North Koreans live in one of the most inhumane and cruel regimes in the world. There’s no doubt about that. Starvation, arbitrary arrest, torture, forced labor, and public execution are just a few of the horrors that North Koreans fear each day. Most North Koreans have no option but to live under the rule of this repressive regime, but some have risked imprisonment and possible execution attempting to flee the country. No one knows exactly how many have fled the nation, but estimates range from 100,000 to 400,000 in the last few decades alone. For the majority of North Koreans fleeing the nation, the only viable option is to cross by foot into China and then eventually seek asylum in nations such as South Korea or Thailand.
Unfortunately, China is making every effort to ensure that these brave men and women never find asylum. Chinese government officials actively hunt down refugees and forcibly repatriate them back to North Korea, all but condemning them to death or a lifetime in prison. Not only does China seek out refugees for immediate detainment and openly pays bounties for reports on refugees’ whereabouts, the communist regime also actively blocks refugees from entering into refugee-friendly embassies in Beijing and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office, where refugees could begin the asylum process.
China’s cruel policy of repatriation is a blatant violation of its international treaties, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. Despite vast international pressure, the communist regime continues to actively pursue North Korean refugees for arrest and repatriation. “There is no reason for China to continue its inhumane and barbaric treatment of North Koreans,” stated the Chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, Suzanne Scholte, “because unlike any refugees in the world today, they can be immediately resettled as they are citizens of South Korea under the Republic of Korea’s constitution. This is a crisis that could be solved overnight if China would simply follow international law and allow the UNHCR to do their job.”
China’s Policies Fueling the Sex Trade
For those refugees who are not caught and repatriated, an estimated 90% are sold and trafficked into the sex trade. Experts point to China’s one-child policy that has resulted in a shortage of women in the nation. It is estimated that by 2030, nearly 30 million Chinese men of marriageable age will be without prospects of marriage – thus creating a severe gender imbalance and fueling the sex trade. China’s ruthless repatriation policy leaves North Korean refugees especially vulnerable to traffickers.
Raise Your Voice on September 22
In order to bring global awareness of China’s cruel policy and practice of repatriation of North Korean refugees, ICC is partnering with the North Korea Freedom Coalition for an International Protest to Save the North Korean Refugees on Thursday, September 22. This protest will call Chinese embassies and consulates throughout the world to stop their policy and practice, and to stand up for the rights of North Koreans.
Would you be willing to coordinate a protest at the Chinese embassy or consulate in your city or country? We’re looking for people to organize a protests or rally, conduct a prayer vigil, host a film screening of movies that depict the plight of North Korean refugees, or simply to deliver a petition to the Chinese embassy. If you think you would be interested in any of these opportunities, please email ICC at email@example.com.
As the 25 January Revolution carries on in Egypt, Christians are among the thousands of protesters demanding that President Hosni Mubarak stand down. Although uncertain who may rise to power if free elections take place in September, a long history of discrimination under Mubarak’s regime has compelled Christians to join the demonstrations. In doing so, Christians have chosen to walk a precarious path which will either open the door for a secular government or for an Islamic state.
Coptic Christians were the first Egyptians to organize protests in 2011 when thousands took part in demonstrations following the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve that killed twenty-four worshipers (see photo at right). Some believe that the boldness of the Coptic protests helped ignite the fervor of today’s revolution. “This was the most powerful protest that Christian Copts ever held in recent history,” said a Coptic human rights activist. “It went three days and inspired the 25th youth movement. We wanted to end a life under dictatorship, and we were not alone in our aspirations.”
Coptic frustration was again triggered just days after the early-January demonstrations when Mubarak publicly blamed the Army of Islam, an Al-Qaeda linked Palestinian network, for the church bombing. Copts believed that the attack was carried out by Egyptians and that Mubarak’s accusation was to avoid addressing internal Islamic terrorism targeting Christians.
Mubarak’s disregard was nothing new for Copts who had experienced considerable persecution in 2010. Murders were accompanied by anti-Christian propaganda in Egyptian media, acquittals of Muslim offenders who initiated anti-Christian attacks, the inability of Christians to build churches without special government authorization, and the lack of basic freedoms for Christian converts from Islam. Marginalized by the government, Christians are left helplessly exposed. It came as no surprise that Christian frustrations boiled over in January.
“We have suffered a lot as Christians,” said the same Coptic activist. “We’ve seen churches being bombed, innocent people being killed, girls being kidnapped, and the increase of Islamism. We want to get rid of the dictatorship that we have been living under for over thirty years.”
“As Christians, we need to support the approach of a democratic secular state,” said Magdi Khalil, Director of the Middle East Freedom Forum. “This means equal rights… it means religious freedom. We want Mubarak to leave immediately to begin a secular constitution that will protect our freedoms.”
While Christians hope for greater freedom, there is a palpable fear that demonstrations will lead to a power vacuum and possible takeover by the only organized, moneyed, and financed opposition: the Muslim Brotherhood. When we asked the human rights activist if he would regret participating in the revolution if it lead to a Muslim Brotherhood takeover, he thought carefully. “I don’t know some Christians would. I don’t think I will personally because all I can do is hope for a better future for my country. I would die for it. And I think there are a lot of Christians who would die for this cause as well. I keep praying that they will not come to power. If the Brotherhood took over power, it would turn Egypt into the Taliban. It would be another Afghanistan. We would go backwards 1,400 years.”
“If the Muslim Brotherhood were to take over, it would not only be dangerous for the Christians in Egypt, but for the whole world,” said Magdi Khalil. “It means the entire Middle East will be an Islamic Middle East. Egypt is the key state (in the Middle East). We must support the secular approach and rewrite the constitution to be a secular constitution.”
While the demonstrations began as a youth movement, we predict the Muslim Brotherhood will hijack the revolution and call it their own. Idealistic in nature, revolutions often showcase the law of unintended consequences. Yet many Christians believe that now – and only now – is their chance at a better life. For Christians to let this opportunity slip away may mean giving up their only hope for religious freedom.
“We are seeking freedom, we are seeking democracy. No one can live without freedom. Freedom is life.”