to See Noguchi in Jail
Ever since Takayuki Noguchi was arrested illegally by
China in early December 2003, fears have mounted that
he could be tried and sentenced to prison time, unlike previous
aid workers who had been caught helping North Korean refugees,
interrogated then released.
thanks to the intervention of Japan's Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Noguchi's mother and one of his aunts were allowed to
visit him briefly in Nanning.
For Press Conference Jan. 19, 2004
we reported at the previous press conference on
Jan. 13, Mr. Takayuki Noguchi (32), a member of the Japanese NGO
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), has been detained
by Chinese authorities since December 10, 2003 in Nanning, Guangxi
in China, together with the two North Korean defectors who were
born in Japan. On January 16, the Chinese authorities are reported
to have officially charged Noguchi and arrested him.
we were delighted to learn on January 16 of the release
of the female interpreter (Chinese-Korean, 29) who was with Noguchi
and the two defectors when they were captured on December 10.
person in charge of this incident at the Japanese Ministry
of Foreign Affairs told LFNKR that Noguchi had broken Chinese domestic
laws, so that he was guilty of committing a crime in China. LFNKR
must clearly state again that China is signatory to the Refugees
Convention, an international law which takes precedence over national
laws, and that China, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged
to observe the international law.
cannot accept the attitude of the Japanese Ministry of
Foreign Affairs who appear to be taking the Chinese side. It is
China who has consistently broken international law, which supercedes
their domestic laws. China has officially accepted this principle
(Report on China #8211; HRI/CORE/1/Add21/Rev.2, 11 June 2001, “pacta
sunt servanda” CAT/C/SR419, 12 May 2000).
strongly urge the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to step up their efforts to gain the release of the two Japanese-born
North Korean defectors and Mr. Noguchi.
and aunt visited Noguchi at Nanning Prison
January 17 (Saturday), Noguchi Takayuki’s mother
and an aunt visited Nanning Prison where, at 3:00 PM, they were
allowed to talk with him for 30 minutes. They sat at a round table
in what looked like a conference room at Nanning Prison. His mother
was given 20 minutes and the aunt was allowed 10 minutes to talk
with him in the presence of two uniformed prison officers and one
interpreter specializing in Japanese and Chinese. The Japanese consul
had intended to join the discussions, but was not allowed. The entire
meeting was very likely videotaped by a monitoring camera installed
in the room.
mother said he seemed to be in fair health, although he
appeared to have lost weight and looked a bit pale, probably because
he gets no sunshine. She was relieved to find her son was wearing
a T-shirt and ordinary pants rather than a prison uniform. He told
her that he gets two meals a day at irregular times. He shares the
same cell with three other prisoners. She found that the package
sent to him by express courier service, which included clothing
and books, had never been passed along to him. His mother carried
clothing, books and etc. with her, but she is unsure whether they
would really be handed to her son. She was not allowed to hand them
directly to him.
Noguchi plainly stated to his mother again that he is sorry
to have caused trouble for so many people. But his return to Japan
without the two defectors would be meaningless, he said, if their
lives ended up in jeopardy because he failed to secure their safe
release to Japan.
determination represents the motivation of all LFNKR members.
While we are fully aware of the risk, we cannot ignore the refugees
who cry out “Please help us; we don’t want to die.”
We firmly believe that Noguchi’s courageous efforts to help
them is in harmony with the spirit of the Refugees Convention. He
should not be arrested or persecuted like this. He is in no way
order to urge immediate release of the two North Korean
defectors and Noguchi, our group, LFNKR, is launching two activities:
Dispatch a member to as many people and places as possible
to widely announce that the arrest and detention is illegal. The
people and places include Japanese parliamentarians, district councils,
domestic and overseas NGOs, Euro-parliamentarians, UNHCR offices,
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Olympic Committees, and other
Olympic-related sports federations.
Letter campaign urging people worldwide to send petitions
to Chinese authorities, urging them to humane action and release
of the three.
Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024