Wiesenthal Center: Prosecute North Korean Officials Who Deport Disabled To Gulag

October 24, 2006


“The continued silence South Korea and other nations over such atrocities only emboldens
North Korea to pursue its nuclear blackmail,” says Center official.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on the United Nations to identify and take legal action against  North Korean officials who, according a report released by a senior UN human rights official,  send disabled North Korean citizens to special camps where they are subjected to  “subhuman conditions.” Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s representative for human rights in North Korea, cites eyewitness defectors who said that mentally disabled citizens are sent to what are known as “Ward 49” camps where they are incarcerated according to their handicap. The report also cites numerous other human rights violations, including torture and forced starvation against other North Koreans.

“How much longer will the world stand idly by as the Pyongyang regime continues to debase, abuse, and murder its own citizens?” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Cente, a leading Jewish human rights NGO. “This release of the shocking report by the UN Special Rapporteur about ‘special treatment’ of the handicapped is reminiscent of Nazi policies and cries out for international action. The continued silence of South Korea and other nations over such atrocities only emboldens North Korea to pursue its nuclear blackmail.”

Rabbi Cooper urged the incoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who was the former South Korean Foreign Minister, to immediately take action when he assumes his post in January. “It is time to establish a special tribunal to deal with the North Koreans who are responsible for a Gulag where political and other prisoners are subject to the harshest brutalities, including horrific gassing experiments linked to WMD development,” he said.

 “These criminals must be identified and held personally culpable for their involvement in crimes against humanity,” Cooper concluded.

In 2004, Rabbi Cooper, traveled to Seoul, South Korea on a fact-finding mission  where he interviewed eyewitnesses and defectors who provided first-person testimony describing the gassing of political prisoners, medical experiments, and other human-rights abuses under the Kim regime in North Korea.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.