government has abandoned the previous liberal administration’s strategy of quiet diplomacy and decided to turn up the heat on North Korea over its human rights situation.

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