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NGO Leaders, Citizens Appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao to Stop Repatriation of North Korean Refugees

As the United States welcomes Chinese President Hu Jintao to America this evening (Tuesday, January 18, 2011), the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC) has told the ASSIST News Service that it has delivered letters earlier today to the Embassy of China appealing to Hu to end China’s policy of repatriating North Korea refugees back to North Korea.

“The letters were signed by both non-governmental organizations and individuals representing millions of American citizens as well as individuals and organizations from around the world,” said a spokesperson for the organization.

The NKFC says that in their appeal to Hu, they acknowledged China’s concern about the refugees entering China without permission, but explained the repatriation policy is prolonging the refugee crisis and leading North Koreans to be tortured, imprisoned and even executed when China forces them back to North Korea.

The vulnerability of the refugees has also led to North Korean women being victimized by traffickers, with over eighty-percent being sold.

Furthermore, the NKFC said the current repatriation policy has prolonged this refugee crisis by allowing the regime in North Korea to resist taking any reforms which would create an environment in which its citizens do not want to flee.

“Those North Korean defectors who risk their lives to flee to China do not want to leave North Korea, but they feel they have no choice because of the conditions in their homeland,” stated the NKFC citing the fact that when North Korean refugees first started fleeing to China during the famine, they described China as a “paradise” compared to their homeland.

The NKFC expressed its appreciation that China is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol which showed China’s concern for refugees and asked Hu to work with the UNHCR and international community to safely resettle the refugees.

Last week the North Korea Freedom Coalition sent an appeal to President Barack Obama to “raise this issue” with Hu during their meetings.

“It is critically important that the United States raise this issue at the highest level and show its willingness to work with China to resolve this refugee crisis,” said NKFC Chairman Suzanne Scholte.

On the evening of the State Dinner that President Obama will host for Hu at the White House tomorrow evening, the NKFC will hold a candlelight vigil to remember the North Koreans who have died because of China’s repatriation policy.

On the evening of the State Dinner that President Obama will host for Hu at the White House tomorrow, the NKFC says that it will hold a candlelight vigil to remember the North Koreans who have died because of China’s repatriation policy.

“We will begin gathering at Lafayette Park at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, for the candlelight vigil at 7 pm,” said a spokesperson for the organization “We will walk in front of the White House for a quiet ceremony carrying a coffin to remember all those who have died because of this policy, and we will read THE LIST of all the names known to us of the North Korean refugees who have been forced back to North Korea. Special guests will include North Korean defectors.”

For further information visit: www.nkfreedom.org.

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