LFNKR Statement on the 9 Repatriated Orphans

These 9 Orphans Are Only the Latest Outrage

Since 1998, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a Japanese NGO based in Tokyo, has been engaged in the rescue of North Korean refugees suffering from tragic conditions in China and some Southeast Asian countries.

On May 28, a painful incident occurred. A group of 9 North Korean defector orphans were repatriated from the Vientian Immigration center in Laos to North Korea via Beijing. Our years of experience in actual field rescues, along with close observation of the developments in this incident, tell us that this is just another example of shameful neglect of the human rights of North Korean refugees, a neglect that has continued for more than 10 years among the governments involved.

The Lao and Chinese governments have allowed North Korean agents to take the 9 orphans back to North Korea, while being fully aware that the children are almost certain to face harsh punishment in their homeland. This is a crime against humanity that tramples on the spirit of protecting refugees, a widely accepted standard of international society.

Further, it is obvious that this tragedy could easily have been prevented if only the South Korean government had taken quick, appropriate action to save the defectors. SK officials received repeated requests from the pastor who was guiding the group of defectors. The SK government must never forget that they play the most crucial role in helping North Korean defectors. LFNKR strongly urges the South Korean government to immediately improve its system so as to assure that such a tragedy will never be repeated.

LFNKR will continue to work together with domestic and international NGOs questioning the North Korean government to seek the safety of the nine repatriated orphans.

LFNKR has been engaging in activities to help North Korean refugees for 15 years in the cause of human rights and humanity. We strongly hope that this tragedy will bring the light of awareness to more people in the world regarding the plight of North Korean refugees. It is our wish that growing numbers of world citizens will take action and join us in helping any North Korean defectors risking their lives in search of food and freedom.

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR)

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What Other News Outlets Are Saying

BBC Online — UN ‘Dismayed’ over North Korea Refugees
The UN says it is dismayed over reports that China and Laos forcibly repatriated nine young North Korean refugees back home on Tuesday. The organisation said it had received “credible information” that the group were arrested in Laos, then returned to North Korea via China.

Asahi News — UN Fears 9 NK Defectors Sent Home by China
GENEVA–The United Nations has “credible information” that China has returned nine young North Korean defectors to their homeland, where they face possible severe punishment or even execution for having fled, it said on May 31.
Wall Street Journal — Laos Returns Refugees to North Korea
SEOUL—Laos handed over a group of North Korean refugees to Pyongyang this week and rejected criticism it had endangered their lives, saying South Korea was informed of the detentions but made no attempt to help, an assertion a South Korean official disputed.