Category Archives: Human Rights Abuses

Former NK Defector Speaks at One World Festival

Refugee Tells Her Story

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

On Feb. sixth and seventh LFNKR participated in the One World Festival held in Osaka, Japan to help boost the public’s awareness of the many human rights abuses that continue in North Korea.

At the yearly One World Festival, NGO/NPOs, international institutions, local administration and companies involved in international cooperation gather together to tell about their activities, and to hold symposia and panel discussions on such issues as peace, human rights and the environment.

The following is a brief summary of the report prepared by Mr. K.G., a member of LFNKR. It describes the testimony presented by Ms. Koh Jeong Mee, a former NK defector.

Still more proof of outrageous crimes against humanity

North Korea"s latest missile launchFollowing January’s fourth nuclear test, North Korea launched yet another missile on Feb. 7 despite  strong and repeated criticism by the international community.

According to South Korean government estimates, the money spent by the North Korean government on the development of nuclear missiles totals somewhere between 2.8 and 3.2 billion US dollars.  This much money would buy 9,330,000 to 10,660,000 tons of corn, enough to feed every person in North Korea for 31 to 36 months.

Meanwhile, North Korea still depends on food aid from other countries, including Russia and China.

These facts demonstrate the magnitude of the North Korean government’s crimes against humanity.  The government of that country should, by rights, be standing trial before the International Criminal Court.

URGENT APPEAL

On the Human Rights Situation in North Korea

February 6, 2016

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January of this year despite the suffering of its people. Although North Korea claims that it was a hydrogen bomb, questions remain due to the nature of the seismic activity associated with the blast.

The North Korean government announced that the hydrogen bomb test “firmly protects the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the nation…and reliably safeguards the peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional security” and even now is going ahead with missile launches.

Terror in a Solitary Confinement Cell

The MC's height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

The MC’s height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

LFNKR On Dec. 5, jointly hosted a seminar as one of the events held during the first week of December to help promote public awareness of the North Korean human rights issue. The seminar was titled “Terror of Whistle Blowers in a Solitary Confinement Cell.”  To emphasize what it was really like, LFNKR specially created two full-size punishment cells not just for display but also to give participants the experience of being in the cages.

We invited Mr. Jeong Kwang-il, who has experienced being locked up in one of the punishment cells,  to talk about the confinement and one of the tortures called “pigeon torture.” In the pigeon torture, a person’s hands are tied behind their back and handcuffed so that they can neither stand nor sit.

Jeong Kwang-il explains the "pigeon torture"

Mr. Jeong  explains excruciating postures in the cage

Mr. Jeong Kwang-il is Director of No Chains for North Korea and the Director of Human Rights Investigations for North Korea Watch.  He was confined in Yodok Concentration Camp,  one of North Korea’s most notorious camps.

Read about his experiences in Yodok:

Many North Koreans are tortured and sent to the concentration camps without trial, just as Mr. Jeong was.

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

From Hiroshi Kato, Executive Director,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees

 Wishing all of you health and prosperity in the New Year 

It appears that North Korea has succeeded in establishing a three-generation political dynasty. However, the UN has passed resolutions condemning the North’s human rights abuses, calling them grave, widespread, systematic abuses that amount to crimes against humanity. The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution critical of the DPRK with the support of 119 countries.

Public Eye Turning Away from North Korea’s Abuses

Translated From a Recent Issue of the LFNKR Newsletter

Tragedy Awaits Withdrawal from Activities for Human Rights in North Korea

By Ken Kato — ICNK Affiliate-Director, Human Rights in Asia


 

Milgram’s Experiment

TO~ everyone dedicated to maintaining human rights activities for the North Korean people:

Mother’s Day – Sad Day for NK Orphans

NK mothers whom China has repatriated cannot be thanked by their children this Mother’s Day.

Because of Chinese internal politics, any North Koreans including mothers, if caught and arrested, are forcibly shipped back to North Korea, leaving their children behind in China.  LFNKR looks after as many of these children as we can.  Unfortunately, our reach is limited, leaving many more kids with no one to care.   In this video, Kato Hiroshi, LFNKR’s executive director,  explains more about the situation.

