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PRESS RELEASE: HRNK and DigitalGlobe Launch Report Based on Satellite Imagery of North Korea's Political Prison Camp No. 22
October 24, 2012



Report Embargoed until 12:01 am EDT, Wednesday, October 24, 2012


HRNK and DigitalGlobe Launch Report Based on Satellite Imagery of North Korea’s Political Prison Camp No. 22


The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, will launch a report entitled North Korea’s Camp No. 22. The report, embargoed until 12:01 am EST Wednesday, October 24, follows up on press reports that this camp, located in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, was shut down in June.


The report is the first step in a collaborative effort by HRNK and DigitalGlobe to create a clear picture of the evolution and current state of North Korea’s political prison camps. DigitalGlobe will provide new imagery, acquired specifically for this project, and older imagery saved in its archives together with an analysis to HRNK, the NGO that put North Korea’s penal labor colonies on the map by publishing Hidden Gulag by David Hawk in 2003 and Hidden Gulag Second Edition in 2012. Together, the two organizations will closely monitor North Korea’s political prison camps so that any attempts to distort the harsh reality of the camps by destroying evidence will not go unnoticed.


Based on an analysis of DigitalGlobe images from November 5, 2010, May 21, 2011, and October 11, 2012, the HRNK-DigitalGlobe report North Korea’s Camp No. 22 concludes that the imagery does not support reports that Camp 22 was shut down or abandoned during 2012. Harvesting of crops continues as does coal production, making it not yet clear that the camp has closed and that North Korean authorities have been slowly transferring small sections of prisoners out of Camp 22 and replacing them with a regular workforce from other locations. The satellite imagery does show the razing of a building that defectors identify as an interrogation center, but the report finds that “the camp remains operational.” Consequently, HRNK and DigitalGlobe will continue to closely monitor developments at the camp and throughout North Korea’s political prison camp system.    


“The North Korean regime’s hiding and distorting the harsh reality of North Korea’s unforgiving political prison camp system is no longer an option,” said Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee. “With constant satellite imagery, we can maintain a watch over these camps even if no outside entry is allowed.”


More than 120 states in the United Nations General Assembly expressed “serious concern” in 2011 about “the existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labor” in North Korea. “If North Korea is trying to make a Potemkin Village out of Camp 22, the world should know,” added Mr. Scarlatoiu.


HRNK’s 2012 report Hidden Gulag Second Edition contains information about Camp 22 and all other known camps. It concludes with a “a blue-print” for disabling and dismantling the prison labor camp system. It recommends immediate access to the prison camps by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Program. It recommends the creation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate North Korea’s breaches of international human rights law and international criminal law, concluding that massive crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in North Korea. It calls on China to allow access by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to all North Koreans seeking refuge in China, and calls on the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan to integrate human rights concerns into any future normalization of political and economic relations with North Korea.

HRNK, established in 2001 by a distinguished group of foreign policy and human rights specialists, seeks to draw attention to human rights conditions in North Korea by publishing well-documented reports and papers, convening conferences, testifying at national and international fora, and seeking creative ways to end the isolation of the North Korean people. 


The report North Korea’s Camp No. 22, embargoed until 12:01 am Wednesday, October 24, is available on HRNK’s website: www.hrnk.org



Contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, executive.director@hrnk.org; 202-499-7973




HRNK wishes to credit the role that DigitalGlobe experts are playing pro bono in this project, in particular Senior Analyst Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Imagery Analyst Amy Opperman, and Publishing Editor Katelyn Amen. HRNK also wishes to thank Curtis Melvin for the advice he provided to HRNK staff and interns, and acknowledges the contributions of David Zeglen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology—NUST) and HRNK Editorial Consultant Rosa Park.







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