Urgent appeal to the international community
For the release of 10 North Korean refugees and 2 South Korean Christian humanitarian aid workers arrested in Laos
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int.
ICC NOTE: Urgent prayer and action is needed from the international community so that these detained Christians receive protection. It is important that we write to the Laos embassies around the world and fight for their safety from the death penalty. The Human Rights Without Frontiers website has the contact information for Laos s embassies in different countries. These Christians need our effort right now, whether in prayer or contact of these embassies. Be praying!
On June 3, 2006, ten North Korean refugees and two South Korean humanitarian workers were arrested and are currently detained in Immigration Detention Center in Pang Mong, Luan Brabang Province of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic. They are threatened with forced repatriation to North Korea , where they are expected to face imprisonment and death penalty.
The names of the refugees are:
1. Cha Song-chol, male, husband, 53 years old
2. Cheon Yong-kum, female, wife, 58 years old
3. Cha Kwang-su, male, son, 25 years old (the above persons constitute one family)
4. Kim Kyong-suk, female, 71 years old
5. Chu Hi-ok, female, 40 years old
6. Yim Jong-suk, female, 36
7. Shim Yong-kum, female, 35 years old
8. Park Yong-nan, female, 26 years old
9. Jeon Song-hi, female, 26 years old
10. Kim Jong-ae, female, 35 years old
Names of the South Korean aid workers in detention:
1. Kim Hee-tae, male, South Korean
2. Shin Sang Hwa, male, South Korean
The North Korean refugees were fleeing their country in the hope of finding a safe haven in a SouthEast Asian country. The authorities in Laos threaten to turn them over to the North Korean embassy in Laos .
North Koreans are deprived of any access to the UNHCR refugee status determination procedure. Their arrests in countries of Asia and their repatriation to North Korea constitute violations of customary international law. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee to be someone with well-founded fear of being prosecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinions.
North Koreans have no protection on their return back to the country. Article 47 of the Criminal Code of North Korea is explicit: a citizen of the Republic who defects to a foreign country or to the enemy in betrayal of the country and the people .shall be committed to a reform institution for not less that seven years. In cases where the person commits an extremely grave offence, he or she shall be given death penalty.