75% of North Koreans persecuted by the regime would not survive violence and deprivation

North Korea is making noise on the international scene with its ballistic and nuclear provocations. More discreetly, the Kim Jong-un regime stifles the voice of the people in a climate of horror, and more particularly crushes those suspected of dissent. Among them, the persecuted believers, there would be predominantly Christians. According to statistics obtained after cross-checking the testimonies of North Koreans who have defected, more than 75% of those subjected to the regime's persecutions do not survive.

The testimonies collected by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (Data Center for Human Rights in North Korea), or NKDB, would identify 65 cases of religious persecution. Almost 000% of the 99 people who have been able to flee the country since 11 confirm the absence of religious freedom and assure that only less than 370% of those who are punished do not die as a result of this violence and deprivation. If these figures should be taken with caution, because they relate to a limited number of witnesses, the testimonies as to the brutality of the regime towards the supposed dissidents go in the direction of all the information so far. provided par the NGOs and the United Nations which obtain them without having the right to access the territory of the country.

Le Juche as a moral basis for persecution

Christians officially displayed in the country are therefore roughly ten times fewer than in Pyongyang before the Korean War.

The actual number of North Korean believers is unknown, and more than 65% of the population are believed to be atheists. Before the war, Pyongyang, the capital since 1948, was nicknamed "The Jerusalem of Asia" because of the high proportion of Christians within it.. Around 30% of the population of nearly 400 inhabitants of the agglomeration at the time of the establishment of the communist regime in 000, and while the North had been under Soviet control for three years, was Christian there, for 1% in the rest of the then united peninsula. There are now nearly 13 declared Christians out of about 000 million inhabitants in the northern part of a nation now split in two, a tenth of whom live in the capital. Christians displayed in the country are therefore about ten times less numerous than those in Pyongyang before the Korean War. For the United Nations, there would rather be between 200 and 000 Christians, far from the 12 Protestants and 000 Catholics of the official figures of the People's Republic of Korea. Followers of religions long established in the country such as Cheondoism, Shamanism and Buddhism are less terrorized by the state. The latter imposed a belief system, the Juche (the subject's thought) according to which "man is the master of everything and decides everything" and the "conception of the world is man-centered and a political philosophy aimed at achieving the sovereignty of the popular masses". It suffices to have given the impression of committing an offense in relation to the Juche to know the gulag system, oneself, one's spouse, children or even one's parents in the name of guilt by association.

Le Juche justifies the cult of the ruler of the country

Le Juche goes beyond the words of its definition, it justifies the cult of the leader of the country, currently Kim Jong-un. This cult is not only attached to its function, but also to its person, hence the dynastic transmission of power. Kim Jong-un runs with an iron fist a regime bequeathed to him by his father, Kim Jong-Il, himself institutional heir to his father, Kim Il-sung, the founder of the regime. The offense to Juche is an offense against the guide of the People's Republic, and she is punishable by death or gulag camps. It is enough to read foreign newspapers, to complain about the horrible living conditions without even criticizing the policy of the regime (famine is said to have killed around a million people between 1994 and 1998, and the country is blackmailing the United States and its neighbors, especially South Korea and Japan, for humanitarian aid as cases of cannibalism are listed), or to practice his religion in a way incompatible with the juche. By right, cults are officially authorized, claim the authorities to international organizations, in reality believers are persecuted, the faithful of less historical religions even more particularly. In contrast, cheondoism or cheondogyo, a syncretic religion that mixes Korean shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism and elements of Christianity, and constitutes a national religion alongside state atheism, is accepted and has a political party associated with that of the regime.

The Constitution sets out religious freedom in its article 68, as long as it is not used against the State, highlights 2015 State Department report on religious freedom (which hardly changes since 2012), before mentioning the fate of those who would attack the interests of the State.

