Dozens of North Korean prisoners starve to death at labour camps after Kim Jong Un’s strict Covid rules prevent them getting food

  • Kaechon Prison gives prisoners food but it is not enough and many starve 
  • Same story in Chungsan Prison and other labour camps due to Covid rules
  • Family were able to bring in food before but not during pandemic if far away 
  • Comes after country declared it was virus-free on August 10, said to be false  

Dozens of North Korean prisoners have starved to death at labour camps after Kim Jong Un’s strict Covid rules prevented them from getting food. 

Kaechon Prison in South Pyongan province provides food for inmates but it is not enough.

This is because prisoners have to perform hard labour every day. Surviving in the camp is reliant on their families bringing them extra food when they visit. 

A major outbreak of the virus meant that North Korea declared a ‘national maximum emergency’ in May.

According to Radio Free Asia, during the emergency, families who lived a long distance away from the prison could not visit.

This caused malnutrition cases to increase among those in prison. It resulted in he deaths of 20 women. 

Kaechon Prison in South Pyongan province provides food for inmates but it is not enough. This is because prisoners have to perform hard labour every day. Surviving in the camp is reliant on their families bringing them extra food when they visit. If not, then many will starve. Pictured: A female soldier by a barbed wire fence around a camp (file image)

A source told RFA: ‘Last week, I visited my sister at Kaechon Prison and she told me 20 female prisoners died from malnutrition and harsh labor.’

The source added that before the pandemic, three or four prisoners died each month.   

And they explained that their younger sister is serving five years in prison for making phone calls to a family member who had escaped the country and resettling in South Korea.

They added: ‘There are still about 50 prisoners diagnosed with malnutrition in the women’s prison and they were isolated into a group of sick inmates. They can’t get up or sit down. They seem like they are waiting to die.’

The source explained that guards are tasked with entering the prison and piling the bodies on one side when a death happens.

Prisoners then have to transport the dead bodies on a stretcher to bury them in the mountains behind the prison, at the end of each month. 

The prison only provides inmates with a single rice ball each day, not enough for them to survive on by itself.

The prison only provides inmates with a single rice ball each day, not enough for them to survive on by itself and they need extra food from their families. Pictured: Prisoners at a North Korean prison camp in Sinuiju

Elsewhere, prisoners in Chungsan Prison in Ryanggang can have family visits once every three months. 

Also due to Covid measures, movement was restricted and those closer to the prison could provide food to their families but those further out could not. 

Those in places such as Ryanggang province can only bring food once every six months with the help of servi-cha- trucks or vans owned privately and used to send goods or people to places that are not accessible by trains. 

Because of this, some people in Chungsan Prison have not had any food from families during the pandemic.

It means that 15 women have died of malnutrition in the past month alone because of a lack of outside food. 

The second source explained that when a prisoner dies at Chungsan Prison, the prison calls inmate’s hometown police and asks them to take the body back to the family. 

But because of COVID, families were asked to take responsibility for the body. Bodies at Chungsan Prison are rolled up in straw bags and buried around the prison if the family do not arrive in time.   

The rules had slightly relaxed on prison camps after international criticism about them in 2015. But because of COVID hey were tightened again. Pictured: A North Korean prison policewoman stands guard behind fences at a jail on the banks of Yalu River near the Chongsong county of North Korea (file image)

The second source explained that because North Korea faced international criticism over its treatment of prisoners, the country began to punish officials in 2015 in prisons where many inmates died.

After this, rules became a bit more relaxed. Families are allowed to visit every month instead of three months.

And 10 per cent of the food brought has to be shared with prison inmates so that those with no visitors still get extra. 

However, because of the pandemic, rules changed again and visits were limited to once every three months.

The second source explained that because less food was coming in, malnutrition increased.   

It has been claimed by both sources that authorities are trying to cover up the malnutrition deaths instead of stopping them.

Sources have claimed that authorities are trying to cover up the malnutrition deaths instead of stopping them. Pictured: A camp in Chongori North Hamgyong Province (file image)

It comes after North Korea claimed victory against coronavirus and ended the maximum emergency order on August 10.

They said that the country was completely virus free but this is untrue, as suspected cases continue to report to quarantine centres.

RFA was told by a source that anyone in South Pyongan with a high temperature of above 37 degrees has to be separated and quarantined.

She explained that those in quarantine at the Anju Hotel have to gargle with salt water three times a day for seven to 15 days and are given two fever reducers a day. 

Those quarantined can only be released when symptoms disappear.

Elsewhere, in Songchongang, 200 people are quarantined with fevers. Doctors have to check the body temperatures of every resident every morning.

Those with body temperatures of 37 degrees or higher have to be registered. 

And they dismissed the government’s declaration that North Korea was virus-free as ‘false propaganda.’ 

Source: Read Full Article