Fleeing North Korea Part 1

Takayuki Noguchi

Fleeing North Korea: Southeast Asia
Part 1: The Rescue Mission Begins

By Takayuki Noguchi

(This is the first article in the series “Fleeing North Korea: Southeast Asia” by LFNKR’s Takayuki Noguchi)

On December 10, 2003, I was convicted by the Chinese authorities of traveling with North Korean defectors and sentenced to eight months in prison. The two defectors I was with were also detained and then forcibly repatriated to North Korea. I heard that one of them was tortured and died, and the other was sent to a prison camp for six months. After I was released, I decided to record as much as possible about what had happened. The result was “Fleeing North Korea” (Japanese; published 2010).

LFNKR Exect Kato Interviewed

Emil Truszkowski, a Polish journalist, who is the first subscriber to the LFNKR YouTube site, visited LFNKR office in Tokyo to interview Hiroshi Kato, the executive director.  He has posted the interview at his channel “Welcome to North Korea.”  Truszkowski expressed his wish to help Polish people become aware of the North Korea human rights issue.

LFNKR to participate in NK human rights event

LFNKR board member will join Japan’s NK human rights symposium in NY

On May 5th, 2015, the government of Japan will host the international symposium on human rights violations by North Korea, including their record of abductions.  LFNKR is dispatching a permanent board member to participate in the special event.

UN Receives NK Human Rights Review

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

( Visit UN’s Periodic Review Page )

Submission for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
(NORTH KOREA)

2 Executed, 7 to Prison Camp

9 N.K. Defectors Repatriated
7 Sent to Labor Camp, 2 Executed


An Example of NK’s “Humanitarian” Treatment of Defectors

In June of 2013, we reported on 9 orphans who made it all the way out of North Korea, across China, and into Laos before they were arrested and repatriated to the brutal regime they were trying to escape. (See “World Community Outraged by Orphans Returned to NK“)

Now, news is starting to filter out about what happened to them. The Dong A Ilbo website in South Korea reports that of the nine young escapees, two were executed, and the other seven sent to the infamous Prison Camp 14.

Whitewash Goes to Prison

North Korea Whitewashing
Infamous Prison Camps

Prison Camp Getting a Face Lift

It appears that North Korea may be instituting a new prison reform – in its own strange way.

Reports filtering out of North Korea suggest that political prisoners are secretly being smuggled out of the notorious Yodok prison camp in North Hamgyeong Province, and transferred to other camps under cover of darkness, so that their movements cannot be tracked by satellite cameras.

Open Letter to China’s President

Open Letter to the President of China
June 29, 2014


From Keigoh Tabira, 2nd-Generation “Nagasaki Hibakusha” (Atomic-bomb victim in Nagasaki, Japan)


A personal appeal from one private citizen seeking peace for a just world.

1. Stop ignoring brutal behavior that directly damages China’s own national interests

NK Human Rights Abuses Detailed in UN Report

UN Report on Human Rights Abuses in North Korea

 

UN Lays Open NK Human Rights Abuses

On February 7, 2014 the United Nations released a 36-page report produced by its Commission of Inquiry based upon many hours of eye witness testimony detailing human rights abuses in North Korea. The report is titled “Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”

Camp 14 – Born in NK Political Prison

Documentary on Camp 14 Filmed

Recruiting Volunteers To Expand Film Screenings

A German director has made a documentary film depicting the harrowing life of a young man who was born and raised in a North Korean political prison camp, and is currently living in South Korea after defecting from North Korea.

UN Inquiry Moves Judge to Tears

Witnesses Tell of Gross Cruelty

The chief of a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea was “moved to tears” by witness testimony revealing “gross human rights violations”.

According to BBC reports, retired judge Michael Kirby said that the inquiry had gathered “copious evidence” of rights abuses in North Korea.

LFNKR Submits Report to UN

China’s abuses also highlighted

Last week (October 22) saw China’s second review at the Human Rights Council. Under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the human rights record of each country is reviewed by member states and NGOs. Life Funds for North Korean Refugees was one of only two NGOs to raise China’s human rights abuses vis-a-vis North Korean refugees (the other being Human Rights Without Frontiers).