“The government continues to treat harshly those engaged in most religious practices, whether it executes, torture or arrest them. Between 80 and 000 political prisoners, or prisoners for religious reasons, are believed to be held in gulag political prisons in remote areas and in dire conditions. Religious and human rights groups outside the country provide numerous reports that members of underground churches have been arrested, beaten, tortured or killed for their religious beliefs. Non-governmental organizations report that any religious activity conducted outside of the framework of registered worship services, which includes prayer, sung praise and Bible reading, exposes offenders to severe punishment including imprisonment in political camps. "

It is above all in this prison system of the gulag that the Christians and other "dissidents" die who, by their only religious activities, allegedly defy the divine nature of the two first rulers of the country who should always be venerated, respectively the "President. Eternal ”and the“ Dear Leader ”.

The plight of law breakers includes a variety of acts of persecution

In a report from September 22, the British NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide summed up the NKDB report on the repression in North Korea concerning both political persecution and that against believers of various religions. Over the past decade, the number of Christians has reportedly increased sharply as North Koreans fleeing their country for China are exposed to Christianity in the big neighbor, himself hostile to uncontrolled cults, and return converted to their country after being expelled by the Chinese authorities. This led the regime to intensify the persecution in order to limit the rise of Christianity. 1,2% of refugees (128 out of 10) in South Korea attest to having taken part in religious activities between 217 and 1998; 2015% of respondents (4,2 out of 433) say they have seen a Bible. The plight of law breakers includes a whole range of acts of persecution, and the regime organizes the murder, rape, slavery, or even forced prostitution of these people.

 A plurality of reports denouncing the crimes

The United Nations report of February 17, 2014 says no less, which denounces "a climate of fear making it possible to prevent any questioning of the current political regime and the ideology on which it is based. The institutions and officials concerned are not held to account. Impunity reigns ”.

“In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the use of torture is an established practice in interrogation, particularly in political crime cases. Deprivation of food and other inhumane conditions of detention are intentionally imposed on suspects to force them to confess and denounce other people, ”notes the UN, which also notes that“ the serious violations of human rights in Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including detentions, executions and disappearances, are characterized by a high level of centralized coordination between different parts of the highly developed security apparatus ”.

The United Nations General Assembly called on the Security Council in November 2014 to seize the International Criminal Court for it to investigate these crimes, but China and Russia, which have a veto, are opposed to this resolution.

On April 3, 2012, around forty non-governmental organizations campaigning for human rights had petitioned the United Nations to demand an investigation into the repression in the country as well as the closure of the gulag camps who, she said that 20 to 25% of those detained died, a figure far from 75%.

Various reports indicate that prisoners are deprived of all rights

Various reports indicate that the prisoners are deprived of all rights and willfully kept in such a state of famine that they dig even in the animal droppings to find grains to eat. According to Amnesty International, 40% of prisoners died of starvation between 1999 and 2001, some weighing only around XNUMX kilograms when they died. Prisoners who have not completed their work may be deprived of food, which fosters the vicious cycle of exhaustion. A survivor testifies to one of the moral consequences of famine:

“Watching people die happened frequently - every day. To be honest, unlike in normal society, this was seen as reason to be happy rather than sad because bringing a body back and burying it would ensure you have another bowl of food. "

Consuming hardly any calories, the prisoners are even more frozen in the icy rivers where the temperature can drop to -30 degrees Celsius in winter. The toes of those working in the water even end up rotting, and there are reports of inmates begging the guards to kill them. Some of the prisoners also work in the gold mines where the death rate is said to be very high, the second cause of death after undernutrition. The prisoners also die of tuberculosis, pneumonia or pellagra. (To go deeper : Ideology and terror in the North Korean gulag: believers, political prisoners and their families)

Yet despite all the overlapping documentation, Pyongyang continues to deny. As noted by the NGO Human Rights Watch, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea even ratified four of the main human rights treaties and signed one ; in november 2014, it ratified the optional protocol added to the convention on the rights of the child on the sale and prostitution of children as well as child pornography. The regime presents itself as open, democratic, like a Potemkin village of religious freedom. There are four churches in the capital and a number of Buddhist temples, intended to convince foreign visitors that there is religious freedom. In 2014, the authorities renovated one of the churches without diminishing the persecution. In 1992, American evangelist Billy Graham even taught a class at Kim Il-sung University, in the midst of a very severe period, but easier for religions than the current one, which ran from 1988 to 1997, shortly before the increased repression from the last decade.

Hans-Søren Dag

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