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Published on 24 April, 2009

North Korea bill is pushed in USA

USA (MNN) — Tensions remain high between North Korea and the rest of the world. The government has been criticized for launching a rocket on April 5 and pulling out of six-party nuclear talks. North Korea is now upset about a border marker that was allegedly moved by South Korea.

As all the political bickering flies, North Korea is considered by the United States to be a country of particular concern for its religious and human rights abuses. The country also tops Open Doors USA's World Watch list of countries that allow persecution of Christians.

That's laying the groundwork for a bill that's being introduced in Washington, says Lindsay Vessey with Open Doors. "Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen just introduced a bill on behalf of the North Korean people. It essentially puts human rights and religious freedom on the same level as the nuclear issue."

Vessey says human rights and religious freedom issues are important. "A country who's not willing to treat its own people well is not trustworthy to negotiate on a nuclear issue."

The religious rights of the North Korean people have been violated for years. Vessey says, "Open Doors estimates that one in four of every North Korean Christian is in a political prison camp. They have absolutely no religious freedom. North Korean Christians have to worship in underground churches."

The Obama administration is trending toward more open communication with rogue leaders. Vessey is advising the administration to be careful. "There's a danger in not recognizing the evil in a certain regime, especially North Korea. So we want to tell the Obama administration that these are issues that need to have equal footing with the nuclear issue before they take action to recognize North Korea diplomatically."

North Korea's President Kim Jong Il is rumored to be sick. Vessey says she's not very optimistic for change. "Whoever does come to power, unless they're a completely different and a transformer type of personality, I think that they will still consider Christianity as a great threat to the regime and will continue to persecute Christians as Kim Jong Il has done."

Next week is North Korea Freedom Week. As it begins, Vessey is asking people to encourage their legislators to help. "People can go to our Web site (openDoorsUSA.org), read about the bill, and send their representative an e-mail directly from our site. And even if you don't know who your representative is, the software will figure it out for you."

If you are a U.S. citizen, click here to send that message to your representative.

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