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Human rights abuse plagues North Korean citizens

Having drawn attention to itself for the nuclear testing in February, the more recent threats towards America and South Korea and the shift of ground to air missiles from one coast to another, North Korea has been in the world spotlight for some time now.

But, even before all of these events even started, eyes were turned to the cases of human rights abuse within the country.

Within the past few days, my attention has been turned to what has been happening not just outside of the country, but within the country. Political figures, their families and foreign nationals have all been taken by the North Korean government.

While there are other important matters at hand, why is it important to look at human rights abuse? Since the Holocaust, much more attention has been paid to human rights abuse, such as what is occurring in the North Korean political camps. Individuals have their basic rights stripped of them by the actions taken by the government. Every human is entitled to certain rights, and the people within the North Korean camps have lost their rights.

But what exactly is happening in these North Korean political camps that constitutes as human rights abuse?

Abducted by the North Korean government, politicians and their families are detained and placed in political prison camps scattered throughout North Korea. The people who are detained are considered threats to the regime and need to be removed from society.

While in these camps, the prisoners suffer from lack of food, forced labor, torture and public execution. Amnesty International, a nonprofit international organization with the goal of ending abuses of human rights, states that prisoners are punished if it is thought that they’re lying, if prisoners forget the words to patriotic songs and/or are not working fast enough.

When someone is punished for any of these actions, they are beaten, forced into exercising, sitting without moving for long periods of time and humiliation. Along with inadequate food, the beatings, the lack of medical care and poor working conditions, prisoners fall ill. Some die while they’re still held in prison, while others die shortly after being released.

In order to be released from these political camps, prisoners go through “revolutionary processing zones,” in which the prisoners are re-educated to be let back out into society. The prisoners eligible to be released are not bad offenders in the eyes of the North Koreans.

But the prisoners that are considered to be more serious offenders are sent to “total control zones,” where they do not have the chance of being released back into society. Sometimes, families are sent into the mountains, where they forced to live off of nature.

The political prison camps have existed for a long time, but with the change of power from Kim Jong-il to his son and current ruler, Kim Jong-un, the growth of space that the camps occupy has grown. Compared to satellite images from 2004-2006, noticeable size changes have occurred in the different camps, the land being taken up changing. But, it is unknown if the total amount of prisoners are growing.

Estimates have shown no change within the recent years, but the guess is that prisoners are being transferred between the different camps.

While the focus of human rights abuse is being focused on the political prison camps, food shortages throughout the country is also a concern for the overall well-being of the country’s citizens. Too busy with nuclear testing and threatening other powers, the North Korean government is not paying attention to what is happening within their country. Not much is known though, about the food shortages, besides citizens cannot afford food for themselves and their families, along with the stunted growth and malnutrition of the children.

One of the biggest faults of organizations such as the United Nations is that they do not take action during situations such as what is happening in North Korea.

After years of human rights abuse, the peacekeeping organizations are now just doing something about the apparent abuses within the country.

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