UN Commission on NK Human Rights Abuses

to Hold Public Hearings in UK And US

Press Release

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA

GENEVA, 17 October 2013 – The United Nations-mandated commission investigating the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will begin next week a series of public hearings in the United Kingdom and the United States aimed at gathering information from witnesses on rights violations alleged to have occurred in the Asian nation.

Watch Streaming Videos of UN Inquiry on NK

Michael Kirby of UN's Commission of Inquiry

UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea held hearings in Seoul Korea from August 20th through 24th, then reconvened in Tokyo to hear from further witnesses related to Japanese citizens impacted by North Korea’s actions. Michael Kirby chaired the Commission. Streaming video lets you hear all testimony.

LFNKR’s Kato Addresses UN Commission

On August 29 and 30, an official Commission of Inquiry (COI) public hearing was held at the UN University in Tokyo. The following speech was presented by Mr. Hiroshi Kato, the executive director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR).

Then, in parallel with the official hearing, three members of the UN Commission of Inquiry quietly visited the LFNKR office to hold a private, closed-door interview. Click here for an outline of the public hearing.

UN Inquiries Revealing Human Rights Horrors

Shin Dong-hyuk addresses UN Commission

Reuters Reports on Revelations

We at LFNKR are glad to report that real results are beginning to flow from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into North Korea human rights violations and whether those violations amount to crimes against humanity. We reported, back in May, that the Commission had been convened and was about to start its investigations. 

Click here for the original article.

16-Year-Old Pens Article on NK Death Camps

North Korea: What it says about you and me
by H.C.

When I was twelve, simply another angst-stricken, preteen lost soul, I discovered the concentration camps of North Korea and the inhumanity of the regime and have carried the grievous burden of having this knowledge and desperately wanting to help but having no way of knowing how or even where to start. Perhaps the most painful lesson of all to learn was that few listen and few care. The first time a child’s pleas for something unselfish are disregarded is the instant in which their innocence is torn away and they become aware of what our world has come to.

9 Repatriated NK Orphans Face Life or Death

9 orphans sent back to NK

Sent Back by Lao Officials

Back in December 2011, a total of 15 defector youths, all of whom had once been Kot-jebi (homeless street kids), got together for a Christmas party in a hidden shelter in Dandong, China. Most look happy in the photo, but just a year and a half later, their fates have split between heaven and hell.

NGOs Send Open Letter to North Korea’s New Leader Kim Jong-un

NGOs hold joint press conference on NK human rights violations

Groups Present a United Front

LFNKR hosted on May 7, 2013 a press conference in the Diet Members’ Building in Tokyo, which was attended by representatives from several other NGOs also engaged in the North Korea human rights issue. The event was covered by journalists from NHK, Kyodo News, Mainichi Newspapers, One Korea Daily News, Mindan (Korean Residents Union in Japan) Newspaper, and The Wall Street Journal.

UN Commission to Investigate NK Human Rights Crimes

The efforts of LFNKR, as a member of the ICNK (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea), have helped lead to establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI), which is now ready to begin its investigation. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution establishing on March 21, 2013 a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the grievous human rights violations in North Korea and to determine whether those violations amount to crimes against humanity. 

YouTube Video – Death Camp Book Scenes

Warning: Extremely Graphic Scenes of Violence

YouTube footage showing scenes from the book about Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So (NK Death Camp) can be viewed at:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=vasmLxi_2Ew The eight-and-a-half minute, un-narrated video shows scenes of such brutality that only those with strong stomachs should watch what is being done to North Koreans every day.

LFNKR in Joint Protest of NK Nuclear Blast

LFNKR, Other NGOs Protest NK's Feb 12 Nuclear Test

Joint Protest Held in Tokyo

North Korea conducted yet another nuclear test blast on Feb. 12. The North Korean regime is obviously escalating its clear threat to international peace and security. In response, on Feb. 13, LFNKR joined other Japanese NGOs that have an interest in North Korean human rights issues in public protests against the nuclear test. The protest was held in front of the Tokyo Headquarters of The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. The General Association functions as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan.

