New Camp for Political Prisoners Discovered in North Korea
November 22, 2016 by Jannelle P in Asia
The Human Rights in North Korea Committee reports the discovery of a new kwan-li-so, the name North Korea uses for political labor camps from which there is no escape. The official name of the camp is unknown, so the researchers call it Ch’oma-Bong, after the name of a nearby village. Though the camp was initially built over a decade ago and has recently been expanded, it is still one of the smaller camps. As far as North Korean camps go, it appears to be fairly well maintained. There is no way to determine the prisoner population, but the recent construction of over 54 new housing units suggests significant growth. Detainees, and possibly civilians, work mainly in agriculture and mining around the camp. It’s likely that prisoners are required to do the majority of the dangerous work in the mines.
Ch’oma-Bong is located only 45 miles northeast of the capital Pyongyang. A portion of the camp’s security fence is shared with infamous Camp 14. Two high security compounds have been built, which suggests that “high value” prisoners are being kept there. There are no roads leading up to the security guard posts, which indicate that they patrol largely by foot. The camp is connected to a railway station located just over a mile away.
North Korea has led the World Watch List for 14 consecutive years now. According to 2016 WWL information,
Kim Jong-un has continued to consolidate his power, and no changes or improvements have been seen over the past year. Ideology again trumped everything as could be seen in the celebration of the ruling Korean Workers Party’s 70th anniversary in October 2015. North Korea remains an opaque state and it is difficult to make sense of most of the news pouring out of the country. This is even truer when it comes to topics like human rights or the situation of the Christian minority. Christianity is not only seen as “opium for the people,” as is normal for all communist states, it is also seen as deeply Western and despicable. Christians try to hide their faith as far as possible to avoid arrest and being sent to labor camps with horrific conditions. Thus, one’s Christian faith usually remains a well-protected secret, and most parents refrain from introducing their children to the Christian faith in order to make sure that nothing slips their tongue when they are asked.”
Though the Committee did not specify that Christians are among those in the detainment camp, manybrothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea are imprisoned in kwan-li-so facilities like this one. Please pray for the people held here. God knows those who are His children.
Our Heavenly Father, who upholds the cause of the oppressed and sets the prisoners free, we pray for our fellow Christians in North Korea, imprisoned for their faith in Christ. Sustain them, Lord. Be their strength and joy in this earthly suffering. Encourage them with Your Word and Presence when their faith wanes, when loneliness sets in and when intense suffering is inflicted on them. Give them opportunity to share their faith boldly but wisely with other prisoners. May Christ be evident in their lives, not only to the prisoners, but also to the guards, and may You use their stalwart faith to draw many to Yourself. Turn their eyes from this earthly suffering to the glory set before them. In the name of Jesus, who has set us free from bondage to life, that we might be called His brothers. Amen.
PAKISTAN A Pakistani family converted to Christianity is hounded, victim of death threats – Asia News
A Pakistani family converted to Christianity is hounded, victim of death threats
by Stephen John
Since 2006, the couple has had two children and constant persecution from certain Muslims because the wife converted to her husband’s religion. Attempts to file a case against their tormentors have fallen on deaf police ears. After years on the run, the family is now in hiding. Human rights activists want the government to defend religious freedom, human rights and the country’s constitution.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – A Christian family has been on the run for almost ten years, finding temporary refuge but no safe haven. Jobless and desperate, they are unable to meet their own needs, as they continue to be threatened, hounded, and attacked because they want to live a Christian life and raise their children in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
After hearing their tragic story, AsiaNews decided to present it. Names, places and other details have been changed to protect the family, but their fate is part and parcel of the fight for religious freedom and the rights of Christians in Pakistan.
In May 2006, Amina, a 29 year-old Muslim woman, married 34-year-old Salamat Masih, a Christian. Her family was against it from the start, especially since they had already arranged her marriage to a trusted Muslim man.
However, Amina would not give in to her family’s pressures, and decided to marry the man she loved. The two also wanted a Christian wedding, but no pastor was willing to do it for fear of retaliation by her relatives.
To stop the marriage, Amina’s family filed a case against the would-be husband for rape and kidnapping. Thus, fearing arrest, Amina and Salamat decided to elope in accordance with Islamic law. This meant that Salamat, a Christian, had to convert to Islam since Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims.
