Our Activities Plan for FY2001-2002
Pressing the Chinese government to observe the Refugees Convention
The Chinese government has long refused to acknowledge North Korean escapees as refugees.
Instead, they arrest and forcibly repatriate them, insisting that they are illegal immigrants. When they are sent back, these unfortunate people are severely punished as national rebels under Article 47 of North Korean Criminal Law.
It is true that China has ratified the Refugees Convention, but the Chinese government forcibly repatriates those refugees. This, despite the fact that such refugees forcibly returned to North Korea are almost always in mortal danger, or at the very least face severe persecution.
This is a serious breach of the Refugees Convention. We must, therefore, continue our critical efforts to persuade the inflexible Chinese government to observe human rights; the Chinese government refuses to acknowledge these people as refugees.
Discussion of human rights in North Korea in the international arena
The refugees who are forcibly sent back to North Korea are met by torture and violence in concentration camps, detention camps, and the like, where there is a total disregard for human rights.
Every single day that passes sees this torture and violence continue to turn the refugees into the physically handicapped and the dead.
"No criminals have human rights," the official position of the North Korean government, has led to this tragedy, and there is no sign of a shift from this position.
North Korea is riddled through with informers and ruled by fear. Merciless psychological repression and barbaric acts of violence are repeated daily by public authorities, producing an endless stream of victims.
However, the unrelenting efforts of international non-governmental aid groups and human rights NGOs have persistently brought accusations against the North Korean government. They have presented appeals to the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Amnesty International.
This eventually precipitated a situation in which the North Korean government was compelled to provide explanations to international observers. Specifically, at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in July, North Korea presented a written report on its survey of actual conditions under International Covenant B on Human Rights (civil, political rights).
Representatives of the North Korean government publicly reported on the recent situation of six of the seven refugees detained in Russia who became an international issue last year.
The government representatives claimed that North Korea is observing basic human rights including freedom of the press and the prohibition of torture.
Strengthening joint efforts with NGOs and international organizations
Although some are skeptical of the explanations and reasons provided by North Korea, attention should be focused on the international surroundings that pressured North Korea, for the first time in 20 years, to come to the international arena and explain the human rights situation in their country.
We need to continue even stronger joint efforts with international NGOs and organizations until the North Korean Refugee problem is resolved.
Intensifying activities to raise international public opinion
To disclose the situation in North Korea more widely throughout the world, we intend to actively provide mass media with facilities or assistance wherever it can help secure the lives and safety of North Korean refugees.
This subject is, however, extremely delicate, and must be handled with the greatest possible care. The relationship of mutual trust is of vital importance. For this reason, we consider it essential to establish a standard for providing such facilities or assistance, and continue to work through a council system consisting of three members or more.
Challenges we face
1. Activities to secure the safety and protection of North Korean refugees
- Continue to secure shelters and take necessary measures.
- Supply clothing (for summer and winter).
- Supply food to the shelters and temporary retreats.
- Medical aid (help to pay the expenses for emergency operations and hospitalization).
- Financially assist Korean-Chinese who are helping to protect and secure the safety of the refugees.
2. Self-reliance projects
We will continue to help the refugees stand on their own feet by making full use of their skills, knowledge, and courage.
3. Educational foster parent system
- Help them with the production, distribution, and selling of knit cushions.
- Help them with the sale of wooden products, including key holders and crosses, and also give them advice on craftsmanship.
We will further promote aid to provide children of school age from North Korea with minimum education, and continue our efforts to recruit more foster parents who are in agreement with our purposes. To further expand our educational foster parent system, we will discuss the updating or elimination of rules, and we will also work to reach necessary agreements on other subjects.
4. Food Supply Operation
We will maintain the existing food distribution routes RN-01 and RR-02, as well as the irregular supply route RR-03 in North and South HamGyong in North Korea. For the time being, we plan to continue distributing the equivalent of 5 tons of rice each month.
Flexibility is essential to accommodate possible changes in distribution quantity and the number of distribution sites in response to changing needs or situations.
We are considering the addition of two tons a month, as we expect to develop the irregular route RR-03. At the moment, however, the average annual quantity continues at about six tons.
5. Helping the refugees to move and settle
We will continue to help refugees who need to move and settle in a third country by working together with persons and groups concerned. Another plan is to scout for appropriate human resources and nurture them into experienced human resources versed in the issue.
Our intention is to emphasize cooperation with young Korean volunteers whom we have cultivated so far, and to add to our knowledge, information, and skills.
In addition, we are planning to maintain and further develop cooperation with the NGOs with whom we have worked together in the past.
6. Enhancing the function of our office
7. Publication of pamphlets and books
- Install a copier at the office and improve the secretariat system.
- Increase office activities by assigning one three-hour day each month primarily to the administration officers living in Tokyo and the surrounding metropolitan area.
- Enlist part-time volunteers about three days a week, for a few hours each day, to improve communication among members and to reduce the load on the administrative officers.
We plan to publicize the true situation regarding the humanity and human rights situation in North Korea by publishing pamphlets and books that feature the testimony and experiences of actual victims.
8. Holding report meetings and informal gatherings
We plan to hold meetings to report on the actual situation of North Korean refugees at various places to spread greater understanding and to encourage more activity.