Christians protest on behalf of North Korean refugees

By November 23, 2007

North Korea (ODM) — North Korean Jong-Cheol (not his real name) lost his father at a young age. He was brought up by his mother and grandmother,
who were both Christians.

When he was small, Jong-Cheol's grandmother told him Bible
stories. Like many other children in famished North Korea, he started to roam
around the country. One day he crossed the border into China.

In China, he was taken in by a Chinese missionary. There
Jong-Cheol came to faith in Jesus Christ. He also realized that his mother and
grandmother had already been Christians.

One day he was captured along with several other children.
The Chinese police arrested them, and they were forcibly repatriated to North
Korea as thousands of children and adults are every year. There the children
were rigorously interrogated on a daily basis. One of the children snapped and
told police that Jong-Cheol was a Christian. The North Koreans executed
Jong-Cheol because he refused to deny he was a believer.

The Chinese-North Korea border is guarded by the best North
Korean soldiers. On the Chinese side, there are miles of fences, and cameras
have been installed. North Korea, too, is in the process of erecting fences.
Besides this, the North Korean army has laid booby traps — pits with bamboo
spikes in them. Fleeing is practically impossible now, unless you have a paid
"guide" and you bribe the soldiers on the North Korean side.

As a result of the treatment of North Korean refugees by
China, the North Korea Freedom Coalition — which includes Open Doors USA — is
planning an International Protest Against China's Violent
Treatment of North Korean Refugees
. On Friday, Nov. 30 and
Saturday, Dec. 1, demonstrations, petition deliveries and prayer vigils will be
held at Chinese consulates and embassies in major cities around the world.

"The demonstrations are a way of pressuring the Chinese
government to comply with their obligations under the U.N. Convention on Status
of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol," says Open Doors USA Advocacy Coordinator
Lindsay Vessey. "Under this convention, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) should have access to the North Koreans refugees hiding in China —
estimated at 100,000 to 300,00 — and be able to protect and help them find
asylum in other countries like the U.S. and South Korea. Yet, China is deporting refugees back to North Korea where they
face terrible punishment–death like Jong-Cheol suffered or long prison terms.

"The Chinese government
needs to know that Christians around the world are aware and care about the
government's flagrant human rights violations and that we are committed to
praying and assisting these refugees. Please
consider joining those around the world protesting against this injustice and
praying for the refugees, many of whom are Christians."

Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the
North Korean Freedom Coalition, adds: "For several years both the Chinese and North
Korean authorities have implemented measures to close the border. Currently the
Chinese authorities are working more aggressively with North Korean
agents to hunt down and repatriate the North Korean refugees. We have
heard several reports that North Korean agents are posing as refugees to draw
out both humanitarian workers and true refugees as part of this escalating
crackdown. Even refugees in jail are being used as 'bait' to
draw out potential rescuers, so that Chinese authorities can arrest them."

"How ironic that this crackdown
has intensified because of China's concerns over the upcoming Olympic
Games. China cannot risk the world community seeing with their
own eyes China's horrific treatment of the North Koreans, so they hope to
eliminate the problem by forcing them back to face torture and
imprisonment and even execution for fleeing their homeland.
 How ironic that an event promoting good will among
nations is causing the Chinese to treat their neighbors with
increasing brutality!"

The schedule for the International
Protest Against China's Violent Treatment of North Korean Refugees
includes (all events start at noon local time):

 Friday, Nov. 30:

  • Los Angeles – 443 Shatto Place
  • New York City – 520 12th Ave. (corner of
    12th and 42nd Street)
  • Washington DC – 2300 Connecticut Ave.,
    N.W., petition delivery and dramatization of plight of North Korean
    refugees

 Saturday, Dec. 1:

  • Chicago – 100 West Erie St.
  • Washington DC – 2300
    Connecticut Ave., N.W.
  • Houston – 3417 Montrose Blvd.
  • San Francisco – 1450 Laguna St.

Protests are also being organized in such countries as
Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Norway, Spain, South Korea
and United Kingdom. For more information on the events, go to http://members.opendoorsusa.org/NKProtest.

Vessey adds that North Korea has been ranked No. 1 on the
annual Open Doors World Watch List for five straight years. The World Watch
List ranks 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution.

The North Korea Freedom Coalition is a bipartisan coalition
of religious, human rights and non-governmental Korean and American
organizations whose primary purpose is to bring freedom to the North Korean
people and to ensure that the human rights component of United States and world
policy towards North Korea receives priority attention. The North Korea Freedom
Coalition Web site is www.nkfreedom.org.

To register for the Open
Doors' North Korea Prayer Campaign, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. You will be asked to sign up
and pick a weekly 10-minute time frame when you can lift up North Korean
Christians in prayer. You will also receive a weekly email update of the
current prayer requests.

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