The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released a 400-page report Monday detailing just how bad things are there; here’s the laundry list:
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”
Which pretty much says it all, though, as Julie Makinen reported for The Times, the report further noted: “the ‘gravity, scale and nature of the violations’ in the totalitarian state over several decades do not have ‘any parallel in the contemporary world.’ “
Forget the hangman’s noose, the firing squad or lethal injection: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un executed his uncle and a handful of the man’s aides by feeding them to a horde of 120 starving dogs, according to a shocking account.
Jang Song Thaek, the former No. 2 official in the secretive regime, was stripped naked and tossed into a cage along with his five closest aides.
“Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs,” according to the Straits Times of Singapore. The daily relied on a description of the execution in a Hong Kong newspaper that serves as the official mouthpiece of China’s government.
OK, so this report comes via a Chinese government newspaper, so we should remain skeptical. Still:
“The entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr. Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials,” the Straits Times said
I can only assume he did so while stroking a white cat and laughing maniacally.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle brought a swift and violent end to a man long considered the country’s second-most powerful. But while Jang Song Thaek is now gone, the fallout from his bloody purge is not over.
In a stunning reversal of the popular image of Jang as a mentor and father figure guiding young Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, North Korea’s state-run media on Friday announced he had been executed and portrayed him as a morally corrupt traitor who saw the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 as an opportunity to make his own power play.
Experts who study the authoritarian country, which closely guards its internal workings from both outsiders and citizens, were divided on whether the sudden turn of events reflected turmoil within the highest levels of power or signaled that Kim Jong Un was consolidating his power in a decisive show of strength. Either way, the purge is an unsettling development for a world that is already wary of Kim’s unpredictability amid North Korea’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
The purge also could spread and bring down more people, Cha said. “When you take out Jang, you’re not taking out just one person — you’re taking out scores if not hundreds of other people in the system. It’s got to have some ripple effect.”
The following are the words of Michelle Bachmann, whom Mark Levin (among others) refers to as a “true conservative”).
FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WANTS THE LAST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT SHOULD HAVE A NUCLEAR BOMB TO GET ONE, Bachmann said. CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS, TELL THEM ‘I WANT YOU TO STOP PRESIDENT OBAMA FROM GIVING THE ABILITY
TO HAVE A NUCLEAR BOMB TO IRAN AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE IT IS TREASONOUS AND I THINK THAT’S WHY YOU HEAR MORE AND MORE PEOPLE CALLING FOR THE IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, she continued.
Bachmann also seemed to suggest that North Korea developed nuclear capabilities under Obama even though its first nuclear test was in 2006: WHY DO THEY WANT TO ALLOW IRAN TO OBTAIN A NUCLEAR WEAPON JUST LIKE THEY DID WITH NORTH KOREA? THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND WENDY SHERMAN IN PARTICULAR WILL HAVE TO ANSWER THAT I CAN’T I DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS OF THEIR HEART
The NSA runs a massive, full-time hacking operation targeting foreign systems, the latest leaks from Edward Snowden show. But unlike conventional cybercriminals, the agency is less interested in hacking PCs and Macs. Instead, America’s spooks have their eyes on the internet routers and switches that form the basic infrastructure of the net, and are largely overlooked as security vulnerabilities.
Under a $652-million program codenamed “Genie,” U.S. intel agencies have hacked into foreign computers and networks to monitor communications crossing them and to establish control over them, according to a secret black budget document leaked to the Washington Post. U.S. intelligence agencies conducted 231 offensive cyber operations in 2011 to penetrate the computer networks of targets abroad.
This included not only installing covert “implants” in foreign desktop computers but also on routers and firewalls — tens of thousands of machines every year in all. According to the Post, the government planned to expand the program to cover millions of additional foreign machines in the future and preferred hacking routers to individual PCs because it gave agencies access to data from entire networks of computers instead of just individual machines.
