NK Refugee Park Yong-chol Repatriated

NK Defectors Still Being Denied Right to Live

We were shocked to learn a few months ago that Choi Yong (male), a Japan-born North Korean, was executed after being repatriated. He was one of the two Japan-born North Koreans whom Takayuki Noguchi (of our organization) tried to help escape from China in December last year.

And now another shock. We just learned that North Korean refugee Park Yong-chol was secretly repatriated from the Chinese prison to North Korea in October this year. He had been arrested in the Yantai Boatpeople incident in January 2003 and sentenced to 2 years in prison.

This information comes via Kim Bong-soon, the wife of Choi Yong-hun, who visited her imprisoned husband with a support group on Dec. 12. Park Yong-chol, had been arrested along with Choi Yong- hun (a South Korean humanitarian aid worker), and they have been detained at the same Wei Fang prison, Shan Dong Province, China.

Park Yong-chol was convinced that he would face execution if sent back to North Korea. This is why Choi Yong-hun had repeatedly asked our organization, LFNKR, through his wife, to work hard to block Park’s repatriation. We in LFNKR have continued our appeal activities to prevent his repatriation and also to effect an early release for Choi Yong-hun, who is currently serving a 5-year sentence.

This case has attracted the attention and support of people in international NGOs, governmental organizations in the EU, the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as several other countries. Despite all these efforts, China repatriated Park Yong-chol anyway, which bitterly shocked and disappointed us.

We can only imagine how traumatic this must be for Choi Yong-hun. He was even more discouraged recently to learn that none of the 600 letters he has written to family and friends ever even left the prison.

International society needs to intensify its efforts urging the Chinese government to change its recent policy, a policy that is obviously several steps backward from the urgent demands to improve protection and aid for North Korean refugees. At the same time, the South Korean government is also strongly requested to take an active role in helping them.

International society must speak louder and more forcefully until the Chinese government hears. We urge everyone, please join the International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of the North Korean Refugees. Whether you are an individual or an organization, if you wish to be a part of the scheduled protest rally, go to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your city at 11:00 AM on Dec. 22.

Special Note:
The rally in Los Angeles, California—only—will be held at 2:30 PM.)

For more information about the scheduled protest, go to
http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/protest-12-22-04.htm

Warmest regards from Japan,
Kato Hiroshi
Secretary General

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101 Nishi Kata Hyteru
2-2-8 Nishi Kata, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, Japan 113-0024
Tel / Fax +81-3-3815-8127