Waterloo, Ontario (PRWEB) September 25, 2012
“It is our way of showing respect and honour for the people of North Korea whose government has disregarded, disrespected and has systematically and intentionally starved millions of their own people,” said Paul Weigel. Weigel is the President and Founder of The Forerunner Project Inc. which presented “Behind Closed Doors - The Human Rights Crisis in North Korea” at CIGI. The event featured renowned experts on human rights and was aimed at raising awareness of the atrocities taking place in North Korea - a country widely regarded as the worst human rights offender in the world.
“It’s a land where only the very fittest survive. Starvation, horrific living conditions and brainwashing from birth are constant realities; and attempting to escape across the border results in execution if caught,” said Dr. R. Howard-Hassmann , the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights Department of Global Studies and Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University. Other participants in the event included online commentator, Dr. David Hawk, whose most recent book, The Hidden Gulag – Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps (Second Edition), is regarded as the most comprehensive report on North Korea’s “slave labour camps”.
Kim Hye Sook is among only 3 people known to have escaped the North Korean prison camps. She was imprisoned at age 13 and spent 28 years in the gulag for a crime of which her grandfather was accused. Her drawings displayed in the CIGI auditorium lobby depicted the horrors of slave camp life, the most notable of which was her 9 meter by 2 meter (30’ x 6’) map of Bukchang camp.
Mr. Kyung B. Lee, founder of “The Council for Human Rights in North Korea”, advocated for the UN to launch a “Commission of Inquiry” into the human rights abuses in North Korea and to also invoke the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” resolution. R2P requires the international community to intervene when a nation’s government can’t or won’t protect and provide for its citizens. Even though it is the law, no one seems willing to challenge North Korea and its ally, China.
Escapee/defector Young Hee Kim (an assumed name), with her face and head covered to disguise her identity, testified of the horrific trials she endured. North Korea’s policy of “Guilt by Association” punishes the families of defectors and other crimes to the 3rd generation. Young Hee Kim’s gripping story told how 1/3 of her neighbours died of starvation and how she, to her shame, was reduced to stealing food to survive. Young recounted tearfully, how her husband would cross into China to get food and medicine, but was eventually caught, resulting in his imprisonment, torture, starvation and death.
In their World Report 2012: North Korea, Human Rights Watch reports, "Common forms of torture include sleep deprivation, beatings with iron rods or sticks, kicking and slapping, and enforced sitting or standing for hours. Detainees are subject to so-called pigeon torture, in which they are forced to cross their arms behind their back, are handcuffed, hung in the air tied to a pole, and beaten with a club. Guards also rape female detainees. One study done in 2010 found that 60 percent of refugee respondents who had been incarcerated witnessed a death due to beating or torture."
China refuses to grant refugee status to fleeing North Koreans; they return them to North Korea with the full knowledge that they will be imprisoned, tortured and executed. The UN Human Rights Council has been unable (some say unwilling) to confront China and make it comply with International Law.
During the Kim dynasty period (1948 – present), approximately 4.7 million people have been imprisoned in North Korea. According to a CNN Article, human rights group Amnesty International believes up to 200,000 prisoners are currently being held "in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps". The North Korean government denies that these camps exist but satellite pictures prove otherwise. These prisoners face torture and starvation for “defying” their country. They are fed based on the amount of work that they do; the diabolic irony is that they are extremely malnourished and therefore unable to do much work.
It is estimated that the late leader Kim Jung-Il (1994 – 2011), legally declared the “Supreme Leader”, was responsible for starving more than a million and a half of his own people, while he spent 6 billion dollars on developing nuclear arms. A BBC article writes it is "estimated that up to two million people have died since the mid-1990s because of acute food shortages caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement". Though he was portrayed as a god in North Korea, his “Military First” policy has diverted western aid to the elite class leaving more than 6 million people at risk of starvation. Every day, 100-200 people are found dead of starvation on the streets of Pyongyang, the capital. Dr. Howard-Hassmann has called it “state induced famine” something she is working to have classified as genocide in international law.
The “Hunger Games” are a dark reality in North Korea! Did Suzanne Collins base her novel on the totalitarian state dominated by demi-god Kim Jong Il and the personal stories of the North Koreans who have escaped? There are many similarities. The “Hunger Game” is the way Kim Jong Eun, North Korea’s new leader, seems keep his people in line. It appears he has no regard for human life and that makes North Korea one of the most dangerous nations on Earth. When you think of the “Hunger Games” world that Suzanne Collins conceived in her book, you assume it’s not real, but unfortunately, it is a reality for most North Koreans.
“Totalitarian regimes are built on lies and can be damaged, even destroyed, when those lies are exposed. The greater and more detailed evidence that can be provided, the more damage the truth can do.” Dr. David Hawk
There are many simple but powerful actions you can take to defend North Koreans and make change. You can help others become aware of the truth by “sharing” this article or the video attached to it through your Facebook, Twitter, Email or whatever you prefer.
You can also join the common voice of those who insist on change in North Korea by signing this petition.