While everyone has been enjoying the Winter Olympic Games, wondering
who the judges will be on this season’s “The Voice,” and shaking their
heads in wonder/disgust at the antics of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber,
there have been a few important events happening in the past couple of
- The Syrian peace talks broke down so spectacularly, the
two sides could not even agree on an agenda for the meetings. Now
government forces have picked up their attacks on the rebels.
Iran, now free from a vast majority of sanctions because of the recent
treaty, is now sailing two warships to patrol off the eastern coast of
the United States.
- Argentina is in the middle of its fourth
monetary system collapse since the early 1980s. South America’s largest
economy is bankrupt - again - because the high costs of its social
programs far outstripped tax revenues and piled up an insurmountable
mountain of debt.
- Fires burn and the body count is mounting in
the Ukraine as government forces fight with lightly armed citizens who
are protesting against the leaders. The situation is so bad it has now
been reported the Ukrainian Minister of Defense refused this week to
take calls from the U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a response
the Obama administration called “pretty unusual.”
Even if readers
were able to keep updated on all those events, they still might have
missed a 372-page report that was issued on Monday. This tome was
prepared by a United Nations panel and studied a massive and growing
amount of complaints over human rights abuses in North Korea. What the
report concluded is that not only are the allegations true, the reality
may be far worse than anyone suspected.
estimates that as many as 200,000 political prisoners are being held and
tortured in North Korea while other international rights groups put the
number closer to 400,000. It is hard to imagine how a government could
detain that many political prisoners until one remembers that speaking
out against government actions or its leaders is an arrestable offense.
It also a crime to own a Bible and religions such as Christianity have
The report detailed that prisoners in some camps
are so starved they catch and kill the rats and snakes that wander into
the prison areas. Female prisoners who become pregnant are beaten and
then forced to drown their babies after they are born. Prisoners are
forced to stand with their arms or legs chained in impossible positions
for days or weeks, often resulting in permanent disfigurations. No
official number of the dead has been compiled but the estimates range in
the tens of thousands.
But the world should not be surprised by
this kind of treatment by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s government. In
fact, we have seen it before.
In February of 1933, after taking
control of a weak and divided German government, Chancellor Adolf Hitler
ordered the first concentration camp built in his country. By the end
of the year, more than 45,000 political prisoners were detained. By
1942, more than 300 concentration camps had been erected and
extermination camps like those at Treblinka and Sobibur were in full use
as well. By then, when the world’s media and leaders finally began
paying close attention to what was happening, millions of people had
already paid for the inattention with their lives.
frightening as the treatment of his own people, only a few short months
ago Kim Jong-un was desperately attempting to secure nuclear weapons and
technology for North Korea. It is horrifying to consider what those
weapons of mass destruction could do to the region if he was ever able
to get them under his control.
It is getting harder every day to
keep track of all the hot spots around the world that we need to keep an
eye on. However, North Korea has proved that it deserves to be
somewhere near the top of the list.