Organized by the North Korea Freedom Coalition In Solidarity with the Hong Kong Freedom Fighters Activists Worldwide Call on Xi Jinping: Stop Repatriating North Koreans
Thank you to all of you who took part in the annual Save North Korean Refugees Day to appeal to Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China to stop his brutal, inhuman and illegal treatment of North Korean men, women and children. It is an indisputable that North Koreans forced back to North Korea by China’s policy suffer torture, imprisonment, and even execution. We are so thankful to the folks highlighted in this report who would not remain silent but took time to participate in Save North Korea Refugees Day.
A few observations for this year: the PRC was very well aware of our efforts. There was a reported increase of Chinese security presence. It appears that at many embassies the Chinese hired additional private security which may have resulted with our plans to show solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters and sing the song Sing Hallelujah to the Lord. NKFC members in Pretoria reported that they were specifically told they could not sing! NKFC members in Washington, D.C. were also met for the first time by a security guard who prevented them from approaching the embassy to deliver the petition –but they preceded with the vigil and sang anyway. The most heavily reported push back was in Malawi where NKFC members reported that they were prevented from taking a photo or recording their demonstration, but they did succeed in delivering the petition and singing in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters.
Second, the commitment to be a voice for the North Korean refugees was very strong and NKFC members in Puerto Rico were so determined to deliver their appeals before tropical storm Karen hit their island, they sent their appeals the night before. They wanted to be sure the PRC consulate got their appeals before they lost electricity which did happen as a result of the storm.
Third, there were many NKFC members praying for all of us – we got a lot of emails from people who felt called to set aside time to pray and fast for North Korean refugees and for what we were doing that day of September 24th. We have included some examples in this report.
And finally, now a confession: the horrific treatment of North Korean refugees is worse than ever before, and I sometimes wonder do these events really matter? Are we making a difference?
Then, I remember two female defectors who had been victims of trafficking and a humanitarian worker who had been in jail in China. All three shared with me that they had thought about suicide, but they heard about these protests against China and they knew: I am not forgotten and it gave them the will to survive. NKFC Vice Chairman Rabbi Cooper once told me that we had to keep doing these protests. We must continue to speak out because silence is acquiescence. We know that silence is death for North Koreans. So, here’s a report from your colleagues and friends from around the world who would not remain silent.
Acta Non Verba,
Chair, North Korea Freedom Coalition
Kyung B. Lee of the Council for Human Rights in North Korea
Kyung B Lee and the Council for Human Rights in North Korea ensured delivery of the letter of appeal from their NGO to the PRC embassy in Toronto. Pictured below left are his colleagues with both Canada and South Korean flags as they delivered their appeal to Xi Jinping.
Mikko Heikkonen successfully delivered the NKFC appeal to the PRC Embassy in Helsinki and got a picture to share!
Aunt “D” who has to remain anonymous because of work her family does in China reported from Paris that she successfully delivered appeal to the PRC embassy in Paris: “I was at the (PRC) embassy right when it opened, 9h30, the security begrudgingly let me through to the ‘welcome’ desk where their person accepted the letter with hesitation. By the time I got through the security there was literally no one there in that hall (other than the person at the desk) to ask to get a picture of me handing it over. So sorry! But, the letter was given in and — hopefully — didn’t get put into File 13 …”
Kato Hiroshi and Shioe Okamura of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees – LFNKR
Kato Hiroshi and Shioe Okamura of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees successfully delivered their appeals from their NGO to the PRC embassy in Tokyo AND to the PRC consulates in Nagasaki, Osaka, Sapporo, and Fukuoka.
Dr. Jones Chamangwana of Reach out Malawi
Dr. Jones Chamangwana of Reach Out Malawi partnered with the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) to host a demonstration, rally and prayer vigil for Save North Korean Refugees Day. He reported: “More than hundred protesters gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday, September 24th Save North Korean Refugees Day to submit a petition to H.E. Liu Hongyang, the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi where we sang the song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”. The petition has been delivered amidst heavy presence of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers. Riot police vehicles and Police officers in full combat gear were also seen all over at the Chinese Embassy. Upon arrival at the Chinese Embassy Police officer stopped people who were taking pictures with their cell phones as part of their security.”
Teresa Ost of the NKFC
Teresa Ost ensured that the appeal was delivered to the PRC embassy in Mexico City and recruited Andrés Bello to do the hand delivery in Mexico City.
Adriene Monster and Mirjam Boss of Jubilee Campaign
Schrijfactie: Red Noord-Koreaanse vluchtelingen!
Reporting from the Netherlands, Arienne Monster and Mirjam Boss of Jubilee Campaign The Netherlands not only delivered a letter from their NGO but they also launched an online letter writing campaign from citizens of the Netherlands to send their own individual letters. At last count their campaign had at least 161 individual appeals sent to Xi Jinping in care of the PRC Embassy in The Hague.
Jubilee Campaign the Netherlands’ on line petition resulted in 161 appeals to PRC Embassy in Hague
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Hansaem Lee, Tae hoon Kim, Hanbyun, PSCORE and Free North Korea Radio
Seoul: Hansaem Lee, who helped coordinate action in Seoul, wrote from Seoul: Save North Korean Refugees Day “was so meaningful a day for me..I will continue to work hard to let people know about this issue!” The events in Seoul included a demonstration in front of the PRC Embassy in Seoul and the reading and delivery of their statement. Joining in support were Kim Tae Hoon of Hanbyun, activists from PSCORE and North Korean defectors who had suffered from forced repatriation including the staff of Free North Korea Radio. Their action was reported by VOA Korean service at these links: https://youtu.be/as1waseTTA4 and https://www.voakorea.com/a/5096695.html
They also posted their own video produced and uploaded by Yeom Hyun-chul on YouTube
Busan: The sun shown brightly on the demonstration that Bae Kwang-min and Free North Korea Radio organized in front to the PRC consulate in Busan.