Two Muslim men, Naveed Asim and Kareem Ahmad, acted as witnesses to the Islamic wedding. Proud of converting a Christian to Islam and of the greater standing they achieved among Muslims, they also took on the responsibility of monitoring the newlywed’s life.
With this purpose in mind, the two “guardians” forced the couple to move to Sadar, a town near Karachi, and live according to Islamic traditions, including fasting during Ramadan.
Still, Amina and Salamat did not want to live as Muslims and sought help from a local Church to arrange a Christian marriage and live among local Christians.
Eventually, the pastor of a local church agreed to register their marriage as Christian on 26 October 2006. The couple also found refuge among local Christians because of threats of reprisal from Muslims.
In the following years, the couple had two daughters. Yet, their secret did not last and threats started again, especially from the two men who had taken on the task of acting as their “guardians”.
For Amina, constant threats and pressures proved too much and she miscarried a third child. This further aggravated the conflict because the father chose to give his son a Christian burial rather than laying him to rest in a Muslim cemetery. The family’s enemies had one more reason to persecute them.
Fearing for their life, the family went from city to city, finding temporary shelter in various homes. Muslims from Amina’s community, especially the two “guardians”, kept tracking them down, proffering fresh threats and exerting more pressure on them.
Two years ago, threats turned into an actual attack. Gunmen shot at Salamat, in the leg, then drove their motorcycle over the injured limb. Only the presence of bystanders forced the attackers to flee, thus preventing them from finishing off their victim.
Because of the family’s difficult economic circumstances, Salamat was never properly treated and his leg has not fully healed. Such an impairment has limited his ability to work, making family life that much harder.
The couple’s relatives are no longer able to help for fear of reprisals and attacks by Muslims. The same goes for co-workers and friends who helped them and gave them refuge. The fear of an attack has proven stronger than the desire to help.
Since March 2015, the family has been hiding in one of the country’s largest cities. Since the family has been tracked down once and attacked before, the location has been kept secret for security reasons.
Attempts to file a case with police for the violence and threats against the family have fallen on deaf years. Law enforcement agencies have refused to deal with it.
Forced into hiding for weeks on end, Amina and Salamat have been unable to work and lead a normal life. Although a local NGO has helped them with their immediate needs, the couple and their children have gone to bed hungry on several occasions.
For Amina’s family, marrying a Christian and converting to Christianity are dishonourable acts, hence the threats. This is the more acceptable since her attackers have walked away, scot-free, ready to strike again.
However, not everyone has stood idly by. Citing the Constitution of Pakistan, the Asian Human Rights Commission has called on Pakistani authorities to respect the principle of equality of citizens, and guarantee freedom of religion. Likewise, it has called for action against the police officers who failed in their duty to protect the family.
Our Letter of Confession
“A witness saw a young woman who folded her hands in a praying fashion when the SSD [State Security Department] interrogated her. The SSD suspected therefore that she was a Christian. They took her to another room and beat her until she confessed.”
Now is the time to make our confession to Kim Jong Un. We declare that we will remain loyal to the one true God and continue to stand with our persecuted family members in North Korea.
We know what is happening in North Korea. We commit to telling the world about the crimes of its leader and to do everything in our power to assist our persecuted family there.
We invite you to add your voice in support of North Korean Christians by digitally signing the Letter of Confession. We will deliver these letters to North Korea’s representatives to the United Nations.
|He shouldn’t even be in prison|
|Dear friend, Gao Zhisheng shouldn’t be in prison right now. The Chinese human rights lawyer has been targeted by the government for defending Christians and other religious minorities. They’ve shut down his law firm, revoked his lawyer’s licence – and since 2006 he’s been in and out of prison, suffering illegal detention and torture. All for speaking up for justice. Ask your MP to call for Gao’s release from prison.|
|Gao’s family haven’t seen him since January 2013 – and even then, they were only allowed a half-hour visit. He is due to be released on 22 August 2014, according to some legal experts. The Chinese government has consistently failed to provide information on his whereabouts and even his health, so it’s vital that we make sure they know we’re expecting his release. And last year, Gao’s wife Geng He asked the international community to keep pressing the Chinese authorities on his case “as the best way to protect him”. Gao and his family have suffered tremendous injustice for far too long. Please urge your MP to take action for Gao today. Thank you so much. Yours in hope for freedom Emma CSW Campaigns Team P.S. The Chinese government is desperate to keep Gao quiet – but he’s desperate to speak up against injustice. Email your MP today to call for Gao’s release. Thank you!|
|Urgent: Your prayers this week will change lives|
|Dear friend, Thank you so much for your campaigning and prayers for some desperate situations in the last few weeks. This week has been filled with highs and lows – the news of Meriam’s release, followed swiftly the family’s detention at Khartoum airport 24 hours later. Meriam isn’t the only person who needs God’s intervention on her behalf and your prayers are vital – will you continue to pray for the following situations with us?|
|SUDAN: Meriam Ibrahim and family still detained Meriam Ibrahim, whose death sentence for apostasy was quashed on Monday, is still being held after being detained along with her family at the airport on Tuesday. Meriam is being investigated by the police for alleged irregularities with her travel documents. The police have refused to release the family on bail whilst they carry out their investigation.
