This week with the demise of the heinous Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, millions of people the world over breathed a sigh of relief along with a fair amount of flinching from those who regret any loss of life, even for an egregious tyrant such as Gadhafi. Regrettably, there are still places, countries, on this planet where evil and its concomitant disregard for human life still chug along at a steady pace – business as usual.
Incarceration of political prisoners on a mass scale was perfected by the Soviet Union under Stalin. They were called gulags. Stalin deployed a vast array of these forced labour camps in Siberia where inmates were forced to work at back-breaking tasks with insufficient food to survive. Torture and executions occurred on a daily basis. The dismantling of the Soviet Union also brought about the demise of forced labour camps, at least for political prisoners. But gulags remain and thrive in the last true communist totalitarian state that borders both China and Russia, North Korea.
North Korean gulags are modelled after the Soviet version and every bit as brutal and merciless today as Stalin was in the 1930′s. And like the original Soviet counterpart, North Korean gulags force all inmates to work long hours in primitive forestry, agriculture and mining operations, constantly on the threshold of starvation. Mortality rates are extremely high from malnutrition, beatings and exposure to the elements. Any theft or escape attempts result in public execution. Today, there are six political prisoner gulags in N.Korea containing almost 200,000 inmates.
There are very few survivors from the North Korean gulag system, but today’s internet and worldwide web make it possible to see and hear what those few have to tell.