Activist Tim Peters Receives Human Rights Award
From: Norwegian Mission to the East
The prestigious Stephen’s Prize this year will go to a Christian activist who assists North Korean refugees in China. Mr. Peters will receive the prize from the Norwegian NGO “Norwegian Mission to the East” for his pioneering and courageous work for these refugees, helping them find safe refuge and freedom. Mr. Peters will come to Oslo in early November of this year to receive the prize.
The Stephen’s Prize 2008 will be awarded to Timothy A. Peters, an American Christian activist living in Seoul, South Korea. Peters is the leader of “Helping Hands Korea”, an NGO providing aid and assistance to North Korean refugees stranded in China.
An estimated 300.000 North Korean refugees are living in fear and hiding in China. They face the risk of being arrested and forcibly repatriated to North Korea by Chinese authorities. In North Korea, any attempt to flee the country is regarded as treason against the nation. Categorized as a capital crime, defection is punished very severely. Repatriated refugees are often transported to the severe conditions of labour camps where many die of exhaustion. Outright executions also occur, especially when Christian refugees are discovered. Prior to the Beijing Olympics, the authorities on both sides of the border have made it almost impossible for would-be refugees to escape the food-strapped North. Witnesses say that refugees are now being shot and killed as they try to escape.
The focus of Helping Hands Korea is on practical welfare. Food, clothes and medicine are distributed through Chinese churches to the neediest refugees. Refugees who need protection from the police get assistance to live in hiding. The most vulnerable ones are offered logistical help to escape along demanding and dangerous escape routes, either to Mongolia or other neighbouring countries. Helping Hands Korea also places a premium on sharing the Good News with the North Korean refugees as an explanation for its motivation to do this work.
Mr. Timothy A. Peters often appears in the media to speak on behalf of North Korean refugees. He and his organization have been portrayed in many international publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Times, BBC and ABC. On May 1, 2006 Mr. Peters and his work along the “Underground Railroad” were portrayed in a cover story of TIME magazine’s Asian edition.
On many occasions, Mr. Peters has endeavoured to influence the US and other Western governments to take a far more active involvement in protecting these “forgotten” refugees. Among others, he has given testimony to the US Congress on three occasions. The lion’s share of Helping Hands Korea’s work involves highly practical measures to support and assist families and individuals that face highly vulnerable and difficult situations as refugees.Timothy A. Peters is a recognized and highly respected Human Rights activist. In a Wall Street Journal article dated October 2007 he was suggested as a relevant candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Peters, an American citizen, has been married to his wife from South Korea for 33 years. Mr. Peters has been working as a missionary and Human Rights activist for more than 35 years – in South Korea, China, Japan, South America, and the Samoan Islands.