August 12, 2003
Chinese security officers in Shanghai on August
8 reportedly arrested two members of a Japanese NGO, along with
nine North Korean refugees they were allegedly attempting to
help escape from China. Also arrested were two South Korean
journalists whom the authorities charge with accompanying the
group to document the event.
According to an announcement by The Society
to Help Returnees to North Korea (HRNK), a Japanese NGO, the
head of the organization, Professor Fumiaki Yamada, 54, of Japan,
and NGO staff member Mr. Kim Kijyu, a South Korean national
in his forties, were arrested together with two South Korean
journalists and nine North Korean refugees. Shanghai security
authorities on August 8 are reported to have arrested the group
for allegedly organizing an illegal entry.
The incident came to light when it was reported
by the Foreign Ministry of Japan, which has lodged an inquiry
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
Reports say that the nine North Korean refugees
arrested in this incident are:
2 males in their 30s: 2nd generation
1 female in her 30s: 2nd generation
1 female in her 30s: North Korean
2 children: (ages 7 and 1)
1 female in her 20s: North Korean
2 returnees in their 40s
The group assembled in Shanghai on August 5,
allegedly planning to dash into a facility affiliated with the
Japanese consulate there, to seek asylum in the final destination
of South Korea.
Although our organization, Life Funds for
North Korean Refugees (LFNKR, a Japanese NGO), did not participate
in the attempt, we share the same dedication to helping North
Korean refugees, and we fully sympathize with their desperate
gamble on such slender hopes.
Obviously, the incident is a direct result of
the Chinese government's ongoing breach of international laws,
including the 1951 Convention on Refugee Status and the 1967
Protocol on Refugee Status, of which China is a signatory nation.
The above international laws on refugee status
have been clearly acknowledged as holding precedence over the
Chinese domestic laws now being used to justify charging the
members of this group with organizing an illegal entry.
From both humanitarian and international perspectives,
we call on the Chinese authorities to immediately release the
Japanese and the South Korean members of HRNK and the two South
Korean journalists. Further, we demand that the Chinese authorities
not repatriate the nine North Korean refugees to their country
where they are sure to face severe punishment, including the
possibility of the death penalty. We strongly urge China to
release the refugees to South Korea, their intended destination.
LFNKR wishes to see the Chinese government
accept these North Korean defectors as legal refugees without
delay, and thus to regain the respect of the international community,
who esteem true humanitarianism and the rightful respect of
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024
P.S. -- Please send your protest
Mr. Hu Jintao, President of China
c / o Mr. Wu Dawei
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Japan