UN Details 'Unspeakable Atrocities' in North Korea

Inquiry chief urges world to take action against human rights abuses

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 18, 2013 10:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – With the world's attention currently focused on human rights abuses in Syria, the results of a UN inquiry is set to pull North Korea back into the spotlight, via a new report detailing the country's "systematic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights." The report is based on testimony from public hearings last month, reports CNN, and features horrific tales from inside the Hermit Kingdom's prison camps: one inmate was forced to watch the public execution of his mother and brother; one was witnessed being forced to drown her own baby in a bucket; another had to burn the corpses of dead prisoners and scatter their remains as crop fertilizer.

"It is a very horrifying story, the like of which I don't think I've seen or read of since the Khmer Rouge and the Nazi atrocities during the second world war," says commission chief Michael Kirby, per the BBC. Kirby says the reported atrocities "demand" action from the international community, though the New York Times notes that's easier said than done. Getting any case into the International Criminal Court would require the approval of the UN Security Council—of which North Korea ally China is a member. China has criticized the inquiry, saying, "Politicized accusations and pressures are not helpful to improving human rights in any country." Also not a fan? North Korea, which dismissed the evidence as "fabricated and invented" by hostile forces.

Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea.
Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)
In this Aug. 21, 2013, photo, Michael Donald Kirby, chair of the UN commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, listens to Ahn Myung-chul, who worked at political prisoner camps in the 1990s.
In this Aug. 21, 2013, photo, Michael Donald Kirby, chair of the UN commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, listens to Ahn Myung-chul, who worked at political prisoner camps in the 1990s.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
In this Aug. 21, 2013, photo, Ahn Myung-chul, who worked as a guard and driver at several political prisoner camps in the 1990s, answers questions.
In this Aug. 21, 2013, photo, Ahn Myung-chul, who worked as a guard and driver at several political prisoner camps in the 1990s, answers questions.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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