North Korea’s tragic genocide must be recognized, stopped

Recently released images from Reuters Alertnet corroborate the testimonies of tens of thousands of North Korean refugees and the United Nations: Innumerable people are dying of starvation in North Korea at this moment.

So, what must be done? In order to faithfully answer this question, it is necessary first to understand the genocidal nature of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea system.

Blaming poverty or natural disasters for the DPRK’s humanitarian catastrophe is a dangerous mistake. Former Special Reporter on Human Rights in North Korea Vitit Muntarbhorn stated unequivocally in his sixth and final report to the General Assembly that North Korea — which has the largest per capita army and the highest military expenditures, according to gross domestic product in the world — was by no means
poor.

He made clear that the country has the means at its disposal to feed its people and that the real issue is not lack of resources, but the military-first policy and misappropriation of funds by the North Korean authorities.

There is now overwhelming, verifiable evidence of North Korea’s systematic diversion of billions in humanitarian aid during the mid-1990s, when up to 3.5 million North Koreans died of starvation.

This experience is one of many that have made the international community progressively less generous in its dealings with the regime. But in the 1990s, North Korea was the recipient of more aid than any other nation on earth.

Among several important reports chronicling North Korea’s human rights crimes issued over the past two decades, the law firm DLA Piper published “Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea” in 2006. The report found that North Korea’s discriminatory food policy resulted in famine and constituted crimes against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The most explicit example of North Korea’s methodical use of food deprivation as a way to repress and control is the North Korean prison camp system, where perceived dissenters and their entire families, including children, have been systematically starved for more than six decades.

But “deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction” is not the only act of genocide carried out by the regime in these camps.

The number of satellite photographs released by Amnesty International and Google Earth this year have grown dramatically over the last decade. In reality, every method that constitutes genocide as outlined in Article 2 of the U.N. Genocide Convention is being utilized by the North Korean security apparatus.

This genocide is intended to exterminate hundreds of thousands of innocent North Koreans, one-third of whom are children. The methods include but are not limited to: public executions, systematic torture, state-induced mass starvation, forced abortions, infanticide and the forcible transfer and imprisonment of children.

In order to save the victims of this regime, the international community must fully recognize the situation in North Korea for what it is: one of the most devastating genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Human-rights activist Robert Park travelled to North Korea in December 2009.

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