>> More prayer points available at www.csw.org.uk/prayformeriam
| ERITREA: Your prayers this week could change Eritrea’s future On Thursday the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) will discuss, and hopefully adopt, a strong resolution condemning the continuing, severe and widespread human rights violations committed by Eritrea against its citizens and calling for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violations outlined in reports by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea. This is a bold step and one which needs to be underpinned by prayer if it’s to be successful.
| IRAN: Behnam Irani returned to prison after disappearance As you may know Pastor Behnam Irani, who was jailed on political charges, was assaulted earlier this month and was removed to an unknown location. He has now been returned to Ghezal Hesar, but his physical condition and whereabouts during the time of his disappearance are unclear.
| CUBA: Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife detained by authorities You may remember Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife Yoaxis from previous emails and our Response newsletter – they are religious freedom activists who have regularly been targeted by the Cuban government. They were detained by police last weekend, and although they were released two hours later, police have confiscated their computer. We’re concerned that state security officials could plant information on their computer in order to justify criminal charges.
|To get regular prayer updates from CSW to keep praying for these and other situations, please sign up here. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 Blessings, Emma CSW Communications Team P.s. Please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to pray too. Thanks again for your support!|
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
|Those terrifying words were spoken to Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian. She’s just been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ – leaving Islam. Please take action for Meriam now. Meriam was arrested on 17 February, and sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death for apostasy, after Sudanese authorities became aware of her marriage to a Christian man. She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Martin Wani. Since she was arrested she’s been allowed no visitors, and has been denied vital medical treatment. Although she testified that she is a life-long Christian, the court ruled she had abandoned Islam, and was originally Muslim because her father, who left her Christian mother when Meriam was six, was a Muslim. Since Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims, her marriage is invalid under Islamic law – so she was convicted of adultery as well as apostasy.|
|Meriam is heavily pregnant, and has a toddler to look after too in prison. We can’t allow this terrible injustice to continue. Email the Sudanese embassy in the UK to protest Meriam’s sentence. Thank you for taking action. Blessings Emma CSW Campaigns Team|
|Working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. CSW. PO Box 99, New Malden, KT3 3YF|
Inside North Korea’s brutal prison camps
Prisoner Shin was beaten, starved, tortured and treated as a slave. Miraculously he escaped and survived to tell the tale
The North Korean military has put on a lavish display to mark the anniversary of the armistice which ended the Korean War. But despite the truce nearly 60 years ago, North Korea is still seen as a volatile nation. It has been condemned by other countries for its nuclear testing programme and its record of human rights violations – in particular its use of brutal prison camps. One man who knows all about the country’s abuse of human rights is Shin Dong-hyuk – the only man born inside a North Korean prison camp who managed to escape. His story has been documented in a book ‘Escape from Camp 14’ by journalist Blaine Harden. Here the author offers Yahoo! News a startling picture of what life is like in notoriously secretive North Korea.
A naked Shin was hung from the ceiling by his arms and legs, his body in the shape of a U. Just a boy at the time, he was lowered by a winch towards a tub of burning charcoal. Crazed with pain, he smelled his burning flesh. A guard then pierced his stomach with a hook on a pole and held him over the fire until he lost consciousness. This was just one instance of the brutal torture Shin experienced and witnessed at Camp 14 – one of North Korea’s inhumane prison camps.
American Journalist Blaine Harden spent years trying to gain the trust of Shin, now in his late 20s, so that his story could be told. He tells us: "The purpose of writing the book is to grab people by the throat and explain how North Korea operates and Shin’s story does that so well because no one has told it before."
Shin is the only person to be born in a prison camp who has escaped and lived to tell the tale.
His only crime? Being related to his father’s brothers who escaped to South Korea after the Korean War in the 1950s. There are people like Shin who were born in the camps and never allowed to leave and others, considered defectors, who are either there for ‘rehabilitation’ – or more likely until they die.
Harden says: "They can arrest anybody they want, for any reason, without any charge and take them away in the middle of the night and never tell them why they were taken."
The camps have been around since the late 1950s and Harden says they have always operated in almost exactly the same way. He says: "There is an incredible culture of brutality. Working people to death, usually by the time they’re in their mid-40s, they have executions, guards who are at liberty to murder, rape and torment the prisoners without any sanctions against them. They are taught to regard the prisoners as pigs and dogs. They can rape them, impregnate them, kill the babies and kill the women. They can also beat children to death if they’re in the mood."
A female North Korean soldier looks out from behind a barbed-wire fence around a camp (PA)
A total of 60 former camp inmates have told their stories to human rights investigators. Harden explains how those interviews, carried out separately across a decade, tell a remarkably consistent story about how the camps operate, what life is like, who lives, who dies, why and how.
Shin was starved, beaten and raised as a slave in a culture of disclosure and reward. He reported his mother and brother for plotting an escape which ultimately led to their execution.
Harden says: "How Shin was raised in the camp is an example of the sort of mentality that is spread across the country. There are about 170,000 secret police in North Korea. They are in virtually every apartment block, every village. They are there to incentivise people to snitch on each other. And children, relatives and friends do snitch on each other."
An estimated 200,000 people are detained in prison camps and there are fears the camps are growing. Satellite images show the existence of the camps, yet North Korea still denies their presence to the rest of the world.
But people in North Korea know the camps exist. "They know that every once in a while people disappear into the night – an entire family," says Harden. "And they know if they speak out there’s a chance that they could join them."
North Korean female soldiers on parade in Pyongyang (Reuters)
People may be scared into silence but they are armed with more knowledge. Despite its extravagant ceremonial parades and military displays, North Korea is poor. Times are hard and although the Kim family rulers have tried to isolate the notoriously secretive country from the rest of the globe, censoring media, preventing access to the internet and effectively starving the populace of information, knowledge about the wealth and freedoms in the outside world has seeped through into this totalitarian state.
More electronic products such as DVDs, radios and USB sticks are crossing the border illegally, primarily from China, and the number of radios that can tune into outside radio stations has increased. A recent survey of all defectors who have fled the country revealed that while in North Korea, 60 per cent were able to listen to outside radio stations on a daily basis.
Harden says: "They know more about the outside world but their ability to act on it and interact with each other based on the new information they have is not changing very much at all. There’s no civil society inside North Korea. People do not get together. They cannot meet in more than groups of three or four anywhere and people cannot travel easily within the country so they are socially and politically atomised."
Harden believes that life may have actually got worse under new leader Kim Jong-Un, who was declared the ‘Supreme Leader’ of North Korea at the end of 2011 following the death of his father.
He says: "It seems to have gone backwards in some ways. The border has been effectively closed down, people are not crossing or fleeing the country. The number of defectors arriving in South Korea has been cut significantly in the past year. Kim Jong-Un recognised that having this porous border was allowing people to go off and tell stories to human rights people and he wanted to end it. The Government has lost none of its appetite for cruelty."
Propaganda is also used incessantly and it is extremely powerful. Pictures of the ‘great’ and ‘dear’ leader Kim Jong-Un are everywhere and the state owned Central News Agency is the sole news provider in the country, ensuring the publication and broadcast of specific messages, including verbal attacks on America and South Korea.
Harden says: "They teach people that the US in particular, South Korea and Japan are plotting to murder them, to bomb them to kill their children – and there are some good reasons for North Koreans to believe it. During the Korean War the Americans bombed North Korea. They destroyed virtually every city, town and village, including about 85 per cent of the structures.”
Harden states that every single person in the country had a relative killed in the war. "That is sold and resold in the state propaganda about why you need the Kim family to protect you."
[North Korean defector’s ‘impossible’ dream of closing prison camps]
Shin was not subject to the propaganda. There was no use for propaganda for the prisoners born in the camps. They have no choices. They are put to work, then they die. For the rest of the population though it’s a highly effective method of control.
Despite all this, Harden is optimistic change will occur in North Korea. The UN has authorised a human rights investigation into the camps, amid denials from the country’s UN ambassador Sin Son-ho, who recently asserted ‘we don’t have any human rights problems’.
