Save North Korean Refugees Day 2021 Acknowledgements

Dear Friends

Please find attached the acknowledgements to those who participated in last month’s Save North Korean Refugees Day 2021.

Despite everything going on in the world these days, I am ever more optimistic and hopeful our petitions and appeals will be heard thanks to the people listed in this report who have continued to speak out on behalf of the North Korean refugees wherever they are in the world.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Acta Non Verba,



Suzanne

North Korea Freedom Week 2021 Acknowledgements

Dear Friends: 

On behalf of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, it is my great honor and pleasure to provide you the full report on the 18th annual North Korea Freedom Week whose theme this year was “Open! North Korea: Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Borders.”  Please find attached the acknowledgements of the many folks and many organizations that participated to make the week a huge success so that we could accomplish our objective: rejuvenate and inspire the defector community in the Republic of Korea, who are living under an oppressive atmosphere, AND gain valuable insight from them about what is happening in North Korea.  We set out to inspire the North Koreans and they ended up inspiring us with the amazing information they are getting out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and by their pledge to re-commit themselves to the freedom of their homeland and the human rights and dignity of the North Korean people.  Just a few links and highlights for you below, but PLEASE check out the full attached report which includes the opening ceremony, prayer vigil, visit to the ROK embassy, day of prayer and fasting, etc. and all those who participated this year especially the North Korean eyewitnesses. 

Volunteer members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition made both video and written transcripts for you of the main NGO events in both English and Korean – so you can read or watch the powerful sessions that were held during North Korea Freedom Week 2021.  Special thanks goes to Jason West who helped with the technical platform, so that we could all be together virtually during the NKFW panel sessions and the North Korea Freedom Coalition meeting, which was open to the public for the first time.  Thank you to the Defense Forum Foundation, Katrina Lantos Swett and the Tom Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, Wendy Wright and Christian Freedom International, Dr. Pavel Klein and the Isabella Foundation, and Seung-il Shin for donating to cover the platform costs.  Katrina and I also serve as officers with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, whose Executive Director, Greg Scarlatiou, provided inspiring remarks for the opening Ceremony along with other distinguished NGO leaders. Thank you also to Jason for helping prepare the videos and transcripts and to our wonderful translators and volunteers Helen Park, BJ Choi, Teresa Ost, and Johnny Park for helping create English and Korean transcripts of the following NGO panels: 

Open Hearts: hosted by Nick Eberstadt and Olivia Schieber of the American Enterprise Institute, with Colonel David Maxwell of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies:
https://www.nkfw.org/history/2021/open-hearts

Open Minds: hosted by Bruce Klingner and Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation:
https://www.nkfw.org/history/2021/open-minds

Open Borders
: hosted by Dr. Pavel Klein of the Isabella Foundation:
https://www.nkfw.org/history/2021/open-borders

We are also very grateful to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken for the very powerful statement that was made by the U.S. State Department to recognize North Korea Freedom Week on the anniversary of the first North Korea Freedom Day:

https://www.state.gov/on-the-occasion-of-north-korea-freedom-week/

Also, you will love this video: Anna Yang took excerpts from the messages from Members of the US Congress that were broadcast on Free North Korea Radio for this year’s Seollal Holiday and produced a special video with the background music Edelweiss (Bless my homeland, forever!) that was played at the opening ceremony.  The North Korean defectors were so moved by this video showing how much Americans care about the people of North Korea, that they copied it onto flash drives and have been sending it secretly by various means into North Korea since last month:

Now, on a very sad note, since North Korea Freedom Week, members of the South Korean military intercepted some of these flash drives and — because of the new law in South Korea banning information to North Korea — turned them over to the South Korean police which have launched an investigation into the defectors who sent the messages.  So, we will see if defectors get fined and jailed for sending powerful, inspiring and hopeful messages by U.S. lawmakers to the people of North Korea.  Did I mention the “oppressive atmosphere” in South Korea?  Oh yes, I did.

Please be inspired by the attached report as we work to open the hearts and minds of the people of North Korea with truth and long for the time when the borders will be open.  Also, finally note the next meeting of the North Korea Freedom Coalition will be Thursday, July 29th 7 pm EST — if you are not a member yet, you can join here.

Acta Non Verba,



Suzanne

North Korea Freedom Week is Next Week!