Most of the hacks targeted the systems and communications of top adversaries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea and included activities around nuclear proliferation.
From a Washington Post editorial this morning, chilling reports of conditions in North Korea:
CAMP NO. 22 covered some 775 square miles, a larger geographic expanse than London, New York or Los Angeles.
In a way, the camp was a city in its own right, albeit a locus of inhumanity rather than a bustling metropolis. Camp 22 was one point in North Korea’s constellation of concentration camps that run on unadulterated cruelty, a secret world where prisoners are fed poison for experimentation, women are forced to kill their own children and entire families are murdered in gas chambers.
As the world sits by, North Korea has imprisoned as many as 200,000 people in these camps. Although human rights violations remain unfortunately common in many nations, these camps form a category of their own in today’s world. North Korea’s gulag is a place where people aren’t people but rather objects for exploitation and elimination.
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released a report this week detailing the harrowing reality of Camp 22. Satellite imagery suggests the camp recently closed. Good news? Not exactly. According to the report, after a food shortage in 2009-10, Camp 22’s population shrunk to somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 people from around 30,000 in previous years. Thousands of prisoners seem to have evaporated into thin air — perhaps via Camp 22’s crematoria.
Last week also saw the conclusion of public hearings for a U.N. Commission of Inquiry investigation into North Korea’s human rights abuses. The hearings featured testimony from Shin Dong-hyuk, perhaps the best-known escapee of a camp and the subject of a 2012 book by Blaine Harden, The Post’s former East Asia correspondent. Recounting his punishment for dropping a sewing machine, Mr. Shin recalled: “I thought my whole hand was going to be cut off at the wrist, so I felt thankful and grateful that only my finger was cut off.”
Although the U.N. commission has no formal prosecutorial powers, Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who led the inquiry, promised that the report he is overseeing will “not be just another U.N. document.”
It should not be. Other nations have tolerated these camps for far too long. South Korea rarely speaks out about human rights in the northern part of its divided country. The United States has focused (unsuccessfully) on dissuading North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile thousands languish and suffer. Many, as Mr. Shin testified, are bred in the camps like farm animals to be worked and then die with no possibility of ever entering a freer world.
Among the more chilling questions in the history of World War II is how the Allies could know about Auschwitz and other German death camps but take no definitive action, such as bombing the rail lines, to stop them. It is encouraging that the United Nations has stirred itself to pay attention to North Korea’s camps. Still, historians of the future may again wonder how the world could have known so much and done so little.
Unless there’s something I really don’t understand, this seems like the world’s worst situation.
SEOUL — One by one they came, taking seats next to a United Nations flag and stating their names for the record. Some kept calm. Some wept. One, as he spoke, used his left hand to clamp his trembling right hand to the table.
They told stories about North Korea’s brutal network of criminal detention and political prison camps, and their evidence was physical: burns on their backs, scars on their heads, bodies ravaged by torture for acts that amount to crimes only in the North. They described forced abortions, public executions, constant hunger and ghoulish mind games played by prison guards, whose permission was needed even to catch and eat the camps’ many rats and mice.
Guards in a good mood would approve, said one defector, Shin Dong-hyuk.
Guards wanting a laugh would force prisoners to eat the rodents live.
Many of the defectors had spoken about their lives before, but this week, at a university lecture hall in downtown Seoul, their stories had a new purpose — as testimony in a U.N. investigation into North Korean rights abuses. Earlier this year, the U.N. human rights chief called those abuses unparalleled and said international attention was “long overdue” — particularly, she said, because they are continuing unabated under North Korea’s third-generation supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
According to reports from nongovernmental organizations, the North, at these camps, gives prisoners starvation rations and works them to the brink of death, cutting back the rations further when the work is not done well. North Koreans can be imprisoned for criticizing the leadership, watching a foreign-made DVD, leaving dust on the portrait of a leader or attempting to leave the country. Many receive no trial or chance for appeal. The camps, modeled after Soviet gulags, were established by national founder Kim Il Sung as a way to weed out ideological opponents.
