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A non-government organization based out of Seoul, South Korea, claims that they have possible evidence of crimes against humanity. The organization is called the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) and they have been investigating crimes that the North Korean government may have been committing against their own people.
TJWG released a report last week; a two-year investigation they have been conducting on the North Korean government claiming they have evidence of crimes the North Korean government has committed again their own people. TJWG has interviewed almost 375 North Korean defectors over the last two years. They also claim that they have used Google Earth technology to enable them to build a digital map of crimes against humanity in North Korea.
TJWG states in their report that the interviews and the research they have conducted identifies possible grave sites, murder locations and government offices that could be used for future investigation and prosecution of crimes against humanity.
Some of the locations that the defectors have identified are reported to be commonly used for hangings, public executions, cremation sites, and remote burial sites. Some of these places are near known detention facilities and labor camps. TJWG states that most of the burial and killing sites identified were in North Hamgyong Province, which borders China. TJWG acknowledges in their report that 221 of the 375-people interviewed came from the North Hamgyong Province.
TJWG claims that their intention is to provide the evidence and all information they have gathered to legal authorities. The main goal of the investigation is to have the United Nations conduct a criminal investigation into crimes against humanity and to hold the North Korean government accountable for their actions.
The report also states that some of the areas that interviewed defectors have identified are not burial sites. Some of the places that TJWG has identified are believed dump sites, this means that some of these places are hidden in remote area where bodies were simply abandoned. Other places have been described as storage sites for bodies yet to be buried or cremated.
TJWG claims that the organization, used Google Earth technology to help gather the data that was collected. The organization states that they spoke with hundreds of North Korean defectors over the last two years. The first year they interviewed 100 informants and the second year they interviewed 275 more defectors. TJWG states that they used satellite imagery with basic landmark information such as rail lines, to help them identify burial sites. The information that defectors provided allowed investigators to orient themselves to terrain, both man-made and natural, and subsequently led to the identification of many locations.
TJWG stated that they also categorized the information according to the source’s relationship to the location or the event. They also noted if the person being interviewed was physically present, heard or saw directly, the incident. This helped them determine the credibility of the source.
During the two-year investigation, TJWG collected data that spans several decades. This means that the information is not just from Kim Jong Un’s current bloody reign, but also on his father Kim Jong Il, the former Supreme Leader. It is unknown if the TJWG is working with the UN or how they plan to pursue criminal charges against the North Korean government. The report that the TJWG released does not identify a certain person or group in the North Korean government that should be held accountable.
This report of human rights violations in North Korea is one of many concern in the international community. In recent years, North Korea has isolated themselves and have continued to conduct several missile tests. This includes the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that has the capability of reaching the United States.
Gruntworks Media will continue to follow this story and update you as we get more details.