November 26, 2020 13:35
About 7,000 labor camp prisoners have been released in North Korea recently amid the coronavirus scare, according to the UN point man on North Korean human rights.
There is speculation that the regime had no choice but to release them as it has become difficult to control severely malnourished prisoners amid the epidemic.
In a video message to the general assembly of the International Parliamentarians' Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights in Seoul on Tuesday, Tomás Ojea Quintana said some 7,000 seriously undernourished camp prisoners have been released. He added that the regime has not responded to several requests from the UN for relevant data.
Radio Free Asia last week reported that the regime "ordered local cash-strapped governments and impoverished residents to foot the bill for housing and feeling" the released prisoners.
Qintana also urged the South Korean government to take the initiative in protecting defectors. He warned that fewer defectors would come forward to testify about human rights conditions in the North if they are ostracized by people here, and doing so would only play into the hands of the regime's goal of destroying solidarity among defectors.
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