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3/10/04 - NORTH KOREA HUMAN RIGHTS - 2004-03-11

The Communist dictatorship in North Korea remains one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights. Lorne Craner is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He says that in North Korea, basic freedoms are unheard of:

“And clearly, the situation there for human rights is very, very poor. You have widespread prison camps, one-hundred-fifty thousand to two-hundred thousand people in prison, a lot of torture, etc.”

Because of the closed nature of North Korean society, information is hard to come by. But there are credible reports that babies born to women in North Korean prisons have been killed at birth, and pregnant female prisoners have been forced to undergo abortions.

North Korea’s people do not have the right to change their government. And that government views individual rights as illegitimate, alien, and subversive to the goals of the state and the Communist Party.

North Korea’s penal code stipulates the death penalty for a wide variety of what it calls “crimes against the revolution.” These include defection, attempted defection, slander of the policies of the Communist Party or state, listening to foreign broadcasts, and writing or possessing material considered “reactionary” by the government.

North Korea’s economy is one of the most centralized and tightly controlled in the world. The country is also one of the world’s most militarized, with more than one-quarter of the gross domestic product devoted to military purposes, including the development of nuclear weapons. As a result of government policies, North Korea has chronic food shortages. Even with huge amounts of international aid -- much of it from the U.S. -- hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have reportedly starved to death in the last decade.

North Korea’s massive abuses of human rights make it clear how dangerous the Pyongyang regime is -- to the people of North Korea and others.