News / Asia

Report: N. Korean Prison Camp Perimeter Spills into Villages

A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows construction of an entrance gate and other structures that Amnesty International says points to a tightening in the control of movement of the local population adjacent to Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)
A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows construction of an entrance gate and other structures that Amnesty International says points to a tightening in the control of movement of the local population adjacent to Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)
A human rights group says new satellite imagery indicates North Korea is blurring the lines between its prison camps and the surrounding population. 
 
Commercial satellite images obtained by Amnesty International reveal North Korea has apparently expanded the perimeter of a sprawling prison camp, 70 kilometers north of Pyongyang, in South Pyongyan province.
 
Amnesty International released a report Thursday accompanied by the images of the Camp 14 area. It says they demonstrate that, in the past seven years, check points and guard towers have expanded to encompass a 20-kilometer radius around the Choma-Bong valley and its inhabitants.
 
A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows possible guard posts around Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows possible guard posts around Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)
x
A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows possible guard posts around Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)
A satellite image of Ch’oma-Bong valley, North Korea, shows possible guard posts around Camp 14. (Digital Globe 2013)
Roseanne Rife, Amnesty International's East Asia chief in Hong Kong, tells VOA News control of the local population adjacent to the camp has been tightened, making the status of the valley's inhabitants unclear.
 
“There are new housing structures, as well, near the mines which might indicate that they've increased the work force in the mines," she said. "And, the fact that they're enclosed in this perimeter then raises concerns about are they being forced to work in the mines as  additional forced labor. And, what we normally see the forced labor is very slave-like conditions.”
 
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are held in a network of camps in the reclusive and impoverished country. Defectors have described dismal conditions, with frequent executions, torture, rape and slave labor.
 
A session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee is to convene Monday in Geneva. It is to formally receive a special rapporteur report declaring "grave, widespread and systematic" human rights violations in North Korea.
 
A North Korean diplomat dismissed the report before it was made public, calling it an “ill-minded” creation of countries such as the United States, Japan and European Union members.
 
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay is calling for an international probe, saying the issue should not be overshadowed by concern about North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development.
 
Amnesty International's Rife agrees.
 
“While there's no denying that there are serious security issues at stake here, human rights should be placed front and center in all of this. I think (concerning) the idea of sanctions we have to make sure that they don't contribute to the grave human rights violations that are taking place in North Korea,” she said.
 
Rife also expresses concern that humanitarian aid in time of a food crisis could become a bargaining tool in the ongoing political debates about security.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid