Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kim Jung-il's Crimes Against Humanity

U.N. investigators Monday released a catalogue of massive human rights violations in North Korea that they say amount to crimes against humanity deserving attention by the International Criminal Court. “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the report said.

"The State has used food as a means of control over the population .... The State has also used deliberate starvation as a means of control and punishment in detention facilities. This has resulted in the deaths of many political and ordinary prisoners.”

Sources including human rights groups concur there has been a drop in the political prison camp population over the last few years, but this may be partly due to an "extremely high rate of deaths in custody," due to starvation and neglect, arduous force labour, disease and executions, the U.N. report said. The Korea Institute for National Unification estimates 80,000 to 120,000 people are detained in political prison camps today, based on recent satellite imagery and first-hand testimony, the report said. The activist group Committee on Human Rights in North Korea put the figure at 80,000 to 130,000.

"Military spending - predominantly on hardware and the development of weapons systems and the nuclear programme - has always been prioritised, even during periods of mass starvation. The commission finds that decisions, actions and omissions by the State and its leadership caused the death of at least hundreds of thousands of people and inflicted permanent physical and psychological injuries on those who survived. Hunger and malnutrition continue to be widespread. Deaths from starvation continue to be reported.”

Meantime the North Korean ruling class enjoy all the trappings of their power and privileges.

North Korea "continues allocating a significant amount of the state's resources for the purchase and importation of luxury goods", the report said. Such imports are in violation of Security Council sanctions and have included high-quality cognac and whiskey and equipment for a 1,000 person cinema, it said. There have been attempts to import Mercedes-Benz vehicles, high-end musical recording equipment and dozens of pianos, it said. "Luxury good expenditure by the DPRK rose to $645.8 million in 2012. Reportedly, this was a sharp increase from the average of $300 million a year under Kim Jong-il," it said, citing a British newspaper report in October 2013. The BBC recently carried a report on a North Korean ski-resort reserved for the North Korean elite.

However, the wealth of the North Korean leaders cannot be measured in money. They also enjoy enormous non-monetary privileges. The dynastic family possesses palatial villas in a series of scenic locations, staffed by numerous guards, servants and entertainers. In January we had the spectacle of Dennis Rodman and other former NBA stars playing a basketball game as a ‘birthday present, for the North Korean dictator.

No comments: