Green Light on U.S. Legislation to Help North Korean Refugees in China

[imText1]On October 29, 2007 H. CON. RES. 234, calling on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to respect the human rights of refugees from North Korea, unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The resolution, authored by Rep. Ed Royce, specifically states that the U.S. Congress strongly urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China to honor its obligations as specified in the 1951 UN Convention regarding the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by: ceasing the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees; taking measures to protect refugees encountered by Chinese officials and granting them the right to request asylum; and granting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees unrestricted access to such refugees to ensure they receive the status and assistance to which they are entitled.

The resolution goes further to recognize the efforts of the Korean-American community for bringing attention to the plight of North Korean Refugees. Rep. Royce was honored with the Light of Liberty Award in Washington D.C. at a gala hosted by supporting LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) on October 24th.

Royce has long been a voice of advocacy for North Korean human rights and has played a leading role in passing important legislation through Congress supporting the rights of refugees and the free flow of information into North Korea.

The unanimous vote in favor of Resolution 234 follows in the wake of defector Kim Sang Hyuk’s recent arrest, which was reported by Daily NK on the 25th of this month. Kim, like other refugees in China, had been living in hiding since his escape from North Korea.

Wanted by the National Security Agency of North Korea for leaking inside information to relatives in the South, Kim was hunted down by Chinese authorities during a house raid on the morning of October 24th. Now in custody at the border, he awaits repatriation to North Korea where he is certain to face long term imprisonment in a labor camp, severe torture and/or execution. His only crime was risking it all to escape persecution in his own country and to reunite with his family in South Korea. Refugees in China live in fear of being discovered, for if they are apprehended by Chinese patrols, their fate is inescapably sealed upon repatriation.

The plight of North Korean refugees living in China is matter of international concern. It is currently estimated there are anywhere from 100,000 to 300.000 North Korean refugees in hiding within the People’s Republic of China.

To view Resolution 234 in its entirety, please visit the Library of Congress website at: http://thomas.loc.gov

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