Gallous Asong Atabongwoung
Good day from South Africa!
Gallous Asong Atabongwoung once again led efforts in South Arica. In addition to hand delivering a letter to the PRC Embassy in Pretoria , he also ensured that appeals were also sent to the Chinese consulate generals in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. He reported: “It is important for me to highlight that the Chinese government is aware of our activity in Pretoria. We were confronted by a 24/24 security service at the gate. The two entrances were closed. The security said we cannot sing and only allowed a few of us to walk to the gate to hand the petition to the security personnel who took it inside to the staff working at the embassy.”
Jihyun Park of Connect North Korea and Chloe and Kiri at CSW-UK
A lot was happening in the United Kingdom that day as several activities occurred. North Korean escapee Jihyun Park, who serves as the Outreach Officer at Connect North Korea, organized letters of petition from UK Citizens that she hand delivered to the PRC Embassy in London along with her own personal appeal. As a victim of forceful repatriation, she was able to personally attest to the horrors that face defectors when they are forced back to North Korea as she herself was imprisoned.
London activities led by Jihyun Park
In addition Chloe and Kiri Kankhwende of CSW-UK worked to raise awareness of the North Korean refugee issue by launching a social media campaign. CSW-UK tweeted information about the horrors that North Korean refugees face in China and included information how to contact the PRC embassy in London with an example appeal to send.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Chicago: The NKFC letter of petition was successfully delivered by two NKFC members in Illinois who have to remain anonymous due to their work. In addition, Sarah Wilson continued to generate many prayers for North Korea and for all of us involved in SNKRD. She wrote what she describes as “her little village in Central Illinois: More than anything right now, after a change of heart in China, I long for the truth of the evils being committed to be openly revealed and understood among the public at large. It continues to distress me that the political talk still centers around nuclear and military concerns. I do truly believe that if the magnitude of gross suffering in the prison camps was FULLY known publicly… so much more could be done.“
Additional action aimed at targeting the Chicago PRC consulate also occurred in Traverse City:
Traverse City: Sally Jo Messersmith wrote: The prayers and actions of everyone around the world are powerful. She once again set aside a day of praying and fasting for the refugees as well as a prayer time at the Korean War Memorial in Traverse City AND sent letters to the PRC consulate in Chicago appealing for the North Korean refugees.
Houston: Bro. Adalberto Santiago and colleagues with the International Christian Embassy in Puerto Rico successfully delivered appeals to the PRC’s consulate in Houston – a day early – because of the pending storm. They were so determined to deliver their appeals before tropical storm Karen hit their island, they sent their appeals the night before Save North Korean Refugees Day. They wanted to be sure the PRC consulate got their appeals before they lost electricity which did happen as a result of the storm. In addition, they sent appeals to the president of the Senate and House in Puerto Rico, their Members in the U.S. Congress, and the State Department’s Office of International Cooperation asking for their help in pressuring China to end their repatriation policy.
San Francisco: Pastor Wally of Christians in Crisis ensured that the PRC consulate there received the appeal in San Francisco.
Los Angeles: Pastor Kim Yong Koo of NKIA once again led efforts hand delivering an appeal and demonstrating in front of the PRC consulate in Los Angeles.
New York: Kris Han once again used SNKRD as a way to raise social awareness about the North Korea refugees. She used twitter to encourage folks to send appeals to the Chinese PRC consulate in New York City providing them with the contact information.
Washington, DC: The North Korea Freedom Coalition members led efforts in Washington DC that included a demonstration at the Chinese Central TV station, a protest and candlelight vigil at the Chinese Embassy. In solidarity to the Hong Kong protestors, NKFC members sang Hallelujah to the Lord at both the CCTV and the PRC Embassy.
At the CCTV, Dr. Yang Jianli , survior of the Tianamen Square massacre and leader of Citizens Power Initiatives for China, came to give the NKFC members words of encouragement.
NKFC members also dressed in solidarity as Hong Kong protestors: Mark Bell and Margaret Wu; as Xi Jinping as the Grim Reaper: James Gore, and as poor Winnie the Pooh, who has been banned in China: Allie and Violet List.
At the Candlelight Vigil, NKFC members Sekwon Chong, Deanna List, Hung Ju Yu, James Gore, Young Kim, Shawn McCarty, Antonio Cho, Wendy Wright, Ok Cha Soh, Alana Johnson, Paul Cho and Suzanne Scholte took turns reading aloud THE LIST in Korean and English of all the incidences that are known of refugees from North Korea being forcefully repatriated by China to North Korea. We are grateful to Youna Oh for keep THE LIST updated for us.
Special thanks to Peter Kang for being there and for Margaret Wu and Ok Cha Soh for leading us in the singing. We are also very grateful to Kenji Sawai for taking video and photographs for us and to Jaechul Ahn for live streaming the events in DC on facebook which over 1000 watched.
Some sample media coverage of DC SNKRD: