Two Female American Reporters Sentenced to 12 Years in North Korea
Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the two reporters for Current TV who were arrested when North Korea said they were improperly in the country, have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. The LA Times reports:
Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, were arrested March 17 along the China-North Korean border after top officials in Pyongyang said they had encroached on North Korean soil while reporting a story on human trafficking by Kim Jong Il's regime.
Laura Ling is the sister of tv personality Lisa Ling. Will that help her get released?
Life in a North Korea labor camp is not pleasant:
North Korean labor camps are notorious for their high death rates because of malnutrition and overwork. But thus far, the women have been fairly well treated, housed in a Pyongyang guest house and allowed occasional telephone calls. The Swedish ambassador has also been permitted to visit them.
The U.S. has made overtures for their release, but it sounds like they wanted to wait until the trial was over:
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called for the women's release.
Clinton said she has spoken with foreign officials with influence in North Korea and explored the possibility of sending an envoy to the North, but suggested that no one would be sent during the trial.
I hope Al Gore goes over. They were reporting for Current TV, a company he founded, and surely he has some diplomatic abilities.
Now that the results came out from the trial, the next step will be a political pardon and a diplomatic resolution," he said. "It's highly likely that Al Gore will visit Pyongyang as early as late this week."
Al-Jazeera has more on the labor camps:
The US state department estimates that 150,000-200,000 prisoners are detained in the camps, located in valleys in remote mountainous areas of the and central and northern part of North Korea. There are thought to be between six and eight main camps, with dozens of other smaller camps.
Conditions in the network of labour camps are reported to be extremely harsh, with rights groups saying that torture and ill-treatment are widespread and thousands of children held and forced to work as slave labourers alongside their parents.
The same article states that reportsby human rights groups show that 20 to 25% of the female prisoners die every year.
According to a recently published report by the nongovernmental US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, thousands of prisoners are forced to work – many to their deaths – in mining, logging, farming and industrial enterprises.
The committee's report entitled "The Hidden Gulag" said that the camps give out such meagre food rations that prisoners are kept in a condition of "deliberately contrived semi-starvation".
The Human Rights Groups say:
Human rights groups believe most of the prisoners in North Korean labour camps are political detainees, many serving life sentences and often with up three generations of their family detained with them.
"Inmates are made to work from early morning till late at night in farms or factories, and minor infractions of rules can be met with severe beatings," Amnesty International's latest report on North Korea said.
If you have the stomach for it, read on:
Former inmates who have escaped North Korea have given accounts of brutal treatment inside the camps, including regular beatings, forced abortions, and rape.
Others have told of Nazi-style experiments involving chemical and biological weapons resulting in the painful deaths of dozens of prisoners at a time.
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