Photographs of the nine North Korean orphans forcibly repatriated to North Korea in May 2013 were placed on the front door step of the Embassy of the Laos People's Democratic Republic in Washington, D.C. by members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2013
LAOTIAN GOVERNMENT CALLED TO PROTECT NINE NORTH KOREAN CHILDREN THEY FORCED BACK TO NORTH KOREA
(Washington, DC.)....Representatives of the North
Korea Freedom Coalition will hand deliver a letter to the Embassy of the
Laos People's Democratic Republic (2222 S. Street, NW, Washington, DC.
20008) at 2 pm on Wednesday, June 5, 2013,
calling upon that government to protect the lives of the nine North
Koreans the Laotian authorities forced back to North Korea last week.
"We sent this same letter on Monday requesting to
meet with the Laotian Ambassador to point out the facts of this incident
which are 1) these
nine young people ranging in age from teenagers to young adults were
seeking resettlement to the Republic of Korea, and 2) that the Republic
of Korea had made it clear to the Laotian authorities that they were
willing to accept all nine children for resettlement," said NKFC
Chairman Suzanne Scholte. "It is also universally known and recognized
that North Koreans who have fled their country, as these nine had done,
face torture, imprisonment, and even execution when they are forced back
to North Korea."
that the nine were the remaining ones from a group of sixteen who had
been sheltered and cared for by a South Korean missionary, MJ, and his
wife since early 2010. MJ had successfully rescued four to South Korea
and three to the United States over the past year.
NKFC wrote to
President Lt. Gen. Choummali Saignason, “Because the lives of the nine
young people rests in your hands because of the decision that was made,
we make this simple request: that the Laos People’s Democratic Republic
perform regular visits to these nine children in North Korea, so that
you can guarantee they have been welcomed on their return, treated
properly, and their rights have been protected and that you share that
information with the Republic of Korea who had requested to care for
these nine young people.”
further requested Laos “never again put the lives of North Korean men,
women and children at risk by forcing them back to North Korea and that
you instead return to your previous policy to work on their resettlement
to the Republic of Korea, where they have automatic citizenship under
the Republic of Korea’s constitution.”
In the past, Laos authorities
have allowed North Korean refugees to resettle to South Korea and even
the United States. Free North Korea Radio, a defectors run radio station
based in Seoul, has reported that there was a direct order from Kim
Jong Un to force the escapees back to North Korea and that they are
currently being held in solitary confinement near Sunan airport.
Attached is the letter that was sent to the Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic on Monday morning.
Also, attached is an appeal to
U.S. President Barack Obama to raise this issue during his meeting with
Xi Jinping later this week.