North Korea Christians ‘Crushed Under Steamroller, Trampled Underfoot, Hung on Cross Over Fire’: Report

North Korean Christians suffer grave human rights violations, such as being crushed under a steamroller, a new report says.
The statues of Kim Il Sung (left) and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang (April 2012) Wikimedia Commons

Christians in North Korea suffer from different forms of torture, including being crushed under a steamroller, says a new report released Thursday by a nonprofit organization.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an organization that advocates for the protection of religious freedom and human rights, published a report entitled "Total Denial: Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea," which gives information about the conditions of Christians in the country.

According to North Koreans get exposed to Christianity through various means, such as family ties, receiving information through texts or people, talking to missionaries or members of religious organizations and being connected with religious institutions outside the country.

Christians in the country meet secretly to avoid the authorities. Those who are caught participating in religious activities or having religious materials are imprisoned. Some are sent to labor camps, where "conditions are extremely harsh."

"Prisoners are forced to carry out long days of hard labour, such as mining and logging. Malnutrition is rife due to the poor rations, and increases the mortality rate. Prisoners live in poor accommodation that does not provide adequate protection against the tough winters, further damaging their health; and are subject to brutal treatment, torture and even execution by prison guards," the report said.

Additionally, "unauthorized reproduction" is prohibited and "violent measures" are employed in women who get pregnant. Some family members of known Christians are also brought to the camps as punishment for "the guilt of the targeted individual."

"The prospects for prisoners in these camps are extremely bleak," the report said.

The torture that Christians suffer from the hands of North Korean authorities include "beatings with fists or implements such as electric rods, wooden pokers, metal poles; water torture through forced submersion; and being used as test subjects for medical training and experimentation."

"Documented incidents against Christians include being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot," the report further said.

CSW urged North Korea to abide by international human rights laws and put an end to the human rights violations being committed by the authorities.

North Korea has ranked first among the list of nations where persecution is severe for the 14th consecutive year. According to the World Watch List, Christianity is viewed as a threat, "an opium for the people" and a "despicable" Western influence.

"North Korea remains an opaque state and it is difficult to make sense of most of the news pouring out of the country. This is even truer when it comes to topics like human rights or the situation of the Christian minority," religious organization Open Doors USA, which released the World Watch List, said on its website.

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