Japan Takes Stand on NK Human Rights

ICNK lauds Japan’s firm stance

In a public statement yesterday, ICNK (The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea), a group of more than 40 leading human rights organizations and activists, welcomed Japan’s strong position in favor of establishing a new United Nations commission of inquiry on serious human rights violations committed by the North Korean Government at home and abroad.

Intern Gains Experience with LFNKR

Japan Members, ICNK (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea)

Report by LFNKR’s Lobbying Intern

Becoming an intern with one phone call

My name is Yuzuru Sakaguchi, and I have been an intern with LFNKR since August 1st. I came to Tokyo from Nagano, and I am currently living on my own in the city. In the summer of my second year of high school I started studying the Korean Peninsula, because I was moved by a sense of wanting to see justice accomplished and that, “something must be done.…” I still vividly remember feeling appalled as I watched exclusive footage of North Korea on television, and even now that sense of wanting justice remains in my heart.

UN Resolution Rips NK

Even Ally China Disapproves

An important human rights committee at the United Nations passed a resolution that condemned the human rights record of North Korea. Also receiving bad marks were Iran and Syria. This year’s vote on North Korea was passed by consensus, and for the first time ever, China, North Korea’s long-time ally, voted in favor.

LFNKR’s 2012 Annual Report

Annual Report Released at 15th General Meeting 10/8/2012

Attending LFNKR’s 15th Annual Meeting in Tokyo this year were five North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan. They talked about how they had managed to survive and how they made a living in North Korea. They also discussed some of the difficulties they endured before finally making it to Japan.

NK Defectors Tell About Death Camp 12

Crane torture

Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So

On February 5, LFNKR hosted a seminar during One World Festival, an annual event held in Osaka, Japan. For the seminar this year, LFNKR invited Mr. Sung-hun Kim, the chief of Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) and three North Korean defectors who have resettled in South Korea.  Each of the three defectors has experienced the nightmare of North Korea’s Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So, a camp well known for its high death rate.

LFNKR Annual Report Released for 2011

Introduction

The new currency system initiated in November 2009 by North Korea has led to serious confusion in the country’s economy. As a result, poverty continues to deepen. Around November 2010, even in Pyongyang where relatively privileged people live, the supply of food has stopped. The currency revaluation slashed the currency to 1/100 of its previous value, but by March 2011, the price of rice per kilogram had risen to 1800 NKW. This is the same price it was before currency reform, and it indicates a complete failure of the government’s plan to suck money from its citizens.

LFNKR Translates White Paper on NK Human Rights

  

LFNKR announces its translation into Japanese of the 410-page “White Paper on Human Rights” published by the Korea Institute for National Unification. This is the first time a Japanese version of the white paper has been available. The paper, originally published in the Korean language in 2010, is a detailed report on human rights issues in North Korea. We believe that the translated version will help more Japanese understand the human rights situation in North Korea.

A Private Citizen’s Letter to Chinese Authorities

Citizens Speak Out  

LFNKR recently acquired a copy of a letter sent to Chinese authorities by one of our readers, a private citizen living in the United Kingdom. This letter clearly outlines some of the more critical issues now facing China and North Korea.

Dear Sir/Madam,

LFNKR Dispatches 2 Members to UN Working Group

LFNKR sends open Letter to Japan's Prime Minister Hatoyama

LFNKR, together with three other human rights groups, has sent a letter of recommendations to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Japan’s policy toward North Korea’s human rights and refugees.

Read the full text of the letter here.

China Denies National ID for Shadow Children

‘Shadow Chidren’ Have No Nationality, Legal Status  

In China, the number of children having no national identity papers continues to rise, particularly in the provinces of Jilin, Heilongjang, and Liaoning where the trend is strongest. These so-called “shadow children,” born to female North Korean defectors and Korean-Chinese or Han-Chinese men, are denied the right to register as real Chinese, which means they have neither identification nor official standing. 

Tokyo Seminar on Refugees and Human Rights in Asia

On March 14, the Tokyo Seminar on Refugees and Human Rights in Asia was held at the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Global Space.

LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) co-hosted the seminar with the Society to Help Returnees to North Korea. Also participating were speakers from Kachin Women’s Association in Thailand, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition Japan, Human Rights Watch Tokyo, and Japan Association for Refugees.