Harden says: "They are surrounded by a booming China and an absolutely amazing South Korea which is one of the fastest growing economies, one of the most wired places in the world and Japan. They’re getting poorer and their options are fewer. As more information seeps into the country, the contradictions become sharper, so change has to happen."
Shin is one of many who dares to hope he is right.
Nermin Oomer – Fri, Aug 2, 2013
It is the year 2013 and this is happening in our world today…
shame on us…..shame on the world for letting this happen……..jboy2244
North Korea’s Prison Camps Are Absolutely Horrifying
North Korean Prison Camp 22
As international leaders fear what Pyongyang may do beyond its borders, perhaps the biggest issue is what happens within.
North Korea operates a growing network of prison camps containing up to 200,000 prisoners in conditions likened by survivors to Nazi concentration camps. This atrocity gains little international attention, though the United Nations Human Rights Council is considering a formal inquiry for possible crimes against humanity.
Information about the camps is limited to reports from the few successful escapees, notably Shin Dong-hyuk, who told 60 Minutes about spending 23 years behind the wire.
Although there are no pictures from inside the camps, satellite images plus a set of illustrations supposedly done by a defector (the source of these images is unconfirmed) give a hint of the terror inside.
Warning: Some images are disturbing.
There are over 24 million people living inside North Korea.
But there are between 150,000 and 200,000 who have ‘disappeared’. They live in brutal concentration camps throughout the country.
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
Former prisoners say conditions are so bad that 20 to 25 percent of the prison population dies every year.
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
The North uses guilt by association to lock up entire families just for knowing someone convicted of "wrong thought."
Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside one camp, and lived there 23 years before he was able to escape.
Successful escapes have been few. That’s because anyone who tries, plans, or has knowledge of an escape is executed, and all prisoners are required to watch.
Starvation is common, as prisoners are usually only fed gruel made of cornmeal and cabbage. "We were always hungry, and the guards always told us ‘through hunger you will repent,’" Shin said. They often eat rats and insects just to stay alive.
Without protein and calcium in their diet, prisoners develop hunchbacks from bending over in the fields or lose toes and fingers due to frostbite.
The guards are relentless in their brutality.
They often terrorize and torture their captives, sometimes just for fun, according to escapees.
The tip of one of Shin’s fingers was chopped off as punishment for accidentally breaking a machine while working in a factory.
When he was just 13 years old, Shin was sent to an underground torture center when his mother and older brother were accused of attempting an escape. "They hung me by the ankles and they tortured me with fire."
All of the methods of torture are appalling — but some are more disturbing than others.
And women aren’t afforded any leniency.
Pregnancy is strictly forbidden, except in the case of a ‘marriage’ arranged by the prison guards.
Prisoners are categorized as their conditions deteriorate …
… While guards and party officials are treated well for their dedication to the regime.
But if prisoners can make it past guards and electrified fences …
They still need to get across the border to China, and if discovered, they face the possibility of being sent back.
While North Korea denies they even exist, satellite imagery shows camps scattered around the country, and they are growing.
Source: Amnesty International
And for North Koreans outside the camps, the fear of the gulag ensures their loyalty to the regime …
AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin
… And Kim Jong-un’s complete power over his own people.
North Korean leaders
Be Yourself why does everyone want to be perfect…love yourself the way you are..jboy2244
Victoria’s Secret model loses an arm to airbrushing
Another Victoria’s Secret model has become a victim of overzealous airbrushing
When it comes to Photoshop blunders Victoria’s Secret are well known for making errors.
This time, a photo on the Victoria’s Secret website that promoted a lace flyaway babydoll has stirred up an airbrushing debate online.
Has this Victoria’s Secret model lost an arm? © Victoria’s Secret
In the image it appears a model’s left arm has been totally cut out, so all she is left with is her hand that floats midair beside her body. But if you take a closer look from another angle, her arm is there just hidden in the shadow.
We can’t decide whether this is another VS Photoshop fail or just terrible case of airbrushing?
Now the image has been removed from the website and replaced with a suitable photo of a model showing two arms.
This isn’t the first model to fall victim to amputation by the Victoria’s Secret art team. Back in 2011 Marissa Miller lost an arm in an ad for the lingerie brand’s spring/summer collection and unlike this recent error it wasn’t hard to spot – it was obvious.