Chuck Colson

Note: The following commentary contains graphic descriptions of human-rights abuses that may not be suitable for some readers.

The story was reminiscent of the horrors of Auschwitz. Kwon Hyuk, who recently defected from North Korea, was telling a British journalist what it was like to work at Camp 22, North?s Korea?s infamous concentration camp. As Hyuk recalled, ?I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.?

Above the glass chamber, scientists were calmly observing and taking notes, just like the Nazis did sixty years ago with medical experiments.

It?s a dreadful testimony?but typical of those given by people who manage to escape North Korea?s brutal regime. Others tell stories of prison guards who stamp on the necks of newborns to kill them. One former prisoner, Soon Ok-lee, tells of being ordered to pass out poisoned cabbages to fifty fellow prisoners?women who then vomited and died within twenty minutes of eating them.

Atrocities like these are the reason that some forty groups, including the Wilberforce Forum, have formed the North Korea Freedom Coalition. Our goal: to urge the State Department to fully implement the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004, which we also helped get passed.

The coalition has reason to believe that some at the State Department are dragging their feet. Hints of unwillingness to act appear in the State Department?s Report on the Status of North Korean Asylum Seekers and the government?s policy toward them. For example, as we wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the report claims that ?current treatment of returned migrants is generally better than it has been in previous years.? Recently escaped refugees would have told them otherwise; so would human-rights groups that have received credible reports of the execution of North Korean migrants when they return home.

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
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