I intended this as an exclusively technological blog but after seeing the movie Yodok Stories yesterday I feel I can’t keep silent on the subject. I’m even more touched by the movie because the first years of my life I spent myself in a communist dictatorship though it was already in its last stage and can be by no means compared to the nightmare of Korea.
On this planet there are hellish places where human life or dignity have no value, where people live in such a suffering, fear, and pain that we perhaps even can not call them human any more. These places are well hidden from our sight though as the recent Fritzl case has shown, it doesn’t need to be far away. I’d like to remind the world of two such places because pretending they do not exist only helps them to last longer. It’s very good that everybody speaks about the human rights violations in Tibet but there are countries that need our attention even more though they may not be as attractive and "in".
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: The Hell on Earth
Simply known as North Korea, this country is a victim of likely the hardest totalitarian regime on the Earth. The inhabitants are cut off from the outside world and would only learn from the state media how great their fatherland, Party, and beloved General Kim Jong-il are. And I’d expect them to believe it because the propaganda is so strong and other voices inexistent that they’ve no way to resist it. And anyway they’ve enough trouble with trying to get something to eat (though today is far better than during the famine of 90’s that killed 2-3 million people).
On the bright side you can see mass parades demonstrating the people’s happiness and devotion to the country, Party, and the Eternal President and his son. On the dark side there are about 20* concentration camps. They are perhaps the most hellish places on the Earth. One of them you can leave if you are extremely lucky and live to the day, the others are till death. It’s estimated that maybe 100 or 200 000* people are imprisoned there, which is a higher number than the estimated size of North Korean elite of cca 150 000* (depends how you count). The Party is uncompromising in its fight against the internal enemy aiming at destroying the happy Republic and therefore if you commit a crime against the country, Party, or President/General, such as telling an unpleasant truth, trying to emigrate, or dishonoring the President, you will be sentenced to detention in a camp together with your children and parents. God be with you then (if there is any in North Korea at all).
In a camp you are not a human anymore and the only rights you have is the right to suffer and the right to die. You, your little child, and old parents are all class enemies. You will experience constant hunger, cold, health problems, torture, rape. You can trust nobody, nobody will help you, nobody cares about you. You’re a class enemy trying to destroy the north Korean communist paradise and therefore you deserve hell and you’ll get it.
* Of course any information about North Korea is uncertain because the regime tries to prevent the truth from coming out and certainly they’ve the means.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Woman’s Nightmare
10 years of a civil war torture Congo, supported by battle forces from Rwanda, Zaire, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia taking the country for a place to exercise their influence and square accounts with one another.
The poor civilians of Congo are mere amusement for the rolling armies. It’s common for a woman to be kidnapped, hold as a sex slave and repeatedly raped until she dies or is perhaps released back to her home village where she’s often rejected and cast out by her husband, perhaps with all the children. Actually the term "woman" is misleading. Any female between birth and death is a potential subject to rape (and perhaps death as consequence), now and whenever another military force passes by, being Congolian or foreigner. An older woman was raped by a group of child soldiers that could have been her sons and grandsons. It’s a question whether those who die aren’t luckier. I’m a man (I must feel ashamed of that) and can hardly imagine the psychological trauma of a woman that has lived through such a terror and that she will carry till the death.
I’ve been neither to a North Korean concentration camp (thanks!!!) nor have I been a raped woman in Kongo and inevitably my information about this is very limited. But my knowledge of the world and of the truth of Nazi and Czech and Soviet concentration camps lead me to believe the worst. During World War II people in America or England were unwilling to believe the brutal truth of concentration camps and Holocaust and of course it’s always easy to deny the existence of something unpleasant (barely adequate term!). That’s why I cannot deny these things do happen.