(NaturalNews) They say technology is making the world smaller, and that is especially true of surveillance technology, as Google Earth proved once again recently by exposing the location of scores of North Korean gulags where as many as 250,000 political prisoners considered enemies of the regime may be held.
More than just simple prison compounds, the search giant's satellite images provide indisputable evidence of the existence of the rarely-seen camps, giving new ammunition to human rights groups who have long described as "deplorable" Pyongyang's record of citizen abuses.
Not surprisingly, the North Korean government has always vehemently denied the existence of the camps, insisting that any claims to the contrary are merely foreign propaganda. But "the advent of high-resolution, free images from outer space has disproved those claims," Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported.
"The dramatically improved, higher resolution satellite imagery now available through Google Earth allows the former prisoners to identify their former barracks and houses, their former execution grounds, and other landmarks in the camps," said a new study called Hidden Gulag.
Jailing generations of North Koreans for a lifetime
On Jan. 18, the North Korean Economy Watch website reported that a new camp had been identified near an existing detention facility, in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province. Analyst Curtis Melvin, using Google Earth satellite images, concluded that the new camp sits alongside Camp 14 and that its perimeter fence winds around for some 13 miles.
The analyst said the new facility had been built since the last images of the same area were released in December 2006.
According to analysts who dissected the images, the fence around the new compound contains two checkpoints and six guard posts. Several accommodation units and office buildings are clearly visible, and a coal mine within the fenced-in area does not appear to be in operation, Melvin said.
Very few North Korean inmates have managed to escape from the country's 50-year-old network of camps. Those who have, tell stories of horrific depravity and suffering. Malnutrition is rampant, for example; some former prisoners have said they existed by eating rats and picking kernels of corn out of animal waste.
Some inmates can be imprisoned simply because they were critical of the regime. Many of those are jailed for life, along with three generations of their families.
Human rights groups have said that as many as 40 percent of inmates eventually perish from a variety of afflictions: malnutrition, torture, sexual violence and abuse by guards. Some are just worked to death. Escapees say men, women and children - yes, children - are required to work up to 16 hours a day, often in dangerous conditions, mining or logging. Anyone sent to a "labor camp" likely will never leave; escape attempts result in execution.
"The North Korean regime 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 for Human Rights in North Korea, which produced the Hidden Gulag report. "With constant satellite imagery, we can maintain a watch over these camps even if no outside entry is allowed."
America the gulag?
Some say the North Korean system of prison camps is where President Obama is taking America.
"In light of a newly uncovered U.S. Army document that outlines plans for prisoners, including U.S. citizens, to be re-educated in detention camps, it's worth reminding ourselves of the fact that Barack Obama's political mentor, Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, once called for precisely the same thing," writes Paul Joseph Watson for InfoWars.com.
He said according to former FBI agent Larry Grathwohl, who was assigned to infiltrate the Weather Underground's Central Committee, the domestic terrorist group Ayers headed that carried out bombings targeting the Pentagon, State Department and other federal and police buildings, the goal of the president's longtime associate was to bring down the U.S. government and allow Cuban, North Vietnamese, Chinese and Russian troops to occupy the country.
Grathwohl said the Weathermen told him the camps would be used to "re-educate people into the new way of thinking."
In May, the site published details of a leaked U.S. Army document that laid bare plans for "political activists" to be pacified by "PSYOP officers" into developing an "appreciation of U.S. policies" while detained in prison camps inside the United States.
The document, FM 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations, was once accessible online, but when Natural News attempted to access the site for this story, we discovered the U.S. Cyber Command is now blocking it.