06/06/2008, 00.00
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900,000 prisoners will be killed in gulags of Pyongyang if Koreas are reunified

This is the charge of a former North Korean prison guard, now a refugee in the south, who speaks of special plans to eliminate work camp detainees in the case of reunification between the two Koreas.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - In case of reunification between the two Koreas, about 900,000 North Koreans will be killed immediately and in silence.  They are prisoners of the North Korean gulags, a slave army forced by the regime to live only in order to produce, often imprisoned without any accusation and deprived of any human rights.  This is the charge of Ahn Myong Chol, a former North Korean prison guard who fled his country after working in prison camp number 22, and currently a refugee in South Korea.

During a meeting held a few days ago at a South Korean university, the dissident charged: "The world must become more aware of the situation in North Korea, where the regime survives through the terror inflicted on its citizens, and sends millions of people to the labour camps without any justification". According to Ahn, the gulag population is at grave risk: "By my own experience, I know how little the government cares about the fate of those who live in the labour camps. In case of the reunification of the two Koreas, emergency plans are ready to kill all of the prisoners, who otherwise might later become witnesses against the socialist leaders and against the prison guards".

The dissident worked in the gulags from 1987 to 1994. After the arrest of his father and the execution of his entire family - "guilty" of criticising a government decision - he decided to flee. He says of the camps: "They are the worst place in the world and, at the same time, the key to the regime's survival.  It uses the gulags as a means for controlling the population through terror, and also as a source of manual labour.  For example, camp 22 produces an enormous quantity of coal at almost no cost".

Entire families live inside the camps, since the political thought of Kim Il-sung - the first North Korean dictator, and the father of "dear leader" Kim Jong-il - imposes incarceration on traitors "until the third generation".  For this reason, Ahn confirms, "the children and nephews of those found guilty are sent to the camps, to turn them against their own families, which are pointed out as the real source of their suffering ".

In conclusion, the former prison guard denounces: "After facing the nuclear problem, the international community will not seek to help North Korean citizens, who suffer from the continual violation of their human rights.  And yet this is the Achilles heel of the regime".

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