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For some time we have been deeply concerned about China ’s practice of repatriating North Korean refugees, where they often face brutal treatment and even execution. We are deeply saddened by the recent news that Mr Park Yong-chol, the North Korean imprisoned in China for helping his countrymen escape, has been forcibly repatriated to North Korea .

We had been were extremely concerned for his welfare, as he had expressed his absolute terror at the approach of his release date, describing his potential repatriation as a death sentence. The policies and practices of North Korea sadly support his assessment.

Mr Park had been due to be released from Weifang Prison in Shandong Province in January 2005, but was secretly repatriated in October 2004. The repatriation was uncovered on 12th December when Kim Bong-soon, the wife of his fellow inmate Choi Yong-hun, visited the prison.

Choi Yong-hun had repeatedly appealed for intervention on behalf of Mr Park . Even before the repatriation, he had said that the thought of Mr Park ’s repatriation tormented him so badly that he himself sometimes contemplated suicide.

Mr Park (also known as Jo Yong-su) was arrested on 18th January 2003 in relation to a well-publicised attempted escape by North Koreans by boat. He was sentenced on 22nd May 2003 by a court in Yantai , Shandong Province, to two years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 RMB for his part in implementing the planned escape.

It is shocking that China would return Mr Park to such an evidently dangerous fate, despite international appeals. We are deeply saddened to think of the treatment he would receive in North Korea .

We would be grateful if you could write to the North Korean and Chinese authorities. Please raise concern for his welfare with the North Korean authorities, and, to the Chinese authorities, communicate deep concern that they should have acted in such flagrant disregard for the right to life and physical integrity.

To contact the Chinese Embassy, please write or call:

Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel:(202) 328-2500 Fax:(202) 588-0032
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512