Google Earth Helps Human Rights Activists Map North Korean Concentration Camps
The product, mostly for recreational and marketing purposes, is now being used by these activists to uncover the more than 250,000 political prisoners held in the secret and inhumane prisons of North Korea (population; 23 million).
Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently traveled to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in a move criticized by the State Department as "ill-timed" because of Pyongyang's recent missile launch.
And though human rights activists don't really think the "humanitarian" trip can help North Korea's political prisoners, they give Google credit for at least trying to help.
"What Eric Schmidt does or does not do in Pyongyang will probably be forgotten in a few weeks," said Joshua Stanton, a Washington-based lawyer, blogger and activist. "The good that Google has done, however inadvertently, by helping people tell the truth about North Korea, will probably be reflected in the history of the country one day," he added.
Stanton's blog shows Google Earth images, as well as analyses of six North Korean political prisons, in order to identify the secret camps and shed light over who he thinks are innocent victims being held by a totalitarian regime for political reasons (the maps show gates, guard houses, and even some coal mines and "crude burial grounds").
"The largest of the camps, if you don't know what you're looking at, look like towns or villages, and I suspect they are designed that way to fit into the countryside," concluded Stanton.