(ANS) -- Recent reports by human rights organizations accuse North Korea of putting up to 180,000 people into forced labor.
There are reports that Christians are among the inmates facing torture, starvation and execution in political prison camps, according to an online article at www.Christiantoday.com .
Persecution watchdog Release International is working to support North Korean Christians who have fled their country by providing safe houses, pastoral support and health care.
Andy Dipper, of Release International, said: "Those who’ve got away (from North Korea) describe these camps as 'hell on Earth’."
"In this land where a form of emperor worship is practiced, Christians can be detained, brutally tortured and removed from society,” he said.
"Some risk being shot by border guards as they try to flee the country to avoid persecution and oppression."
Meanwhile, an interim petition calling for religious freedom in North Korea has notched up more than 20,000 signatures from concerned Christians in the UK.
Release International presented the petition to the North Korean embassy in London last week.
It demands that the oppressive communist country grant freedom of worship to Christians, who face regular harassment by the authorities and can be arrested or imprisoned for even owning a Bible.
Release International is still collecting signatures and will present the final petition to the North Korean embassy at the end of its campaign.
Dipper appealed to more Christians to sign the petition.
"20,000 people have already stood with persecuted North Koreans by signing the petition calling for freedom. It’s not too late to take your stand," he said.
The petition can be signed online at www.releaseinternational.org/petition