Please Join Us for the 18th Annual North Korea Freedom Week 2021

OPEN! NORTH KOREA… Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Borders

Dear Friends:

I am pleased to invite you to join the 18th Annual North Korea Freedom Week which will be held April 25 – May lst, 2021/(April 24-30 for DC Scheduling).  Details below include the links to participate in events during that week for and with North Korean escapees.  Translation will be provided for all NGO sponsored events.

Sunday, April 25 (Saturday night in USA) and Monday (Sunday in USA) opening prayer service and opening day in Seoul which folks in the USA will be able to watch virtually.

Remember those of you sending virtual messages of encouragement,  we will need them by close of business this Thursday, to translate and prepare for our friends in Korea.

Monday, April 26, 5-7 pm EST (Tuesday, April 27 6-8 am in Seoul): Discussing the theme of Open hearts…will be Nicholas Eberstadt and Olivia Schieber of the American Enterprise Institute who are hosting several high ranking North Korean escapees for a discussion of the human rights situation in North Korea…and the human rights situation in South Korea.  They will be joined by David Maxwell of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  Topics to be explored will be ways to reach the elites in power to open their hearts to the truth and why that has become more difficult under the current government in South Korea. To register for AEI’s Event Open Hearts visit:https://www.nkfw.org/registration/open-hearts.

Wednesday, April 28:   April 28th is the anniversary of the first North Korea Freedom Day, and thus once again we will set aside an International Day of Prayer and Fasting for North Korea’s FREEDOM.  Alana Johnson is compiling powerful prayers that will be posted for all online who want to join us in prayer that day.  Anna Yang has created this website where you can sign up now to join at https://www.april28.org.

Wednesday, April 28th: 5-7 pm EST (Thursday, April 29 6-8 am in Seoul): Discussing the theme of Open minds…will be Bruce Klingner and Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation who will host two panel sessions: one with North Korean escapees explaining what led them to escape, ie. what opened their minds to the outside world, was it K-pop, movies, radio broadcasting, soap operas, leaflets, and then a second session will feature North Korea defector NGO leaders who have been leading efforts to open more minds by getting information into North Korea through brilliant methods utilizing the land, the sea and the air.  To register for the Heritage Foundation’s Event Open Minds visit: https://www.nkfw.org/registration/open-minds.

Wednesday, April 28: 7-9 pm EST (Thursday, April 29 8-10 AM in Seoul ): Discussing the theme of Open borders…will be Dr. Pavel Klein of the Isabella Foundation who will host a session on the current state of the vulnerable population especially children in North Korea and how can humanitarian assistance be provided to address this population.  North Korean escapees will address those issues as well as explore ways to open borders so that divided families can reunite and be in communication with each other.  To register for the Isabella Foundation’s Event Open Borders visit: 
https://www.nkfw.org/registration/open-borders.

Thursday, April 29 7-9 pm EST (Friday, April 30 8-10 am in Seoul): For the first time ever, the North Korea Freedom Coalition will open its regular meeting to the general public for a free for all exchange on action items going forward for the freedom, human rights and dignity of the North Korean people, as the NKFC’s motto is Acta Non Verba.  We will hear from the top leaders among the defectors working for peaceful regime change and ways that we can work to save the lives of North Korean refugees currently in peril. 

Friday, April 30, 12 noon EST On Friday there will be a closing ceremony (Saturday morning in Seoul), so for those of us in Washington, D.C. area, the North Korea Freedom Coalition will organize a peaceful vigil at 12:00 noon on Friday, April 30 to focus on the lives of the North Korean refugees currently detained in China and the two women recently given back to their abusers.  As noted previously, we usually demonstrate at the PRC embassy, but things are different right now: these North Koreans would be in South Korea right now if Moon would act.  So, we plan to assemble at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea this time and peacefully and respectfully ask for action on their behalf. To join the A team and take a stand for these refugees, email me.

Please join us for NKFW 2021 whenever you can from wherever you are.

