North Korea extends prison camps rife with rape and murder

North Korea prison camp

Prisoners forced to dig own graves, while women 'disappear' after being raped, reveals former guard

LAST UPDATED AT 12:26 ON Thu 5 Dec 2013

NORTH KOREA is expanding its largest political prison camps, where women are raped and beaten and prisoners are forced to dig their own graves, a new report has found.

Amnesty International has published a series of satellite images showing how the regime has maintained the prisons' infrastructure and invested in new buildings at Camp 15 in Yodok, around 75 miles from Pyongyang, and Camp 16 in Hwaseong, in the north east of the country.

The latest images (/including the one pictured above/) were taken in May this year and show new housing blocks in Camp 16, suggesting its population has increased.

The camps are thought to house more than 50,000 prisoners, including children, in subhuman conditions, with many imprisoned simply for being related to someone who has spoken out against the regime. The size of Camp 16 - the largest in the country - is 216 square miles, three times the size of Washington, DC, says the Daily Telegraph.

Amnesty interviewed a former security official from the camp, who said he had seen inmates forced to dig their own graves and then killed by hammer blows to their necks by prison authorities. He also said several female inmates disappeared after they had been raped by officials. He concluded that they had been secretly executed.

Former inmates from Camp 15 said they were subject to forced labour for up to 12 hours a day in dangerous conditions with just four hours' sleep. If they failed to meet work quotas, their food rations were cut and after work they attended "self-criticism meetings", in which inmates were forced to beat one another.

Amnesty says it is a "grave concern" that North Korea appears to be investing in maintenance of the prisons rather than dismantling the camps and has called on the regime to close them immediately.

More than 100,000 people are believed to be facing appalling human rights violations in political prison camps across the country, but the regime continues to deny their existence. · 

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