A human rights group based in Seoul claimed at the British Embassy in South Korea on Friday that North Korea is conducting chemical and biological weapons experiments on disabled children.
The bombshell allegation was delivered by Joanna Hosaniak, deputy director general of the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, during a press briefing at the British Embassy announcing a report titled “The status of women’s rights in the context of socio-economic changes in the DPRK.”
Hosaniak authored the report in which she said a North Korean government official who defected to the South last year described a so-called “Hospital 83” on an island off the coast of South Hamgyong Province where he claimed disabled children are being used for “medical tests such as dissection of body parts, as well as tests of biological and chemical weapons.”
“We were wondering whether to include this in the report, because the report is mostly about women’s rights. But we did ask interviewees about the treatment of the disabled, and this came out in their answers,” Hosaniak said during the press briefing.
The report consists of interviews of 60 women mostly from North Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces located in the country’s northeastern region. The report was supplemented by 20 “in-depth interviews” of North Korean experts and government officials.
British Ambassador to South Korea Scott Wightman praised Hosaniak and the group for their “admirable work” at the press briefing.
An activist from a different North Korean human rights group also based in Seoul said that while such abuses are not entirely out of the realm of possibility, he had never heard of any other report making similar claims.
Hosaniak said the allegation that North Korea is conducting biological and chemical weapons experiments on disabled children was first revealed by one high-level North Korean government official in the 20 supplemental interviews and corroborated by a low-ranking police officer who was one of the 60 women interviewed.
In the report, Hosaniak says the policewoman reported that an institution practicing chemical and biological tests on the disabled is taking place in a secluded mountainous area.
“She had an idea about the procedure of how children with disabilities are sent ― or people who are dangerous ― to these places,” Hosaniak said.
Hosaniak said her group decided to include the allegation in the report to alert the international community as the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on North Korea prepares for its investigation into human rights abuses in the North.
By Philip Iglauer (firstname.lastname@example.org