North Korea (MNN) — North Korea
is openly defying the international community and threatening global
security. A bill introduced in Congress
this week puts nuclear issues on par with human rights abuses.
The bill, drawn up by Rep.
Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), calls for strong sanction against North Korea
and for a halt to all non-humanitarian assistance to the regime. In the meantime, the U.S. House Committee on
Foreign Affairs will mull over the North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic
Nonrecognition Act of 2009.
Lindsay Vessey, advocacy manager with Open Doors, says sadly, the bill has little bi-partisan support. Christians can effect policy changes. However, members of Congress have a lot on
their plate. "They can't be experts in
everything," she explains. She's
encouraging believers to get informed about what's happening and to call their congressional
representatives to urge them forward on such issues.
However, Vessey said at a rally this week, "I think that North
Korea 'human rights issues' just really aren't on the radar screen of most
American Christians." Attendees
were mainly North Korean Americans, some politicians and some of the refugees.
Lack of awareness is a major
obstacle to forward motion in advocacy for North Korea. That's why there is North Korea Freedom Week. It's an annual event to speak out about the situation and to help people grasp the plight facing many believers.
The North Korea Freedom
Coalition, sponsoring the week's events, currently has over 60 public member
organizations and individual members representing millions of American, South
and North Korean, and Japanese citizens as well as other nations.
The Coalition also has private
members that provide humanitarian relief inside North Korea and members in
China and other nations that feed, shelter, and rescue North Korean refugees.
Right now, an estimated 60,000
Christians are being persecuted in North
Korean prison camps. Eyewitness testimonies have confirmed that various means
of torture are being carried out on a regular basis. There are reports of shovel
beatings, box confinement and forced abortions. Many believers are victims of
A recent field report from Open
Doors revealed a warlike buildup by the government. Officials have ordered
citizens to gather 15 days worth of war provisions. Even young students are
being forced to transport ammunition boxes.
Vessey goes on to say that
questions over dictator Kim Jong-Il's health could press believers further
underground. "In times of uncertainty, often a country's government in a
totalitarian state will try even harder to control their people. One of the effects of that is a crackdown on
Christians. So, there are more
frequent searches and a more concerted effort to find out who Christians are
and to arrest them."
North Korea is also considered the
country with the most severe Christian persecution in the world, according to
the Open Doors World Watch List, compiled annually. This
year marked the seventh straight time that North Korea has topped the list. For details about the North Korea Freedom Coalition and to find out how to help, click here.