UN human rights investigators described torture, starvation, and executions in North Korean prison camps as part of UN Human Rights Council’s first report on violations in the country.
Michael Kirby, head of the UN inquiry, told Reuters that the report was compiled from testimony given by former inmates and North Korean exiles at hearings in Seoul and Tokyo.
The stories were chilling. Megumi Yokota was just 13 when she was abducted by North Koreans on her way home from school in Japan in 1977. She was one of 13 Japanese citizens abducted by Kim-Jung-Il in order to help train North Korean spies, and she later died in North Korean custody, her parents testified. Other former inmates reported being arrested and tortured for infractions like watching Western DVDs and soap operas. One woman testified that she watched as a fellow inmate was forced to drown her own baby in a bucket of water.
North Korean diplomats have declared the report a “political plot.” China, Belarus, and Syria defended North Korea in the 90 minute debate in front of the UN Human Rights Council, denying the allegations as “politicized accusations.”
Japan, South Korea, and Western powers pressured the UN to investigate the long-rumored atrocities in order to prepare a case for criminal prosecution.