Letter Sent to US Secretary of State

LFNKR has submitted, through the American Embassy in Tokyo, the following letter to the new US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who is visiting Japan from Feb. 16, 2009:

To:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
From:  Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (NPO), Tokyo, Japan
Re:  Human Rights in North Korea

February 10, 2009

Dear Secretary Clinton,

May we congratulate you on your appointment to the post of Secretary of State, a position which is more vital in today’s world than ever before. And we welcome your visit to Japan and hope that your discussions with the Japanese government are fruitful.

Tokyo Bar Association Awards Human Rights Prize to LFNKR

Kato Hiroshi, executive director of LFNKR, speaking at awards event

Kato’s Speech Text

Honored members of the human rights awards screening committee of the Tokyo Bar Association, and ladies and gentlemen gathered here today, I would like to express profound thanks to the esteemed Tokyo Bar Association for presenting the human rights awards for 2008. We at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are deeply honored to receive your award this year.

American Peace Worker Honored in Seoul

Suzanne Scholte Wins Seoul Peace Prize

FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
September 10, 2008

North Korean human-rights abuses often go unnoticed, especially by South Korea, where past governments have preferred to ignore the brutal nature of the Pyongyang regime to the north. The awarding of the Seoul Peace Prize to American Suzanne Scholte last week therefore marks a welcome change.

LFNKR’s Kato Addresses Int’l Conference

Kato Hiroshi Speaks to International Conference

Speakers included: Willy Fautre (Human Rights without Frontiers, President); Vincent Brossel (Reporters without Borders); David Hawk (human rights investigator and advocate and author of “the Hidden Gulag”); Chuck Downs (US Committee for NK HR); and Hiroshi Kato (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees).

Text of Kato Hiroshi’s Speech

It is my privilege and honor to present this speech here at the North Korean Human Rights Campaign 2008

Our main purposes at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are: first, to provide humanitarian aid and protect the human rights of North Korea defectors in China and Southeast Asia; and second, to reach out to people in North Korea with food and medicine.

Out of 100,000 North Korean refugees hiding out in Northeastern China, about 70-100 are under LFNKR’s protection as of July 2008.

In my opinion, the worst form of human rights violation is human trafficking. The number of human trafficking victims is not yet clearly known, but we estimate the number to be more than 70% of all defectors. An investigation conducted in the villages where our shelters are located showed that 10-20% of all villagers are North Korean women who have been sold to Chinese men in the village. Out of 60,000-70,000 women defectors, at least half are of childbearing age.

Babies between Han Chinese and ethnic Koreans will reach 30,000-35,000, most of whom are unregistered.

The youngest victim of human trafficking I have met was 8 years old at the time she was sold. She was brought up in an ethnic Korean family in Heilong City, Jilin Province, but was sold for 1,500 RMB to an ethnic Chinese man at the age of fourteen. She gave birth at the age of 19. After the baby was born, she was sold again by a broker to a different man, and unfortunately I do not know where she is now. Girls being sold by a broker after childbirth are now very common to see.

The price of women varies: usually 5,000-10,000 RMB (approximately $500-1,000 US dollars), for girls up to the age of 20; 3,000-5,000 RMB (or $300-500 US dollars), for up to the age of 30; 2,000-2,500 RMB ($200-250 USD) for up to the age of 40 with a child; and 500-1,000 RMB (or $50-100 US dollars) for children.

However, this year, the price has increased. A woman in her 20s is sold at the price of 20,000 RMB because the number of female North Korean defectors is decreasing. North Korean women seem hesitant to escape the country due to the crackdown operation for the security of the Beijing Olympic Games, as well as forced repatriation that entails serious threats to life upon being returned to North Korea.

The trafficking of North Korean women goes back to 1985 when it was not yet as systematic. It was mere match-making organized by a broker for a rural Chinese man who could not marry in an orthodox way. At that time, the Chinese government welcomed them, and there was neither arrest nor forced repatriation. (But this has now become an organized business-like activity.)

