Rep. Cliff Stearns
U.S. House of
Up for a Free North Korea
March 14, 2006
Mr. Speaker, the North Korean regime has the worst human rights record in
the world. Citizens are denied the most fundamental freedoms in classic
Communist fashion, the economy results in shortages and an ever-present
threat of starvation.
regime has divided citizens into 51 classes. At least 7 million citizens,
more than one-third of the population, are regarded as members of a hostile
class, categorized as a potential threat to the existence of this regime.
Members of this class are held in one of North Korea's 12 known prison
camps. According to an MSNBC news report from January 2003, one of these
prison camps is literally three times the size of Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, the State Security Agency maintains at least 12 political prisons
and about 30 forced labor and reeducation camps. There are also rumors of a
series of underground camps. No one knows how many exist and, of course, how
many prisoners are being held.
gulags await any citizen, even children, who dare to commit such crimes as
reading a foreign newspaper, singing a foreign pop song, listening to a
foreign radio broadcast, or making statements that could be interpreted as an
insult to the regime. The camps combine starvation, hard labor and brutal and
irrational punishments. In one camp, former inmates claim prisoners work in
such hard conditions that 20 to 25 percent of the 50,000 prisoners die every
To leave North Korea
without official permission is an act of treason. The Communist regime
maintains a series of detention facilities along the border with the People's
Republic of China
for refugees forcibly returned. Pregnant women endure forced abortions or
have their infants killed just after birth on the off chance that they were
impregnated by Chinese men. Everyone is then interrogated to determine the
extent of their exposure to the Free World, literally having the truth beaten
out of them.
This determines whether
the regime sends these refugees to a gulag facing certain death or to a gulag
facing likely death. The massive mechanistic prison camp system, combined
with the outlawing of immigration, has led many to refer to North Korea
as ``the world's largest prison camp.'' Jasper Becker, former Beijing bureau chief
for the South China Morning Post, has estimated that Kim Jong Il and his
father, Kim Il Sung, are responsible for killing over 7 million Koreans, 3
million civilians in the Korean war, 3 million by deliberate famine, and at
least 1 million more political prisoners either executed or worked to death.
Mr. Speaker, even worse
is the Free World's help that props up this regime. Since 1995, the United States
has provided over $1.1 billion, about 60 percent of it for food aid. About 40
percent was energy assistance through the Korean Peninsula Energy Development
Corporation, KEDO, a multilateral organization established in 1994 to provide
energy aid in exchange for North
Korea's pledge to halt its nuclear
program. The Bush administration finally shut down the KEDO program earlier this
year, long after North
Korea had publicly violated the agreement
that secured KEDO energy payments in the first place.
Food aid to North Korea
has also been an international humanitarian fraud. The Communist regime
prevents donor agencies from operating in the country. The biggest suppliers
of aid, China and South Korea,
do little or no monitoring of what happens to the food that they supply to
this country. The world's food and humanitarian aid rarely makes it to those
suffering in North Korea.
Instead, it has been used to feed Kim Jong Il's million-man army, almost 1
million people in his security forces, as a preference for the Communist
Party elite. No such aid should be allowed against North Korea demonstrates tangible
progress to freedom and transparency. Now some people worry about the risk of
confronting and destabilizing a hostile and heavily armed power. These people
should know that no good policy comes without risk.
President Ronald Reagan
did not coddle the Soviet Union, he did not
offer to provide them the nuclear fuel they need to build nuclear weapons in
the silly hope they would not build any. President Reagan took the struggle
for freedom and democracy to the gates of the Soviet
See the original in the Congressional
Record on Pages H875
return to my