Acta Non Verba,


Suzanne Scholte
Seoul Peace Prize Laureate
President, Defense Forum Foundation
Chair, North Korea Freedom Coalition

“Mr. President, You Did Nothing”

한국어

March 31, 2021

The Chosun Ilbo

Dear Mr. President: In October of last year, I wrote an open letter to you published by Chosun Ilbo on October 21, 2020, appealing for urgent help to save the lives of North Korean women, men and children currently detained in China’s detention centers. I was appealing to you to do something that every previous South Korean president including Dae Jung Kim has done since the North Korean refugee crisis began: save Koreans from certain torture, certain imprisonment and possible death.  I pointed out that it was a “golden opportunity” for you to do this because Kim Jong un’s fear of COVID had led the regime to close its border and refuse to accept North Koreans that China wants to forcefully repatriate back to face certain horror. It was a great opportunity for you to ask President Xi Jinping to show humanitarian compassion and allow them safe passage to the Republic of Korea, thus relieving the burden on China. 

But you did nothing.

Then, that appeal was followed up by letter sent to you on November 2, 2020, signed by twenty former U.S. government officials representing every U.S. Presidency since Richard Nixon who wrote: We urge your administration to seize the moment to reach out to the People’s Republic of China, as South Korean administrations have quietly and very successfully done in the past, to ask for humanitarian consideration for the North Korean women, men, and children currently detained in the PRC and request they be allowed safe passage to the Republic of Korea or a third country.”

Believing you would do the right thing, that November 2, 2020, letter was not released publicly. 

But you did nothing. 

Now, I learned today that two young beautiful Korean women held in Chinese detention centers since September 2020, have been released — not to South Korean authorities, which they had requested, but to their abusers. The Chinese police gave them back into the hands of the Chinese men who had bought them, as they were victims of human trafficking. Thus, because of your inaction, they were released into the hands of those who had enslaved and abused them.

They just wanted to go to South Korea and no longer be slaves.

All you needed to do was to ask that these Korean women be released to South Korean authorities. 

This happened because you did nothing. 

You turned your back on these two women and hundreds of others, but will you continue to do this for those still being detained in China? Among the group still in detention are Christians and those trying to reunite with family in South Korea, two crimes punishable by death in North Korea. Thus, they face execution if Chinese authorities force them back to North Korea.

I understand that you are Catholic. If you will not consider these requests for help for these North Korean refugees currently detained, would you at least consider Proverbs 24:11-12– Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this, ‘does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?– which clearly calls on you to rescue those being led away to death and cautions you as well that if you knew and did nothing, you will be repaid for what they have done. As I wrote before, because your family was rescued (during the Korean War), you had the great opportunity to be able to choose your own path and thrive in the Republic of Korea to be elected to its most important political office, President. Now, you are the person with the most authority in the world to act to protect the lives of these refugees and make it possible for them to have the same opportunities. 

There is still time. Please act. You know fully well that Hanawon has lots of room to accommodate these women, men, and children. 

Suzanne Scholte

This article was originally published in Korean by The Chosun Ilbo.

Continue reading ““Mr. President, You Did Nothing””

UN CSW Event: Empower the Women Who Sustained North Korea

The North Korea Freedom Coalition has featured North Korean women speakers at the UN CSW for the past six years. This year, we will bring three speakers from around the world to discuss their experiences in and escape from North Korea. In addition, each speaker will discuss their experiences resettling in their respective countries, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Finally, they will give their recommendations on how you can empower the women of North Korea.

Witnesses

Jihyun Park
Witness from the United Kingdom

Deborah*
Witness from the United States 

Jade*
Witness from South Korea

Moderators

Suzanne Scholte
Chairman, North Korea Freedom Coalition
President, Defense Forum Foundation

Ann Buwalda, Esq.
Treasurer, North Korea Freedom Coalition
Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign USA

North Korean Human Rights Activist Suzanne Scholte, “Now, we have a golden opportunity to save North Korean refugees,” to President Moon.

한국어

“Due to the unique circumstance of COVID-19, North Korea will not receive repatriation of North Korean defectors… President Moon must request humanitarian assistance from Xi Jinping”

Suzanne Scholte

By Washington Correspondent Eui-jui Cho 
October 21, 2020

The Chosun Ilbo

On the 20th, North Korean human rights activist Suzanne Scholte, President of Defense Forum Foundation, sent an open letter to the Chosun Ilbo suggesting that President Moon must save North Korean defectors detained in China in the unique circumstance created by COVID-19.

