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Call On North Korea To Stop Execution of Christian
In an unprecedented move, family and activists have called upon the international community to intervene to abort the execution of a named North Korean man, Mr Son Jong Nam. CSW is calling for “efforts to rescue Son Jong Nam , who has been sentenced to public execution”.

The appeal comes after Mr Son’s brother, Son Jong Hoon, received information via a relative. He reported: ‘My brother is sentenced to public execution and even family members cannot visit him’.

This is the first time that an appeal has been issued to prevent the known execution of a named individual in North Korea from taking place. Five North Korean defector organisations working for human rights in North Korea issued a joint statement on 4th April urging for intervention to stop the planned execution. They have now broadened their activities to ask the international community to intervene to raise the case.

The joint agency statement reports that Mr Son (48) is imprisoned in the basement of the National Security Agency in Pyongyang and is ‘practically dead from horrible torture’.

Mr Son is accused of betraying his country and sharing information with South Koreans. It is believed the charges are grounded in his visit to China where he met with his brother and spoke about life in North Korea and, possibly, in his connection to Christianity. He had also received financial assistance for his survival from his brother.

At a press conference reported by The Daily NK, his brother, Son Jong Hoon (43), stated: “In China , I only talked to him about how my siblings were doing and what North Koreans think of the Kim Jong Il regime. He shouldn’t be executed for the crime of betrayal or espionage. His execution needs to be stopped.”

Mr Son defected from North Korea in 1997 with his wife, son and brother. He attended Church in China and became a Christian – a serious crime in North Korea . While his brother was successful in reaching South Korea in 2002, Son Jong Nam was repatriated in April 2001 and imprisoned for three years in the Ham-Gyung-Buk area prison camp in North Korea . He was released on parole in May 2004 after the intervention of influential contacts. He was expelled to Chongjin where he worked at a rocket research institute.

In May 2004 Mr Son was able to meet his brother in China and return to North Korea . However the individual in Musan who helped him travel to China informed on him to the Musan National Security Agency. The National Security Office in Musan asked their colleagues in Pyongyang to arrest Mr Son and he was taken in by the secret police in January 2006 as he was leaving his younger sister’s house in Pyongyang . Those close to him have been exiled from Pyongyang .

Those closest to the situation, including Son Jong Hoon, are now calling for the wider international community to raise its voice to appeal for the life of Mr Son. The statement from the North Korean defector organisations states: ‘Organisations including Association of North Korean Defectors, Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag, Free North Korean Broadcasting and 8,000 North Koreans are asking to stop the public execution of Son Jong Nam . … Mr Son is currently facing critical danger. By raising the consciousness of the international community, we may be able to save Mr Son.’

CSW’s International Advocate, Elizabeth Batha, who has gathered extensive first hand testimony from numerous torture victims and eyewitnesses of public execution, stated: ‘We are deeply concerned for the life and welfare of Mr Son Jong Nam . North Korea practices brutal torture and it is hard to imagine the pain and suffering that will already have been inflicted upon him.
We urge the international community to match the bravery and boldness of those who have decided to take this unprecedented step of announcing this to the outside world. We hope that those in a position of influence will be unstinting in strongly urging the North Koreans to abort their plans to carry out this unjust execution.’