NK Refugee Killed by Chinese Border Guard

Chinese border guard on horseback fired on unarmed NK refugees

Reports have reached our organization that a 20-year-old North Korean defector was shot and killed on 2 April when a group of 24 defectors were stopped while attempting to cross the border from China into Mongolia.

Six members of the group, all men, succeeded in reaching Mongolia. The 17 defectors arrested include a 2-year-old child and a woman six months pregnant. The defectors have begun a hunger strike, insisting on relocation to a third country.

A South Korean government official was told on 16 April that the Chinese authorities were attempting to arrest the 24 North Korean defectors, and when one man in his twenties tried to seize a weapon, he was shot and subsequently died at hospital while undergoing treatment.

LFNKR is pleased to learn that the Chinese government has expressed willingness to send the 17 defectors to South Korea if they wish. However, we were shocked by the fact that a well-armed Chinese border guard on horseback actually shot an unarmed North Korean refugee who was trying to leave China to seek freedom. We consider the act of the border guard inhumane and inexcusable.

LFNKR has repeatedly reminded China that it is signatory to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951. In fact, on 12 December 2001, in Geneva, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya of China declared at the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1951 Convention that this landmark international law is the “Magna Carta” of refugee law, and that it is a candle light of hope in the dark for the helpless refugees. Further, he stated that the Convention serves as a guide to people who are engaged in humanitarian work of protecting and assisting refugees.

There is much evidence, such as the resolution on North Korea passed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on 15 April this year, indicating that the North Koreans fleeing their own country deserve to qualify for refugee status. The resolution raises serious concerns over human rights and, most significantly, it establishes a UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea.

Refer to the full text of the 15 April UNCHR Resolution athttp://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/un-resolution1.pdf

LFNKR strongly urges China to review and improve its current policy toward North Korean refugees so that it can live up to the Refugee Convention and observe the spirit of the Olympics when it serves as the host country for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

LFNKR believes that the recent resolution on North Korea adopted by UNCHR further strengthens the international framework under which official refugee status may be afforded North Korean refugees.

However, we are not there yet. We urge everyone with an interest in this issue to redouble your efforts to help win protection of these forsaken people.

Report submitted by Kenkichi Nakadaira
Board Chairman