WHEN: 12:00 NOON, March 1, 2012 WHERE: Embassy of the People's Republic of China, 3505 International Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 WHO: North Korea Freedom Coalition, Korea Freedom Alliance, and Pilgrim Church joined by North Korean defectors who will testify in Congress on Monday WHY: North Korean Refugees face execution if China forces them back to North Korea
(Washington, DC)...A special demonstration was held in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, March 1, to call upon China not to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees back to North Korea where they face execution for fleeing their homeland during the mourning period of Kim Jong-il.
Among those participating were members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, Korea Freedom Alliance and Pilgrim Church, which has become the home church for defectors residing in this area.
The North Korea Freedom Coalition, which has been spearheading protests and demonstrations on behalf of the refugees since 2004, said the demonstration was different than past events to reflect the life or death situation facing these refugees as the Kim Jong-un regime announced that three generations of a family will be executed if one member fled during the mourning period of Kim Jong-il, who died in December. Furthermore, among the refugees arrested were those who have family members who have already escaped to South Korea. The parents of a 19 year old girl were so desperate for their daughter that they appealed to allow her to commit suicide rather than face repatriation to North Korea.
Despite the fact that North Koreans face certain torture, certain imprisonment, and increasingly, execution for fleeing their homeland, China continues to force them back to North Korea in violation of its international treaty obligations. China is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.
Furthermore, unlike any refugees in the world, North Koreans have the ability to be resettled immediately as they are citizens of South Korea under Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic of Korea's constitution.
"There is no reason for China to continue this barbaric, inhumane and cruel policy," said North Korea Freedom Coalition Chairman, Suzanne Scholte. "It is urgent that the international community call upon China to allow these refugees safe passage to South Korea where they can be reunited with their families."
Demonstrators was led by Pastor Hyongshik Sohn and members of Pilgrim Church, which has become a home church for North Koreans who have resettled in the Washington, D.C. area. Members of the Korea Freedom Alliance led by Peter Kang carried a coffin symbolizing the certain death the refugees face in North Korea, while members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition and defectors, who testified in Congress on Monday, also participated.
Congressman Chris Smith and Senator Sherrod Brown have called for an emergency Congressional hearing on Monday, March 5th, of the Congressional-Executive Commission in China to address the issue.
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