Young women from three provinces in Northeast China that were excluded from China’s open economy reform policy started to move to the Southern China Economic Zone, Japan and Korea to find work. As a result, the female population in these rural areas has decreased considerably. The demand for North Korean women naturally became greater. The role of young North Korean women in replacing ethnic Chinese women was considered significant. The brokers taking advantage of the situation started to appear during this time and it became more organized and business-like.

In the late 1990s, the food rationing system of North Korea collapsed.

North Koreans seeking food started to escape to China, and from 1997 there was a massive influx of people from North Korea into China.

Ethnic Koreans in China provided their starving brethren with food and clothing. However, due to some people trying to take advantage of the goodwill of these ethnic Chinese, and an increased crime rate, the Chinese government started to strengthen the policy concerning North Korea defectors.

In 2000, trafficking of North Korean women became more serious. More women had risked their lives escaping to China and fell into the clutches of brokers. The reports made by staff members in charge of our shelters outlines many of these cases.

The Chinese police, in secret communication with the North Korean National Security Agency, has prosecuted these women who are illegally married to rural Chinese men. If a woman who had a child at the time of marriage is prosecuted, then the child no longer receives any protection and becomes an orphan. The child usually survives by helping with farming, taking care of cows in return for room and board.

The children of North Korean women sold to Chinese men face a bleak future. An infant can choose neither his or her own country nor parents. A mother has no choice but to sell herself.

Because the stay of these women is illegal their children are also stateless. They are not Chinese and not North Koreans either. They have no right to education or anything else. They have no human rights and are staying illegally. These children are languishing in extreme poverty.

Early last year, the mother of 5-year-old Kim Yong-soon was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. Her crime? Leaving the starvation in North Korea and seeking survival in China.

But once this young woman had escaped North Korea six years ago, she was quickly sold into a forced marriage to a Chinese man, and just as quickly became pregnant. This is how she came to give birth to daughter Kim Yong-soon. The daughter, Yong-soon is now being supported under LFNKR’s foster parent program.

Our people, the LFNKR local staff in China, reported to us that it will be impossible for her to return again, since this is her third repatriation.

You know, you have to wonder why it is that Chinese government policies show no mercy to families. They callously tear them apart, separating mothers and children with no regard to human feeling.

In Yanji, Longjin, and other cities near the border between China and North Korea, the two countries have intensified their joint crackdown.

North Korean authorities provide Chinese security police with information on North Korean defectors, and the Chinese police follow up relentlessly. These police personnel are highly motivated — their government is paying high bounties. For each North Korean refugee they arrest, someone puts 2,000 RMB in their pocket. That bounty payment equals the monthly salary of most university graduates in China.

Over the years, human rights NGOs, International organizations and foreign governments have made numerous appeals. They have asked the government of China about this issue of North Korean defectors in China.

The Chinese government has ignored these appeals. In fact, they have never bothered to respond at all, and meanwhile they continue to forcibly return North Korean refugees to face the certainty of brutal persecution in North Korea. This is an obvious and blatant defiance of humanitarianism. The Chinese government clearly has no interest in what the international community thinks.

UNHCR’s appeals to the government of China are always ignored. Beijing has also ignored the appeals of the South Korean government on behalf of aid workers arrested for helping North Korean refugees.

The two lessons to be learned from past incidents are these: first, China responds only to a strong show of force. And second, the last thing that works with the Chinese government is an appeal to humanitarian consideration. China is submissive to the stronger, but shows no mercy to the weaker.

The North Korean defectors are in a position of strength when they are in the custody of foreign embassies and weak if they are outside the custody of a strong power.

I now publicly issue a call to all South Korean activists and North Korean defectors. From this moment forward, I urge you to direct your efforts to collecting evidence, testimony and information that provides full details for the international community in general and the UN Special Rapporteur, in particular.

In addition, we all should take this occasion to acknowledge, with profound thanks, all the efforts that have led to successfully exposing North Korean Crimes against Humanity. We can be proud of the widespread call for justice that was demonstrated by the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in the US Congress, the series of resolutions adopted by the UN, among many others, and the resolution on human rights in DPRK, which the UN General Assembly approved last December.

