A South Korean human rights group claims to have identified a large collection of mass graves inside the oppressive and reclusive North Korea.
The Transnational Justice Working Group (TJWG) interviewed 277 North Korean defectors over a period of about a year, according to Yonhap News Agency. Using satellite imagery in combination with defector testimony, the organization was reportedly able to find 12 mass graves, the final resting places of those deemed unacceptable by the regime.
The graves are located near public execution sites and the prison camps, where rape, torture, and murder are common occurrences.
South Korean officials counted 64 public executions in the first nine months of this year, and reports indicate there are around 80,000 to 120,000 people languishing in North Korea’s prison camps, the existence of which Pyongyang refuses to acknowledge. It is unclear how many prisoners perish in these camps annually.
“We began this study because we need to be able to provide clear and solid evidence of what has been happening in North Korea and to share that information with the international community,” Oh Se-hyek, North Korean defector and TJWG researcher, told The Telegraph. “We also want to send a clear message to North Korea that we are watching the human rights abuses that are going on and that we intend to do the same into the future.”
“Human rights abuses in [North Korea] are among the worst in the world. The government continues to commit extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, and torture,” Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said in July.
The TJWG plans to use their data to eventually take legal action against the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and his brutal regime.
The organization intends to conduct interviews of more defectors and release a report of its findings in April of next year.
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