North Korea sees an increase in the number of prisoners in the country’s political prisoner camp

Satellite image of the 16th POW camp in North Hamgyong, Hwason (Google Earth)

The number of prisoners in North Korea’s infamous political prisoner camp is reported to have skyrocketed recently. According to one source, North Korea has recently been dragged into camp people who criticize the country’s COVID-19 quarantine policy.

North Korean sources told the Daily NK on Monday that the number of prisoners has recently increased in political crime camps in Pyeongsan, Bukchang, Hwasung and Kaechon. He said the camp’s inmate population increased by about 18,400 between October and late March last year.

According to sources, the prisoner population increased by about 8,000 in Kaechon (Camp 17), 4,100 in Bukchang (Camp 18), 2,700 in Hwasung (Camp 16), and 3,600 in Pyeongsan.

According to the Daily NK survey, there were estimates 230,000 people in North Korean political prisoner camp As of July last year. People lined up in the camp from August to November, but the population of prisoners remained almost unchanged due to the surge in the number of deaths of existing prisoners.

However, the inmate population increased significantly from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year. Unlike before, more and more people were trapped for criticizing the COVID-19 quarantine policy when most people who violated quarantine rules were imprisoned.

At the beginning of the pandemic, authorities sent everyone who violated the quarantine rules to a political prisoner camp and were dragged into the camp’s “quarantine violators,” or people, in the middle of the pandemic, sources said. A person who violates the rules of home quarantine or quarantine facility.

But recently, in addition to these two groups, authorities have criticized national policy on COVID-19, those who speak and act in politically ambiguous ways, and those who hinder the implementation of disease management policies. Have been arrested. , The source said.

He said that if people misunderstand and criticize North Korea’s failure to adopt the vaccine, the situation will be compared to other countries and authorities will give examples of all of them by punishing them as spies. rice field. “We believe the government has fewer COVID-19 issues than before, but this allows us to focus on silencing people to prevent rumors from spreading,” he adds. I did.

Meanwhile, North Korea has stepped up its crackdown and punishment on “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior,” which it considers a serious threat to the administration. Therefore, more locals are trapped in political prison camps for this type of action.

In late 2020, North Korea enacted a law to eradicate “reactionary thought and culture” that punishes the import and distribution of goods from the outside world. And in July last year, it enacted the Youth Education Law for young people influenced by “capitalist culture”.

In fact, North Korea has organized a “Unified Command on Non-Socialist and Anti-Socialist Behavior,” the so-called “Unified Command 82,” and has conducted intensive crackdowns nationwide. In particular, in the border areas of North Pyongan, Ryanggang, and North Hamgyong, relentless crackdowns that are close to the “war of extinction” are taking place.

More people are heading to political prison camps due to the recent enactment of new criminal law and the proliferation of bylaws and regulations that accompany existing criminal law, sources said. “There are many political prisoners involved in a full-scale campaign. [against Chinese cellphone users] In four major border cities, campaigns against anti-socialist or non-socialist behavior, and [violators of] COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection) [rules].. “

Sources claimed that those captured as engaged in anti-socialist or non-socialist behavior were accused of political prisoners and were not asked. He added that people who use foreign-made mobile phones to tort with “enemy” and the outside world will be treated as spies for any reason if a serious problem arises after a thorough investigation of testimony and behavior. ..

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Roller.

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