As a next step, I would like to see the UN Security Council raise the issue of creating an International human rights investigation team to be dispatched to North Korea. I do recognize, however, that the chances of that happening are quite slim with Russia and China on the Council. They are very likely to block any such efforts.

Since North Korea’s crimes are of the most serious nature, we cannot just stop here. I suggest that we approach the International Criminal Court by presenting hard evidence, verified information and solid proof. Obtaining this kind of evidence and proof from inside North Korea is definitely a realistic possibility because, in recent years, many North Korean officials have grown increasingly demoralized as they face mounting personal danger in the ongoing power struggles.

We should redouble our efforts now toward obtaining undeniable and credible information from inside North Korea — information that is so strong and so convincing that it must be taken to the International Criminal Court.

In closing my speech today, and with your permission, I wish to personally call upon the entire international community to intervene decisively in the North Korean situation. It is a matter of international responsibility — clearly so.

Let us, therefore, create a living reality that some day all innocent North Korean prisoners, as well as all South Korean and Japanese abductees, will know for a fact that they were never for a single moment forgotten by the people of the world.

Thank you.

Update on NK-China Border Situation

Pass Permit Issuance Suspended in NK 

In April, the North Korean government stopped issuing pass permits for North Koreans to enter China. Because of this, many North Koreans who have entered China, seem to be staying there even after their pass permits expire. This means that they are now illegal immigrants – defectors – and if arrested, they will be repatriated. As a matter of fact, according to a local LFNKR staff member in China, many North Korean defectors have already been arrested and sent back.

NK Refugees Tell of Stricter Border Security

June 2008

Since its founding in 1998, LFNKR has been supplying food, clothing, and medicines to needy people in North Korea and to North Korean refugees who have fled into China.During the period from April 28 to May 10, 2008, LFNKR supplied through its local network one ton of rice and 80 first aid kits to needy people in North Korea and also to North Korean defectors hiding in China.

Bicycling Campaign Across Europe for NK Rights

Call for Volunteer Participants

LFNKR is joining the bicycling campaign hosted by Justice for North Korea. The campaign is to publicize the North Korean human rights issue and bring it to the attention of Europe. To maximize the impact of this campaign, we are calling for as many participants as possible. Those who wish to ride bicycles may do so, but that is not a requirement. Buses will accompany the riders, so it will be possible to ride bicycles on only selected segments of the route (or only one). Some participants may elect to ride the bus only.

LFNKR’s Kato Speaks Out on Government Policies

On April 2, 2008 in Korea…

Kato Hiroshi, Executive Director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), was invited by Korea Christian University to speak at its international conference. His speech was entitled “International Refugee Policy and Intervention & Training Plans for Specialized Social Workers.” The following is the script of the speech he presented at the conference on April 2, 2008.

LFNKR Protests Nagano Olympic Torch Relay

LFNKR joins protesters at Nagano Olympic Torch Relay

Nagano Japan, April 26:

The Olympic torch relay was carried out under high security as 3,000 policemen stood at high alert. The heavy guard was posted to protect relay runners from intruders throwing raw eggs and tomatoes, but it also kept away interested citizens. Many of those attending were asking “Is this a peace festival? Aren’t the Olympics supposed to be a symbol of peace and friendship?”

Join the North Korean Freedom Week Events

Update from Suzanne Scholte
of North Korea Freedom Coalition

Dear Friends:

I am pleased to send another update on the events confirmed for North Korea Freedom Week April 26-May 3, 2008. 

Please note that since my last update we have added several additional events: another panel session, a special demonstration by Youth for Truth and as a testament to the importance of North Korea Freedom Week, the producer of the soon-to-be-released movie Crossing, Patrick Cheh, is coming to show a special screening of this movie that is scheduled for threatrical release in South Korea in June.  

China Hunting Down Refugees, Aid Workers Ahead of Olympics

Crackdown Intensifying

With the Olympics only months away, Hu Jia, an HIV-rights activist, has been arrested by the Chinese authorities for subversion. According to those involved in the case, on December 27 2007, about 20 police officers served Hu with a warrant at his home in Qufu, Shandong Province, then arrested him. For 30 days after his arrest, his mobile phone was not working.