A former prison guard at one of North Korea’s largest prison camps says prisoners were forced to dig their own graves before being killed with a hammer.
Satellite images released in May by Amnesty International showed the prison camps are expanding, adding new housing blocks, production facilities, and perimeter security.
“The gruesome reality of North Korea’s continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed. We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those prisoners of conscience held in political prison camps and close the camps immediately,” Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher, told Fox News.
In an interview, a former guard who worked at Camp 16 in the 1980s and 1990s said prisoners dug their own graves before being killed by hammer blows to the neck. The man, indentified only as Mr. Lee, told Amnesty International he witnessed prison officers strangle detainees or even beat them to death. Mr. Lee said women were raped and then killed.
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"After a night of 'servicing' the officials, the women had to die because the secret could not get out. This happens at most of the political prison camps," Mr. Lee said.
Six new housing blocks were built at Camp 16 since 2011.
A former detainee, Kim Young-soon, who was imprisoned at Camp 15 from 1980 to 1989, said she witnessed two detainees executed after they attempted to escape.
"They were brought to a stage after they were badly beaten," she said. "The prisoners were tied to wooden stakes and shot three times in their head, chest and feet."
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Amnesty International has been unable to verify the population at Camp 15, but it says up to 200,000 people, including children, are being held "in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps.”
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, based in Washington, reported in September that thousands of prisoners may have been killed when Camp 22 in North Hamyong province was closed in 2011.
A defector told the group that the camp once held 30,000 detainees, but that the number dwindled to 3,000 due to a food shortage.