In February 2014, the UN Human Rights Commission released 400+ pages of material documenting what it called “unspeakable atrocities” in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.
In a press release announcing the report, the UN Human Rights Commission said,
“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the Commission — established by the Human Rights Council in March 2013 — says in a report that is unprecedented in scope.
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” the report says, adding that “Crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.”
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the CIA earlier this year released 1,300 documents from 1950-1953 outlining, among other things, extensive planning by the United States to use nuclear weapons against North Korea during the Korean War, as well as threats to do the same.
Based on previously declassified documents, however, historians believe the U.S. came closest to unleashing its atomic arsenal against North Korea in April 1951, on the eve of an expected Chinese offensive.
With Truman’s signoff, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered A-bomb retaliation if large numbers of fresh Chinese troops entered the fight. In the end, the U.S. military repelled the Chinese push and the weapons were never used. But Pentagon planners retained the option.
The planning went so far as to include rehearsal raids on Pyongyang with B-29s that involved dropping dummy nuclear weapons on the city.
The newly released documents are available on the CIA’s website here.
The 6th International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees heard testimony in February about alleged forced abortions and infanticide in North Korean prison camps.
Using the alias Park Sun-ja, a 28-year-old defector from North Korea testified that she witnessed both infanticide and forced abortion at Shinuiju Provincial Detention Camp where she had been held for two months in 2000 after having been caught after having crossed into China.
Sun-ja testified that,
I heard the cries of both mother and child through the curtain (at a hospital). And through the partially open curtain, I witnessed the nurse covering the infant’s face with a wet towel on a table, suffocating it. The baby stopped crying about ten minutes later.
Sun-ja testifed that injections to induce miscarriage among pregnant women at the camp were routine.
She also testified to being abused and witnessing abuse by guards at the camp, including,
Severe beatings through the use of sticks, fists (punching), and feet (kicking) were standard practice. Cells were infested with insects, fleas, lice, and other parasites. It was disgusting.
Sun-ja’s testimony obviously needs to be taken with some bit of skepticism given that it was given pseudonymously, but given the immense secrecy in North Korea and other atrocities committed by the regime that we do know about, what she describe is certainly plausible.
N.K. defector claimed forced abortions. The Korea Herald, February 7, 2005.
In 1994 the Clinton administration reached an agreement with North Korea — we would give them billions of dollars and they would halt development of nuclear weapons. We gave the billions, but what do you know, the North Koreans proceeded fulls team ahead with their nuclear weapons program (in fact, the program apparently didn’t get into full swing until after the Clinton-brokered agreement). And, of course, North Korea has in recent years been aggressively working on long-range missiles that could reach the United States (Clinton eased sanctions against North Korea after it promised to stop testing its long range missile program). I can’t wait to see the spin whereby Clinton says he spent every waking moment worrying about North Korea and had a plan on the table to deal with this before that evil Bush administration scuttled his master plan.