The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), part of the UN Human Rights Council, released a damning 372-page report on 17 February 2014 alleging “wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity” in the country.
The report claimed to have supporting documents revealing widespread torture, enslavement, murder and enforced starvation in a system of political prison camps, known as kwanliso.
It also urged the international community to “accept its responsibility to protect the people of the DPRK … because the government has manifestly failed to do so”. In fact, the chairperson, Michael Kirby, an Australian judge, has written to Kim Jong Un stating that he may be held personally responsible and faces referral to the International Criminal Court.
It also recommended introducing further sanctions against the DPRK and increased pressure on China to withdraw its support from its longstanding ally.
International media endorsed the report’s findings and the story occupied the central headlines in newspapers and broadcasts across the world. Commentators, politicians, and academics – promoted as ‘experts’ on the Korean peninsula – compared the situation to that of Nazi Germany and demanded international action.
The reaction has been a stage-managed cacophony of emotive and uninformed propaganda, and it constitutes an extremely serious, imperialist-orchestrated assault on the DPRK’s people and government.
As in the cases of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, the imperialists know that to lay the ground for a genocidal assault, the minds of the people must be conditioned to accept the casualties that will result from such a war as ‘necessary’ – as the ‘lesser evil’.
We note that the ‘report’ is used as the basis for a call for military action against the DPRK. Such a war would not be the first genocide that the USA, clothed in ‘UN’ colours, has committed on the Korean Peninsula. Peace-loving, democratic and progressive people the world over must be mindful of history and guard against this psychological warfare. We have seen just how many lives it costs – and that the cost is also our own freedom.
A careful and critical analysis of the report, which has not been conducted by mainstream academics and journalists, reveals serious concerns with its methodology.
Despite its unanimity, the report does not contain a single piece of evidence taken from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There are no photographs, no video recordings, and no credible documents of evidence of any of the alleged incidents or sites that the report describes.
The report’s findings are based on the testimonies of 80 people – including alleged defectors and ‘experts’ on DPR Korea – at public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington – the capitals of the very countries that have committed the worst crimes against Korea over the last century and more. The report’s authors also claim to have been informed by ‘secret interviews’ with approximately 240 others.
The important question to ask ourselves is: why has this report been commissioned? We know that imperialism has no interest whatsoever in upholding international law or in protecting the rights of minorities – or even of the masses. Quite the reverse, in fact! There is every reason for us to feel suspicious when the biggest bandits and war criminals on the planet are shouting in a heavily-orchestrated chorus about the ‘crimes’ of their enemies.
And, indeed, there is an established history of slander and falsifications made against socialist, anti-imperialist and non-aligned countries by the so-called ‘international community’ (aka the club of imperialist powers).
Recent history shows us many cases of ‘witness’ and ‘expert’ testimonies claiming to have ‘overwhelming evidence’ of heinous crimes that have been false. In each case, the uncovering of the ‘crime’ has served a propaganda purpose and provided moral justification for an imperialist war crime.
In 1990, in an emotional testimony given before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a witness claimed to have seen Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait removing hundreds of babies from incubators – stealing the equipment and watching the children die. The allegation was corroborated by Amnesty International, circulated throughout international media and used as moral justification for the US-led invasion of Iraq in the Gulf war of 1991.
In 1992, however, it was revealed that the witness was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and a member of ‘Citizens of a Free Kuwait’ – a government propaganda campaign group. An investigative journalist report later found that Iraqi troops had no part in the death of babies in the country.
It was a total fiction; a journalistic crime perpetrated at the behest of the Anglo-American billionaire class, with purely cynical and anti-popular motives from start to finish.
This shameful propaganda practice is hardly without precedent. In 1964, the United States invented the Tonkin Incident to justify going to war with North Vietnam.
In 2002, in the September (‘dodgy’) dossier, Tony Blair claimed that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ capable of being deployed against British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. In 2011, the United Nations claimed that Muammar Gaddafi provided ‘viagra-like’ drugs and ordered troops to sexually assault Libyan women.
These accusations were taken up and amplified by the international media and by ‘non-governmental’ agencies such as Amnesty International, and provided moral justifications for war. They were all proven to be completely untrue, but the damage caused was irreversible.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. It is simply ‘routine’ imperialist psy-ops military practice. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Indeed, in the Korean peninsula there exists an entire industry of falsification. Stories of crimes against humanity – the more wild and ridiculous the better – are printed as fact. They contain no evidence and rely on information from unverifiable sources.
A central part of this industry of falsification, fantasy and illusion is the use of ‘defectors’ from DPR Korea. It is alleged that there are tens of thousands of defectors – now living in south Korea, Japan, the United States and Europe – although this is incredibly difficult to verify.
Whilst defections do happen in all systems, there has always been a sizeable ethnic Korean population in China, since national borders never conform entirely to the distribution of national-ethnic populations.
Indeed, Koreans, as an oppressed nationality under Japanese occupation between 1905 and 1945, and as one of China’s own many nationalities, were involved from the early stages in the struggles of the Chinese communist party and of the Red Army – the forerunner of today’s People’s Liberation Army.
