North Korea's Experiments on Human Beings Smack of Nazism

Roundup: Media's Take

Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman, in the Straits Times (March 22, 2004):

THE brutality of the 20th century has given George Santayana's observation that 'those who forget history are condemned to repeat it' the standing of an absolute truth. Less noted but equally true is that dictators study history in order to repeat it.

Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were students of political history, including the works of Machiavelli. Saddam Hussein carried a well-worn Arabic translation of Mein Kampf.

Now, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shows he is a no less apt pupil of history, having learnt from his mentors how to use terror to gain and exercise power, crush domestic opposition and build and maintain brutal concentration camps to rival anything built by Hitler and Stalin.

MR KIM also excels at the propaganda war, especially when it comes to brainwashing the country's children. Consider how he uses The Diary Of Anne Frank, the touching chronicle of a child desperate for love and hope while hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

Anne's moving plea for tolerance and peace in the midst of despair and brutality is presented in North Korea's schools as a manual for preparing for the next war against 'the American imperialists' who, as one student puts it, are 'worse than Hitler's fascists'. Like his totalitarian predecessors, who contorted hope into hatred, Mr Kim's regime twists the message of Anne Frank to teach hatred of 'Nazi America'.

Unfortunately, the Nazi analogy is devastatingly appropriate - not for the United States, but the brutal North Korean regime. In the past few weeks, new information has come to light bolstering charges that political prisoners are being gassed in 'experiments' worthy of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's 'angel of death'.

Korean human rights activist Do Hee Youn revealed top secret documents from North Korea's secluded Vinalon Complex - site of a factory producing nerve gas and blister and choking agents.

The factory's former chief engineer Kang Byong Sop smuggled out papers showing political prisoners were trucked in twice a week for experiments. He also provided this personal witness: 'I saw human hands scratching a round glass window inside a chamber that was locked with a heavy metal door.'

The factory is in the remote town of Hamhung, along with Camp No. 22, Mr Kim's largest concentration camp.

Mr Kang's revelations are new confirmation of what Mr Kwon Hyuk, former security chief at Camp No. 22, told the world a few months ago. 'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' he charged.

'The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save their children with mouth-to-mouth breathing.'

North Korea 'stonewalled' and attacked the credibility of these reports. The most prestigious Western media, and even US Secretary of State Colin Powell ('optimistic' about six-power talks with Pyongyang on nuclear weapons) downplayed or chose to ignore the horrifying claims of North Korean concentration camps and gas chambers.

The resulting virtual non-story is not only eerily similar to initial reports of Saddam's 1988 gassing of Kurds but another haunting reminder of the Holocaust, when so many early reports of Nazi killing squads and death camps were also dismissed as biased or erroneous by Allied governments and media.

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