President Scholte suggests, “Due to COVID-19, North Korea has been refusing to receive repatriation of North Korean defectors from China. Therefore, we have this golden opportunity to rescue the lives of North Korean defectors detained in China. President Moon must request Premier Xi to free the North Korean defectors.” President Scholte has been striving to ameliorate human rights violations in North Korea and support North Korean defectors. In recognition of her work, she received Seoul Peace Prize in 2008. Because of her work, U.S. Congress held the very first hearing over North Korean political prison camp. Also, since 2006, she has been organizing North Korea Freedom Week to apprise the international community of human rights violations in North Korea. 

Below is her open letter to President Moon: 

Dear Mr. President: 

I am appealing to you on a most urgent matter: the North Korean men, women and children currently detained in China’s detention centers. 

The Republic of Korea has earned great admiration and respect worldwide for the tremendous efforts it has carried out to successfully resettle over 33,000 refugees who fled North Korea over the past few decades. As you know, China has continued to violate its international treaty obligations and forcefully repatriate North Koreans back to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to face certain torture, certain imprisonment and even execution.

However, today, because of COVID 19, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has refused China’s request to forcefully repatriate these refugees back to North Korea, which offers a tremendous opportunity for you to save their lives. Most of these refugees were trying to reach their families in the Republic of Korea, a crime which makes them subject to execution if forced back to North Korea. Some of these refugees have become Christians, which means they are also subjected to immediate execution. Among them are young children. 

This current situation gives you a tremendous opportunity to save the lives of hundreds of men, women and children currently in detention centers in the People’s Republic of China by requesting that Xi show humanitarian compassion and allow them safe passage to the Republic of Korea.

Because of similar action taken on behalf of your own family, you had the great opportunity to be able to choose your own path and thrive in the Republic of Korea to be elected to its most important political office, President. Now, you are the person with the most authority in the world to act to protect the lives of these refugees and make it possible for them to have the same opportunities. Please consider the sincerity of this appeal to act on their behalf.

Suzanne Scholte
Seoul Peace Prize Laureate

This article was originally published in Korean by The Chosun Ilbo.

Continue reading “North Korean Human Rights Activist Suzanne Scholte, “Now, we have a golden opportunity to save North Korean refugees,” to President Moon.”

Save North Korean Refugees Day is September 24

Dear Friends:

I am pleased to provide an update for activities and plans for our annual Save North Korean Refugees Day: September 24, 2020, a day in which EVERYONE around the world can take part.

Why September 24th and Why Care?

September 24th is the anniversary of the date in 1982 when the People’s Republic of China signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. By signing this agreement the PRC agreed to share international concerns and protocols for refugees.  Yet, the PRC continues to forcibly repatriate men, women, and children back to North Korea to face the wrath of Kim Jong Un. Xi Jinping knows these innocent human beings will face certain torture, certain detention and even public execution for trying to seek a better life, or in most cases today, trying to be reunited with their families in South Korea.  The most recent UN Secretary General’s report on human rights in the DPRK noted specifically the horrific and widespread ill-treatment of women who had escaped and been repatriated citing an OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) interview with over 100 women. The Secretary General called for the international community to extend protection to citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have crossed international borders.. AND to take steps to ensure they are protected and not repatriated (66C).  The OHCHR noted that “systematic human rights violations are committed in detention centres, including sexual violence against women and girls, appear to take place under the direct authority of the Ministry of People’s Security and the Ministry of State Security, with the likely involvement of higher authorities and…such violations may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Please consider the many ways you can take part in Save North Korea Refugees Day 2020:

Sign the online petition to Xi Jinping

Free North Korea Radio has set up a petition that everyone can sign at this website:

https://freenorthkorearadio.org/save-nk-refugees/

Be a country or city coordinator

Coordinators pledge to deliver (electronic delivery is fine) on Thursday, September 24th, a letter of appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping via the local PRC embassy or consulate calling on the PRC to honor its treaty commitments and end its repatriation policy.  A letter and delivery information will be provided for you or you can prepare and deliver your own letter of appeal from your respective NGO.  Just let us know if you can help!

