11/27/2007, 00.00
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Pyongyang resumes public executions

According to a South Korean based organisation for human rights in the north, last week over 150 thousand people were forced to watch an industrialist being shot to death for “having phoned abroad”. In the stampede on the way out six people were crushed to death.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – After a ban of over seven years, North Korea has resumed public executions.  A factory director was among the first to be condemned because “he phoned abroad”.  The news was reported by “Good Friends”, a South Korean based organisation for human rights in the north.  

According to a report issued yesterday, last week, North Korea executed the head of a factory in South Pyongyang province for making international calls on 13 phones he installed in a factory basement, the group said. He was executed by a firing squad before a crowd of 150,000. Six people were also crushed to death in an apparent stampede as they left after the execution.  

Pyongyang has also carried out four other similar public executions by firing squad against regional officials and heads of factories in recent months. Till now party officials condemned to death were killed inside prisons, out of respect for the role they had previously held. 

The reports authors underline that the number of public executions had declined since 2000 amid international criticism but are now increasing, as the government attempts to remind the people that it holds absolute power.  

North Korea insists it “does not violate human rights”, but it has long been accused of imposing the death penalty for political reasons and holding upwards of 150 thousand in prison camps, and does not allow international observers access to ascertain detainee’s conditions.


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