Koreans fought alongside their Chinese comrades during both the Long March and the anti-fascist war waged to liberate both Manchuria and Korea from the brutal rule of Japanese imperialism. They were fighting heroically against the Japanese long before Pearl Harbour brought the USA into WW2.
There is also a community of more recent economic migrants in the north-eastern provinces of China – drawn in part by the growing Chinese economy and driven to a degree by the effects of the vicious sanctions regime imposed by US imperialism on the DPR Korea, , as well as being the natural result of the regular interchange between the countries.
The authorities in south Korea, along with all sorts of imperialist agencies, have been agitating within these communities and offering huge financial incentives to those willing to publicly allege atrocities committed by the DPRK government. There are a number of examples of high-profile defectors signing publishing deals for books and films and winning celebrity status in south Korea.
Anti-communist propaganda industry grinds on in south Korea, while citizens are imprisoned for speaking out in favour of the communist north
In fact, the first individual to testify at the public hearings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK was Shin Dong Hyuk, the co-author (along with an American ‘ghost writer’) of Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.
This is an infamous book that contains gripping – though unverified – stories of terror and brutality that would not be out of place in a (needless to say fictional) Hollywood blockbuster. It is without fact or verifiable evidence and has, naturally, been made into a film. Indeed, Shin has changed his story on numerous occasions. As in the heyday of anti-Soviet writing, the burden of proof remains astoundingly low when it comes to anti-communist propaganda!
Shin was instructed during the UN public testimony that if he did not have enough time to submit evidence he could instruct the panel to consult his book. When asked why he and his family were imprisoned he said he could not remember, but he thinks his family may have collaborated with ‘the south’ during the war, although, of course, the war ended long before he was born.
There is no way that Shin can prove his lurid claims, but the material incentive for making them is clear. He now divides his time between homes in Seoul and New York and enjoys international stardom.
Shin’s media success encouraged dozens of others to come forward and make all sorts of equally lurid accusations against the DPRK. However, they are finding that the industry is becoming saturated. Once promised thousands of dollars, book and film deals, and celebrity status, ‘defectors’ are now finding that what awaits them is a life of debt, unemployment and exclusion from south Korean society.
So much so, that here has been a change in direction – even recognised by the south Korean government – as hundreds of people claiming to have suffered ‘terrible abuses’ and to have escaped from the DPRK in fear for their lives are now attempting to re-defect back to the north.
In an interview with Public Radio International, a man who allegedly helped dozens of ‘defectors’ settle in south Korea says that many, including himself, want to return to the DPR Korea. Speaking from Seoul, Son Jeong Hun said that in his experience “eighty out of a hundre defectors want to go back to north Korea”.
The road home, however, is perilous. It was, after all, the US and its south Korean fascist puppets who divided the country, and who built the wall perpetuating that separation. They have made it a crime to speak out in favour of the communist north – and one that is regularly punished by imprisonment.
Indeed, in the very same week that this report was published, a south Korean MP has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sympathising with the north – no outcry from the ‘human rights’ lobby here.
In another interview, one of the ‘double defectors’, as they are dubbed, explained that, after being duped by the offer of large sums of money, she experienced subhuman treatment in the south.
It must surely seem peculiar to even the most sceptical observer that hundreds of people who claim to have defected from a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship that is supposed to be committing ‘heinous crimes against humanity’ actively seek to return to that state.
Moreover, it is claimed that many more would return to Pyongyang if it wasn’t for repressive acts of the south Korean authorities. It is illegal for any citizen of south Korea to publicly sympathise with the north and many people have been imprisoned for doing so. Repatriation to the DPRK is, as mentioned above, also criminalised by the repressive south Korean regime.
There is not a single shred of first-hand evidence of crimes against humanity in the DPRK. There are also serious concerns, as detailed in this article, about the credibility of the second and third-hand accounts provided in the report.
It is remarkable that a UN commission has published a report condemning a sovereign state and recommending economic sanctions – and alluding to other interventions – on such flimsy evidence. But that is the reality that socialist, independent and non-aligned states face because they do not bend to the influence of the imperialist states that control the United Nations.
It was, let us not forget, under a UN flag that 4 million Koreans were slaughtered in he US-led genocide between 1950-53.
There is, on the other hand, a huge array of first-hand, independently-verified evidence to prove the claims of atrocities and crimes against humanity committed on the Korean peninsula by imperialism.
International war crimes tribunal charges United States with “criminal and even genocidal conduct”
In 2003, fifty years after the official cessation of the conflict, an international war crimes tribunal sitting in New York found that the United States – supported by British troops – committed atrocities against civilians during the Korean war. Despite the denial of visas to key individuals who wanted to testify, the evidence collected was overwhelming.
In 1950, US-led massacres killed approximately one quarter of the population of Sinchon county – 35,383 people – mostly non-combatants, elderly people, women and children.
In October 1950, US troops forced 900 people into a building and set it alight. In another area, 1,000 women were drowned.
The 2nd Battalion, 7th US Cavalry regiment murdered up to 500 civilian refugees in No Gun Ri that same year.
In 1948, a quarter of the population of Jeju island was exterminated because it did not support the US-backed regime.
The tribunal concluded that, between 25 June 1950 and 17 July 1953, over 4.6 million Koreans perished – including 3 million civilians in the north and 500,00 civilians in the south. The evidence overwhelmingly supported the charge that the United States was guilty of “criminal and even genocidal conduct”.
US ‘war hero’ and ‘democrat’ General Douglas MacArthur boasted of bombing Korea ‘back into the stone age’
A variety of evidence – from eye-witness testimonies to physical documentation – showed “the systematic levelling of most buildings and dwellings by US artillery and aerial bombardment; widespread atrocities committed by US and ROK forces against civilians and prisoners of war; the deliberate destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic production; and the use of illegal weapons and biological and chemical warfare by the US against the people and the environment of northern Korea”.
It showed that the US used weapons banned by the articles of war, including bacteriological and chemical weapons. US planes had dropped canisters containing organisms infected with plague, cholera and other epidemic diseases.
Napalm was used by the US military on an industrial scale against the Korean people.
And from Pyongyang to Fallujah, the US has never looked back.
The tribunal also found “gross and systematic violence committed against women in northern and southern Korea, characterised by mass rapes, sexual assaults and murders”.
Furthermore, there is evidence of numerous other atrocities having been committed against Korean civilians by both the US and their south Korean puppets in the decades after the war.
In 1980, the National Security Law was implemented by the US-backed military dictatorship in south Korea and was used to imprison up to 1 million civilians. Following an uprising in which the city of Kwangju was temporarily liberated, up to two thousand demonstrators, including workers and students, were massacred, and thousands more were injured.
The United States has also enforced economic sanctions on the DPRK since the 1950s. This has deprived the country of materials essential for civilian life including petroleum, medicines and a host of technologies to improve urban and rural infrastructure and food production.
Moreover, the artificial partition of Korea deprives the DPRK of much fertile land. This has caused difficulties in the production of food, particularly in periods of natural disasters. The imperialists have then politicised food-aid – withholding vital supplies during periods of crisis unless political demands were met.
History repeats itself – first as tragedy, then as farce
The United Nations, through its Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, is not only falling below international standards of research by promoting unverifiable sources as credible evidence; it is attempting to provide the moral justification for further economic and military intervention against the country.
The language employed – affirming that it is the responsibility of western powers to protect the people of Korea – is reminiscent of the justifications for colonialism, slavery and the genocide of indigenous populations by the imperialist powers.
It is psychotic behaviour to depict one’s victims as perpetrators, but that is the perverse situation on the Korean peninsula. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the victim of mass extermination by imperialist attack in the 1950s and of enforced hardship and attempts at inflicting mass starvation through economic sanctions ever since – is once again being accused of the very crimes that have in fact been perpetrated against its people by a series of colonial overlords and would-be overlords over a period of 100 years.
The most brutal, methodical and destructive occupation of Korea has in fact been led and perpetrated by the hypocritical ringleaders of the UN ‘accusers’ – by US imperialism itself. It would be farcical were it not so deeply offensive.
This report is an orchestrated political assault by an entity that provides the legal and moral framework for imperialism. The great capitalist powers, and in particular the United States, use the United Nations to facilitate their hegemony over Africa, Asia and Latin America. In this, however, they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the rise of China.
The United States committed genocide in Korea to stunt the growth of socialist revolution and to stop the development of socialist and non-aligned countries. Despite the collapse of the USSR, due to the own-goals of Khrushchevite revisionism, it has singularly failed in its primary objective.
The imperialist powers now face an increasingly confident, multipolar world, led by China, and seek to confront this rising tide of political and economic resistance with aggressive economic, political and – frequently – military interventions.
My enemy’s enemy is my friend!
The report is therefore not only an attack on socialist Korea, but also on China and other independent and emerging states.
It is attack also on the discontented working (and increasingly under- and unemployed) people of Europe, Japan and the US. For our enemy is here at home. The British capitalist may speak our language, but he is most decidedly not our friend. Imperialism is our mortal enemy.
To succumb to the Union Jack-boot, the butcher’s apron and the bowler-hatted marching drum is to lose any chance of building an alternative to the perpetual crisis, slavery and war of our ruling class’s system of wage slavery, hypocrisy, poverty, war and greed.
Despite the emotive and hysterical accusations, it is clear that those who stand against atrocities and crimes against humanity should stand firmly with the DPR Korea and China. Resist the ‘humanitarianism’ of imperialism. Resist the ‘democracy’ espoused by the genocidal maniacs and the free-market fundamentalists; by the servants of ‘the city’, of monopoly capital.
Why is Tony Blair now joining the Sunday Times rich list? As a reward for leading British people by the nose to the high altar of their own exploitation and wage slavery, and cajoling us into complicity in plunder, rape and mass murder in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and around the world.
No price is too high to pay for their profit? We say ‘Enough’!
Fight modern-day slavery; fight imperialism! Defend the DPRK!
No to imperialist war!