Based on new satellite imagery and personal interviews of former inmates and guards, Amnesty International describes conditions in the Nork's political prison camps as "horrific".
And as the world's only hereditary communist dictatorship prepares for a transfer of power -and a potential period of instability- the Gulag-type camps appear to be growing in size...
Amnesty International believes the camps
have been in operation since the 1950s, yet only three people are ever known to
have escaped Total Control Zones and managed to leave
Satellite images show four of the six
camps occupying huge areas of land and located in vast wilderness sites in
South Pyongan, South Hamkyung
A comparison of the latest images with satellite imagery from 2001 indicates a significant increase in the scale of the camps.
In just one camp, Kwanliso 15 at Yodok, thousands of people are believed to be held as "guilty-by-association" or sent to the camps simply because one of their relatives has been detained.
The majority of prisoners, including some of those ‘guilty-by-association’, are held in areas known as ‘Total Control Zones’ from which they will never be released.
A significant proportion of those sent to the camps don’t even know what crimes they’re accused of...
Of course, brutal treatment and meager food rations based on performance meant a lot of people starve to death. Add to that frequent executions performed in front of all the camp and you can imagine how the bodies might pile up. One former prisoner described death as a daily occurrence at the camp, but one that actually made him "happy" because burying the body got him an extra bowl of corn meal.
The North Koreans are authorities are also known to use a cube ‘torture cell’, designed so the fetus-position prisoner cannot either stand or lie down. Troublemakers are thrown in for at least one week, but they reported one case of a child thrown into the cell for eight months.
In most of the camps -hidden in frigid mountain ranges- the prisoners face harsh winters wearing for years what they were arrested in... as NO clothing is provided whatsoever.
And as we all know, food in the worker's paradise of the DPRK is always scarce: while the Army and
Amnesty International has been told of several accounts of people eating rats or picking corn kernels out of fresh manure purely to survive, despite the risks to life and limb: it's not just the sanitation issue, as anyone caught risks solitary confinement or other torture.