‘Almost as good as dead’
Witnesses on Tuesday and Wednesday said that one could be killed in the camps just for trying to stay alive. Public executions took place semi-regularly — maybe twice a year, the witnesses said — probably as a means of keeping other prisoners on edge. One camp survivor, Kim Eun-cheol, said he saw a fellow inmate executed for scavenging a potato from a field. Another was executed for eating herbs.
The commissioners have tried to get into North Korea, with no luck.
The U.N. Human Rights Council, in documents issued to the media, said its officials have asked the North for “unimpeded access” and cooperation with the investigation. But those requests have been ignored.
The North often describes any discussion of its observance of human rights as a major provocation and says rights violations are impossible under its socialist system. It also denies the existence of the gulags.
Four days have passed since Panamanian authorities discovered undeclared military weapons hidden aboard a North Korean ship, and the painstaking process of examining the entire vessel is crawling at a snail’s pace.
The ship has five cargo holds, only one of which has been emptied as of Thursday.
“The technicians on board have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said.
The North Korean crew had resisted the Panamanian authorities and cut the cables to the onboard cranes. Panamanian investigators brought their own cranes, but removing the containers inside the cargo holds has been an “odyssey,” Mulino said.
The ship originated in Cuba, and the Cubans have admitted to owning the military equipment, claiming it was being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned.
But many questions remain. If the weapons were not a secret, why were they hidden under sacks of sugar? Why the did the captain attempt to commit suicide?
A public prosecutor is charging the captain and 35 North Korean crew members with illegal possession of weapons and international arms trafficking, Panamanian government spokesman Eduardo Camacho said.
North Korean officials, meanwhile, asked for Panama to release the cargo ship and let the crew go.
Panama has formally asked the United Nations for guidance on how to handle the case.
“For us, it is important to finish this operation, wait for the United Nations to come, and they will decide” how to proceed, Mulino said. “Panama is completely transparent in this; we have no experience in dealing with this type of problem.”
July 12, 2013: The U.S. Navy has asked missile manufacturers to quickly design and build them a target drone that will simulate sub-sonic Chinese anti-ship missiles. Previously the U.S. Navy had spent a lot of effort developing and building similar drones to simulate super-sonic anti-ship missiles. Apparently someone did the math and realized that the most likely near-term opponents (China, North Korea or Iran) all had a lot of Chinese sub-sonic missiles. China sells a lot of these C-801 and C-802 anti-ship missiles. The C-801 is 5.81 meters (18 feet) long, 360mm in diameter, has a max range of 42 kilometers and weighs 636 kg (1,400 pounds) each. The C-801 is similar to the French Exocet, and is believed to have been based on that missile. An improved C0801 is the C802A which is a 6.8m (21 foot) long, 360mm diameter, 682kg (1,500 pound) missile, with a 165kg (360 pound) warhead. The C802 has a max range of 120 kilometers, and moves along at about 250 meters a second.
These long range anti-shipp missles force the Navy’s Aircraft Carriers to be prepared to strike China / Asian targets from even farther out at sea. In order to do so, the range of the strike aircraft must increase thus, the X-47B and those aircraft like it, to follow.
North Korea has proposed high-level talks with the US days after cancelling a meeting with South Korean officials.
The National Defence Commission said in a statement it wanted “serious discussions” with the US to “secure peace and stability in the region”.
US and North Korean officials meet periodically, but have not engaged in high-level talks since 2009.
Earlier this year Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack on both the US and South Korea.
For years the North has cajoled the US and regional neighbours with a mixture of dire threats and promises of co-operation.
Correspondents say Pyongyang is constantly trying to improve its bargaining position to extract more food aid or fuel.
However, the regime has conducted three nuclear-weapons tests in recent years that have even angered its only ally, China.