400 Defectors on a Hunger Strike Requesting Relocation to South Korea

[imText1]400 defectors confined at the Immigration Detention Centre in Thailand have begun a hunger strike, the “International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of North Korean Refugees” revealed on the 25th.

The organization informed, “100 male and 300 female refugees began a hunger strike on the evening of 24th (local time) in protest against the government’s refusal to aid their entry (to South Korea).”

In a conversation with the DailyNK, an affiliate of the organization revealed, “Currently there are 400 or so defectors confined in Thailand’s Immigration Detention Centre, of which 314 defectors are women. For the past 2, 3 months, these people have been undergoing the procedures required for entry into South Korea.”

However, “For whatever the reason, the South Korean government is not bringing these refugees who have been waiting for release even though the procedures have been finalized and the airplane tickets have been obtained” the affiliate said and added that there were even rumors to suggest that the refugees at the immigration centre would be denied the tickets altogether.

Further, the affiliate revealed, “The women’s detention centre only has the capacity to hold 100 people but 314 female defectors are being imprisoned there with only 1 toilet available. They are living under severe, harsh conditions.”

Moreover, with the recent surge of defectors fleeing to Laos through China, police control has also increased.

Last November, 3 youth defectors were caught by Laos authorities at the Chinese border, while in attempt to reach Thailand from China via the Mekong River.

Laos authorities sentenced the youths to 3 months imprisonment. Five months on, the youths were finally released on 24th and handed over to the South Korean Embassy.

Regarding the hunger strike by the 400 defectors, Minister Song Min Soon of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “We are aware that such an issue has arisen,” and “We are making efforts to come to some sort of agreement with Thai authorities in order to solve the matter.”

In relation to the 3 youth defectors currently detained in Laos, the minister said, “I am not in a position to confirm anything” and added, “The situation is not something to be worried about.”

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