Activities from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011
Sept. 7~8: Attended International Conference of ICNK (The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea)
Oct. 9: Held the 14th LFNKR general meeting in Tokyo
Dec. 28: Concluded the second term at the Japanese Language Education Center for NK refugee
Activities from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2012
Feb. 2: 3 NK refugees from rescue operation "Dragon 0201" entered Japan
Feb. 4: Participated in One-World Festival (annual event for NGOs dealing with issues of human rights violation, refugees, ethnic disputes, poverty, etc.)
Feb. 6: Held lectures in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan during the human rights enlightenment week
Feb. 7: Gave lectures with visual materials at seminar hosted by League of Parliamentarians for Early Repatriation of Japanese Citizens Abducted by North Korea
Feb. 9: Initiated rescue operation "Dragon 0209"
Mar. 24: Concluded the third term at the Japanese Language Education Center for NK refugees
Apr. 8: Cherry-blossom friendship gathering at Shinjuku Park in Tokyo
May 4: Held Symposium on North Korea in Tokyo
June 13: Gave lectures in Gunma Prefecture on North Korean human rights issue
Jul. 16: Gave lectures in Kanagawa Prefecture on North Korean human rights issue
Aug. 7: Urged South Korean Embassy in Thailand to protect North Korean refugees suffering from tuberculosis
Aug. 23: Helped 2 children and 1 grandchild of an NK refugee couple already in Japan to join the couple
1. Rescuing North Korean refugees who wish to resettle
LFNKR continues to engage in the rescue of North Korean refugees while carefully maintaining a low profile for safe rescue conditions. Three people made it to safe zones in February 2012, and five in August 2012. A new characteristic among recent North Korean defectors is that they are relatives or even immediate family members of those who have already resettled in South Korea or Japan.
2. Japanese Language Education Center for North Korean
Immigrants in Japan
In response to a request from Cultural Affairs Agency of the Japanese government, LFNKR has implemented a program for North Korean permanent residents to learn the Japanese language (60hrs. for the 1st term and another 60hrs. for the 2nd term). The two terms subsidized by the Agency were not enough language training, so LFNKR raised funds to add a 3rd term for the students requesting additional classes (total of 180hrs. of Japanese language classes).
3. Distribution of food and medicines
Because of the stepped-up border security, very few North Koreans can cross the border to visit LFNKR shelters where we supply food. During the past year, LFNKR has supplied a total of 50 tons of food mainly to orphanages and hospitals in Ryangang-do and North Hamgyong. In addition, we have supplied food for 20 Kkot-jebi (homeless children), who are hiding in the Baekdu Mountain area on the China side facing Hyesan, Ryangang-do. LFNKR continues to pay the medical expenses for a North Korean boy who lost both feet due to the combination of frost bite and burns. In the near future, we will help the boy be fitted for prosthetic limbs. In addition, LFNKR has supplied 600 home medical kits to North Korea.
4. Education sponsorship program
For the new school year in China, which starts in September, LFNKR has supplied the money to cover shelter and education expenses for the first half term for twenty foster children in China.
When our education sponsorship program started in 1998, almost all the children were orphans from North Korea. The twenty foster children currently under the LFNKR education sponsorship program are mostly children born between North Korean female victims of human trafficking and Chinese men incapable of rearing their children. Some local governments in China have started to recognize the situation and allow those children formal census registration. However, their North Korean mothers are not granted resident status; instead, they are still arrested and forcibly repatriated. So, we should continue urging China to also grant the North Korean mothers resident status.
The policy of the Chinese government toward North Korean orphans is changing. From the latter half of the 1990's to the first half of 2000's, North Korean orphans and North Korean women accompanied by their children were all arrested and forcibly sent back to North Korea. Since then, children whose fathers are Chinese are allowed to stay and only their North Korean mothers are being sent back.
5. Cooperation with other international and domestic NGOs
In addressing the North Korea human rights violation issue, LFNKR has been working jointly with more than 20 domestic and international NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide), Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium), Defense Forum (US), Freedom House (US), US Commission for Human Rights in North Korea, Open Radio (South Korea), Democracy Network against North Korea Gulag (South Korea), No Fence (Japan), and The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan).
5-1. Establishment of ICNK
On Sept. 7 and 8, 2011, 43 human rights NGOs, including AI and HRW, gathered in Tokyo from 15 nations to establish The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK). The goal of the international coalition is to establish a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity in North Korea.
For your reference:
LFNKR is actively engaging in these activities with the ICNK group mainly by lobbying Japanese bipartisan parliamentarians and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pass a parliamentary resolution, thus preparing for the UN General Assembly. On April 3, 2012, the ICNK lawyer group, including Mr. Gerald Guenther, an international lawyer who handled the cases of Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, announced that they had submitted to 12 UN human rights related agencies a petition for rescuing the prisoners in the concentration camps in North Korea. The petition urges the UN to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the ongoing crimes against humanity in North Korea.
5-2. Presenting "the crimes against humanity" to the
Spanish National Court
On June 29, 2012, LFNKR, together with 18 NGOs from South Korea, US, UK, France, and Japan, established the International Network of North Korea Human rights Activists to accuse Kim Jong-il of crimes against humanity before the Spanish National Court. This is another step forward to strengthen our efforts to urge the resolution of the human rights issue in North Korea. The indictment has been accepted by the Court, and we await a defense speech from North Korea.
5-3. Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique new process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. LFNKR joined the first review of human rights in North Korea in 2009 by submitting reports, and participating in panel discussions and press conferences in Geneva. In 2011, LFNKR submitted a follow-up report to UPR info. To be qualified to participate in the UPR, NGOs are required to obtain consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. This requirement is not easy to fulfill. We have now applied a second time and are awaiting their decision.
For more details, read:
5-4. Tie-up with medical aid NGO terminated
The tie-up with an international medical emergency aid NGO was terminated in September 2012. Although we have been able to provide North Korean refugees escaping from their country with necessary emergency medical care so far, we need to seek another, more reliable group willing to provide medical care on a more consistent basis.
6. English website, PayPal donors, and citizen supporters
LFNKR has tried harder to add to the information posted on our English website, because we consider our websites (in Japanese and English) as important tools for publicizing the plight of North Korean refugees. While we translated and posted a total of 19 articles during the previous fiscal year, this year we increased the number of translated articles to 34, partly thanks to the help of a dependable translation volunteer in the US.
Our activities are solely financed by donations from individuals. There were 342 donations through PayPal during the past year, an increase of slightly more than 100 over the previous year. However, the total amount donated did not exceed the amount received in the previous year because there were fewer large donations. LFNKR deeply appreciates all donations. They support the lives of the still-suffering North Korean refugees.
LFNKR extends a special note of gratitude to the members of ARC headquarters in Washington DC. For several years now, they have been sending us hand knitted goods to help keep North Korean refugees warm during the cold winter months.
7. Problems Remaining to be Solved
As we mentioned in last year's report, we continue to receive emails from abroad asking if we will accept interns. Quite a few of them wish to go out into the field and engage in rescue operations, even though their linguistic skills in Korean or Chinese are often not good enough for the task. Also, their motivations are based solely on compassionate feeling, which, though admirable, is not enough for working under the risky conditions involved in rescue operations. A certain degree of tough-minded pragmatism is demanded for accomplishing the missions.
Desirable interns or volunteers would have the following qualifications:
(1) Fluent in Japanese-English or Korean-Japanese and capable of handling emails;
(2) Residing in Southeast Asia and fluent in Japanese-Korean or Korean-English, and have good understanding of the North Korean human rights issue; or
(3) Capable of setting up and running LFNKR websites in Hangul or Chinese.