NEW ITEM: Save NK Orphans AND Display Your support for NK Refugees:

ISABELLA FOUNDATION is offering face masks with the words “SAVE NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES” printed on the front. Masks are being sold by the Isabella Foundation (a nonprofit) to support their work rescuing and resettling North Korean refugees and orphans, research projects. Net proceeds are tax deductible.  Isabella is selling the masks for $20.00 each, NKFC members get a $5.00 discount. Just enter code NKFC. You can pay by credit card, check, or if you wil attend our vigil in DC, you can pay in person at the event.  Visit here to order: 

Join us 7 pm on Thursday, September 24th at the PRC Embassy in Washington, D.C. for a Candlelight Vigil

Despite COVID-19, members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition decided to gather (with masks and social distancing) at the Embassy of the People Republic of China and hold a candlelight vigil to recall all those who tried to escape but were forcibly repatriated to North Korea by China.  We will gather at 7 pm at 3505 International Place, N.W., Washington, D.C.  We are happy to provide transportation to DC from Northern Virginia.  So, if you can join us that evening, please let me know and will have a seat for you!

Host a watch party for Crossing

Patrick Cheh, the producer of Crossing, has provided us copies of his award winning movie in recognition of Save North Korean Refugees Day.  Crossing is a powerful drama based on true stories of North Korea refugees and tragically, this movie is as relevant today as it was when it was first produced.  Attorney Tom Barker, who has helped gain U.S. Citizenship for many North Korean refugees, said that it was the movie Crossing that inspired him to get involved in the North Korea human rights movement.  Described by the Wall Street Journal as “A Schindler’s List for North Korea”, this powerful film is being offered for free but we do request a donation.  We started shipping out copies this week and have a copy just for you.  Send me your mailing address and will mail it to you right away.  You can see the English trailer for Crossing here: 

Send us Your Short Video Message for the North Korean Refugees

We are putting together short messages of solidarity to share on Save North Korean Refugees Day to give courage and support to the people of North Korea.  You can say a prayer, send a short message of encouragement, light a candle, just let them know they are NOT forgotten  – whatever inspires you!. 

Upload your short video message here (Google sign-in required) or upload on Facebook or Twitter and tag our social media accounts. And we will be sure these messages will also be heard in North Korea via Free North Korea Radio.

ACTA NON VERBA,

Suzanne

P.S. to give you some ideas for 2020, here is what happened around the world during last year’s Save North Korean Refugees Day:

Simon Wiesenthal Center Urges YouTube to Delete Korean Language Holocaust Denial Screed, Urges Korean Americans Leaders to Denounces Anti-Semitism

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a leading Jewish Human Rights NGO, is calling on YouTube  to delete a Korean language Holocaust denial video posted on its platform.

“This slick 25-minute video from “Spika Studio” by a host named “Sue” denies 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, that anyone was gassed at Auschwitz, labels Anne Frank a fraud, legitimizes Hitler’s hate for Germany Jewry, and alleges secret Jewish control of America for the last 50 years”, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of the SWC’s Global Social Action Agenda charged.

“American Jews and Korean Americans are good neighbors here in Los Angeles and in communities across  the United States”, Cooper noted.

“We are proud of our involvement over the last quarter of century, together with Korean human rights activists, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea,  the North Korean Freedom Coalition on behalf of the long-suffering people of North Korea and related human rights issues, including the gassing of political prisoners. Recently, we have seen an uptick of anti-Semitic postings online, but this video targeting Korean people is designed to demonize the Jewish people—alive and dead—and cast Jews as a secretive, dangerous cabal.”

“The SWC urges YouTube to remove the video and calls on our Korean neighbors to reject its lurid and false messages”, Rabbi Cooper concluded.

American Leaders on Oppression of the North Korea Human Rights Movement by the Moon Administration

Please find reprinted here a letter our coalition sent to President Moon Jae-In regarding the suppression of the North Korea human rights movement by his administration. I want to acknowledge and especially thank these American leaders who agreed to be original signatories on this letter: Dick Allen, Roberta Cohen, Bob Joseph, Bob King, Winston Lord, Barton Marcois, Ty McCoy, Tom Montgomery, Andrew Natsios, Daniel Pipes, Gare Smith, Katrina Lantos Swett and Christian Whiton. Because of their support, Americans who served in every U.S. Presidency since President Richard Nixon are represented in this letter demonstrating our unity that it is the responsibility of the international community, especially the Republic of Korea, to uphold the rights of the people of North Korea.

Also, thank you to all of those who joined in solidarity from around the world who are also listed below.

 

Suzanne Scholte
Chair, North Korea Freedom Coalition

한국어

Continue reading “American Leaders on Oppression of the North Korea Human Rights Movement by the Moon Administration”