The disturbing eyewitness accounts of executions in N. Korea

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According to a report by The Transnational Justice Working Group (TJWG), a human rights organization, acts of brutality against North Korean citizens are regularly carried out by Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a report released Wednesday, TJWG says witnesses confirm that Jong Un’s regime directs firing squads to execute “criminals,” with the punishment being meted out in public places, ostensibly to create an “atmosphere of fear” in the country.

TJWG says 300 North Korean defectors, who witnessed the incidents, provided the details.

According to some interviewees, the government made executions public spectacles if the “criminal” had undesirable family connections, or if a new decree was issued from the central government. The execution would stand as a way to establish the new precedent, and instill fear of repercussions.

According to the report:

“In ordinary areas outside the prison system, our interviewees stated that public executions take place near river banks, in river beds, near bridges, in public sports stadiums, in the local marketplace, on school grounds in the fringes of the city, or on mountainsides.

The major charges for such killings as reported by the interviewees included: stealing, transporting and selling copper components from factory machinery and electric cables; stealing livestock (especially cows, which are national property); stealing farm produce such as corn and rice; murder and manslaughter; human trafficking (including brokered defection and selling women for marriage in China); distributing South Korean media; organised prostitution; sexual assault; drug smuggling; and gang fighting. “

The TJWG also included information about killings that take place in political prison camps (gwalliso) and correctional prisons (gyohwaso). Those executions were also meant to incite “fear and intimidation,” in this case “among potential escapees.”

Informal, secret killings were performed out of the sight of other inmates. Formal killings were visible to other inmates, who were “required to watch the proceedings,” according to the report.

Accompanying the information about “killing sites” are maps and information about mass graves and cremation sites.

“The maps and the accompanying testimonies create a picture of the scale of the abuses that have taken place over decades,” the report said.

Pyongyang maintains that no human rights abuses take place in the rouge nation, but a 2014 United Nations commission report found a number of violations.

Following the death of  young American Otto Warmbier, after he’d been held in a North Korean prison, questions about how Warmbier was treated have been raised. North Korea says they did not torture or abuse Warmbier, who was returned to his family with a devastating brain injury.

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