North Korea Defector Says Disabled Newborn Babies Are Routinely Killed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

North Korea Defector Says Disabled Newborn Babies Are Routinely Killed

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 22, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — A doctor who defected form Communist-controlled North Korea told a human rights panel on Wednesday that few disabled people are living in the Asian nation because physicians kill any newborn babies with physical disabilities shortly after birth.

Ri Kwang-ch told the panel that infanticide of disabled babies is widespread, but said he didn’t participate in the practice before fleeing the country last year.

"There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," Ri told members of the New Right Union, a group that partners human rights activists with North Korean refugees.

According to a Reuters report, Ri said disabled babies were killed in hospitals or homes and quickly buried. He indicated the North Korean government encourages the practice to "purify" its population and get rid of people who are "different."

Reuters reported that NRU activists urged South Korea to abandon its "silent" diplomacy in favor of sharp condemnations of North Korea’s human rights abuses.

The government in the Asian nation had refused to join the international community in condemning various human rights problems in North Korea because of worries it would damage already tenuous relations between the two nations.

North Korea has also come under fire for forcing pregnant women to have abortions if they are in prison or have had sexual relations with a Chinese man.

During emotional testimony in Seoul last year, a woman named Kim Chun Ae described the horrors of life in a North Korean prison. She said authorities there “forced a woman who was eight months pregnant to have an abortion just because the father of the baby was Chinese.”

She also said that a number of girls are sold to traffickers as sex slaves. It’s a situation that could leave young women especially vulnerable to abortion.

"I remember crying when I thought of a 12-year-old girl who was sold to traffickers. Children at her age need care and protection from their parents. But they are sold to traffickers and forced to live as sex slaves. Girls aged 17 to 19 were sold in one place, to be resold to other places by traffickers," Kim said.

An early 2005 U.S. State Department report on conditions in North Korea stated, “The [government of North Korea’s] human rights record remained extremely poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses."

The Bush Administration report added, “Defectors have reported that government officials prohibit live births in prison."

"Prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening, and torture reportedly was common," the report explained. "Pregnant female prisoners reportedly underwent forced abortions, and in other cases babies reportedly were killed upon birth in prisons."

North Korea officials also torture women from China who are fleeing that Asian nation to escape its coercive one-child policy that has resulted in similar forced abortions, forced sterilizations and imprisonment.

The report said prison officials force mothers recently repatriated from China to watch the infanticide of their newly born infants.

"According to defectors who were imprisoned in the 1990s, in cases of live birth, the child was immediately killed," the State Department report revealed. "[T]he reason given for this policy was to prevent the birth of half-Chinese children."

Related web sites:

State Department Report on North Korea –