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Hell on Earth: Disabled prisoners suffer in N. Korea’s brutal camps

Disabled people in North Korea’s political prison camps are suffering severe human rights violations, enduring horrific working conditions and daily violence, a source inside the country recently told Daily NK.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source told Daily NK last Thursday that “about 8% of the inmates in Susong Political Prison Camp [Camp 25 in Chongjin]” are disabled.

Susong Political Prison Camp had about 36,000 inmates, according to a Daily NK survey last year. According to the source, about 2,800 inmates in the camp may be disabled.

However, the source said that people who are not registered as disabled “are not included in this statistic,” indicating that the actual number of inmates suffering from disabilities is likely to be higher.

“In the case of people with congenital disabilities, they come with their families due to guilt by association because one of their relatives is a political criminal, while those with acquired disabilities become disabled or mentally ill due to work accidents, violence or torture,” the source said.

The source said that prisoners often become disabled as a result of accidents in the poor working conditions in the political prison camps or as a result of beatings by the camp administrators.

North Korea does not create or manage separate facilities for prisoners with physical disabilities in political prison camps. However, the country does segregate prisoners with mental disabilities.

“Inmates with physical disabilities live in the same environment as non-disabled inmates, while those with psychological disabilities are managed in a separate zone,” the source said. “Prisoners with mental disabilities live in an even worse zone. Their treatment never improves, and even asking about their treatment is considered an anti-party act.”

Disabled inmates sometimes beaten to death for infractions

Prisoners with physical disabilities are not exempted from disciplinary work in political prison camps. They must perform the same disciplinary labor tasks as non-disabled prisoners.

A disabled prisoner recently died from beatings and other mistreatment he suffered because he was unable to perform his assigned work duties.

“In political prison camps, disabled inmates are subjected to violence, torture, abuse and humiliation,” the source said. “On June 6, a teenage prisoner with mental disabilities who had been in Camp 14 [in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province] for only a few years died from beatings because he could not do his work properly,” the source said.

“And on June 1, an inmate in his 50s with an acquired visual disability at Camp 18 [in Pukchang, South Pyongan Province] was beaten to death in the dining hall when he complained about the meager food he was given because he could not perform his work in either quantity or quality.”

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. 

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

July 11, 2024 at 01:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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