Dear Mr. President:
We are deeply thankful that today, September 24, marks the anniversary of the date in 1982, when the People’s Republic of China became a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. By signing this agreement, your nation showed its concern for refugees and displayed great leadership. We are writing today to appeal to your government to consider the plight of those refugees coming into China from North Korea and to ask that you provide them safe passage to a third country and not send them back to North Korea.
We understand and respect China’s concerns about its border and about the influx of refugees illegally entering China as they flee starvation and deprivation in North Korea. As more and more nations become aware of this difficult situation, it is important for these nations to work with your government to help resolve this refugee crisis in a way that fulfills the goals of the Convention and Protocol.
Unlike any refugee crisis in the world today, the North Korean refugees have a place to go for immediate resettlement as they are citizens of South Korea, under Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic of Korea Constitution. Furthermore, the United States as well as other countries have shown a willingness to accept these refugees for resettlement. There is no reason for them to remain a burden and concern for China and face the threat of repatriation to North Korea where they will most certainly be tortured and imprisoned, and in some cases, executed for fleeing their country.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC) can help China quickly and safely resettle these refugees, and we are asking our government to do more to facilitate resettlement.
We believe working together with the international community and the UNHCR that China can resolve this crisis quickly and safely.
With this letter we are including Justice Michael Kirby’s letter on behalf of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which cites the findings that
1) DPRK citizens who cross the border into China do so owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted;
2) Those forcibly repatriated are subjected to torture and arbitrary detention and in some instances rape, enforced disappearances, summary execution and other gross human rights violations;
3) There are reasonable ground for believing that Chinese officials have in some cases shared with DPRK authorities information which further aggravates the risk for these repatriated DPRK nationals and that China is allowing DPRK agents to operate on Chinese territory and even abduct DPRK citizens and at least one ROK national;
4) Many North Korean women are being trafficked into forced marriages and in some instances commercial sexual exploitation; and
5) Estimates of “stateless” children in China (children of Chinese fathers and North Korean mothers) ranges from 10,000 to 25,000.
These findings could immediately be addressed if China simply followed its international treaty obligations.