This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

State Terrorism in North Korea

"His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness."
"He showed no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings. He had not spoken ... or engaged in any purposeful movements or behaviours."
"...This study showed extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain."
Dr. Daniel Kanter, neurologist, University of Cincinnati Medical Center

"Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea..."
"The use of torture is an established feature of the interrogation process in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Starvation and other inhumane conditions of detention are deliberately imposed on suspects. Persons who are found to have engaged in major political crimes are 'disappeared', without trial or judicial order, to political prison camps [kwanliso] ... Their families are not even informed of their fate if they die."
"The inmate population has been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide. The commission estimates that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over the past five decades. The unspeakable atrocities that are being committed against inmates of the kwanliso political prison camps resemble the horrors of camps that totalitarian states established during the twentieth century."
United Nations commission report, 2014
The launch was condemned by Japan
The May launch followed two successful tests of medium- to long-range missiles in as many weeks by Pyongyang Credit: Korean Central News Agency

The family of American university student Otto Warmbier was well aware that their son was in a North Korean prison. What they did not know was that their 22-year-old son, who had briefly visited North Korea along with a group of other 'tourists' through an arranged tour group and was detained as they all were in the process of returning home -- had been in a deep, unresponsive coma for the year he was held incommunicado, accused of being a spy.

Otto Warmbier's parents were briefly reunited with their son when the U.S. administration somehow managed to convince North Korean authorities to release the  young man, to allow him to return home on compassionate grounds. That reunion was brief because the young man, despite the best medical care available in the United States, was on a trajectory to death that was unstoppable. Mere days after returning home his life ebbed away, and his parents were left to arrange for his funeral.

While travelling in China in 2015 he had decided with the curiosity of the young to have a different kind of adventure, to sign on to a four-day tour to North Korea to celebrate the New Year of 2016. As the tour group prepared to depart from Pyongyang International Airport on January 2nd, one of their number, Otto Warmbier, alone among the group was detained. He appeared again in public filmed on North Korean television two months afterward, to 'confess' to having attempted to take a propaganda poster home with him.

He was sentenced, for that dread offence, to 15 years of hard labour at one of North Korea's notoriously brutal political labour camps. Clearly, he was interrogated. And obviously during his interrogation he was subjected to torture; at the very least the kind of manhandling that resulted in bringing him perilously close to death. The after-effect of that interrogation and brutalization was a young man in a state of suspended animation for a full year. In which state he remained to the end.

In totalitarian, brutal governments control of the population is absolute. Citizens have no recourse to justice, to the law, to state protection. Anyone unfortunate enough as a foreign visitor or resident in the country can be assured that the treatment meted out to them if they arouse suspicion regarding their motivation to peruse an embattled population out of curiosity, and come away with a memento will be similar to that of a resident-citizen. Once in the clutches of the military and the prison guards there is no exit.

This reality represents one of the reasons why the International Criminal Court exists; to bring to justice those leaders of nations whose administration of their country's affairs is beyond doubt brutal, violent and unjust. Recently there was a gathering at the United Nations to activate the international crime of aggression as a prosecutable crime. Like the earlier "responsibility to protect" United Nations internationally recognized law approved by all, but allowed to languish without a response when a country like Syria saw its president horrifically abusing his population, this law too will make everyone feel good, but produce no results.

The International Criminal Court, after all, sat in judgement of Sudan's president, declaring him a war criminal for his planned and executed atrocities against black Sudanese Darfurians. Yet Omar al-Bashir remains in his post as Sudan's leader, travels with impunity to Arab League meetings, where he is untouchable; there are none who will arrest  him and deliver him to the ICC. In the case of North Korea, China sees its current leadership as a nuisance and worrisome, but preferable as a bulwark against Western interests moving snugly beyond South Korea.

As for reunification, South Korea itself is fairly well at odds with itself; on the one hand valuing the prospect of reunification, on the other shying away from its wealthy 50 million population having to absorb an impoverished 25 million North Koreans. Germany took on a heavy burden when the Berlin Wall fell, and reunification between East and West took place; the current and long-serving Chancellor of Germany is a product of Sovietized East Germany.

The regime of Kim Jong-un has no credible opponents for whom the possibility of mounting a rebellion might become reality. The state apparatus of a maliciously powerful military might aligned against the plight of the oppressed ensures that no insurrection could possibly take place without the insurgents being mercilessly slaughtered, leaving the Republic with fewer enemies-of-the-state to incarcerate, torture and kill.

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