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NEWS ALERT: Christians Worldwide Pray For North Korea ; British MP’s Concerned

Monday, 19 June 2006 By

Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

PYONGYANG/LONDON/AMSTERDAM (BosNewsLife)– Christians around the world began a week-long round-the-clock prayer vigil for North Korea Monday, June 19, as key British lawmakers urged the new United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to help end “the untold suffering” and “protect the rights” of North Koreans, including Christian believers.

Some observers say there are at least 200,000 people imprisoned in North Korea ‘s notorious prison camps, in many cases for their faith in Christ or opposition to the Communist government.

As the UNHRC was to meet for the first time, Monday, June 19, British law makers wrote the body in a statement, obtained by BosNewsLife, that they want to “express [their] belief that the level of human rights atrocities taking place in North Korea today is critically high.”

They said, “As Christians around the world gather in the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea , we call on the UN Human Rights Council, on the occasion of its inaugural meeting…to do everything within its power to find an effective way to protect the rights of the citizens of North Korea . Their untold suffering must be exposed and their misery brought to an end. This is our petition and our prayer.”

EUROPEAN CONCERN

The statement was supported by Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Anderson of Swansea and Members of Parliament Joe Benton, David Burrowes, Alistair Burt, Alistair Carmichael Stephen Crabb, David Drew, Lord Hylton and Andrew Selous.

Last week, Thursday, June 15, the European Parliament(EP) passed a resolution condemning “the human rights abuses” in North Korea , highlighting what media censorship as well as the North Korean government’s “lack of cooperation” with the UN Special Rapporteur and “the severe punishments” facing North Korean citizens who show the slightest opposition to the North Korean authorities.

The EP resolution also expressed concern over the whereabouts of Son Jong Nam , a North Korean Christian man who has reportedly been tortured and threatened with execution by the country’s Communist government.

“SEVERE PERSECUTION”

Christian rights groups Open Doors has put North Korea on top of its World Watch List of “50 countries with severe persecution of Christians.” Earlier this month, the organization helped to organize a massive ‘Night of Prayer’ at 300 locations in the Netherlands and Belgium , focusing on reportedly persecuted Christians in North Korea as well as in China , the Middle East and Eritrea .

6,000 Christians participated in the June 9-10 event, organizers said. “Praying at night adds a dimension. You are more concentrated and less likely to be distracted as the atmosphere is totally different than in the day time,” said Open Doors-coworker Klaas Muurling.

“The night is also a period when many prisoners face especially difficulties.”

Muurling claimed that God hears nightly prayers. “In Peru for instance a prisoner Wuillie Ruiz was released a day after the Night of Prayer,” he recalled. “[During a similar event] last year Iranian Christian prisoner Hamid Pourmand was found innocent by a Muslim court [and did not receive the death penalty on charges of hiding he converted from Islam to Christianity.]”

GLOBAL IMPACT

Organizers of this week’s Global Week of Prayer for North Korea , held simultaneously around the world, hope the prayers and related aid actions and demonstrations will make an impact too. ”

In London , Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it will also organize a protest outside the embassy of China , which has been accused of repatriating North Koreans back to North Korea where they allegedly face imprisonment, torture and possible execution.

The meeting Thursday June 22 at 3.45pm will be followed by a ‘Prayer Meeting’ at St Michael’s Church, Chester Square, London at 12noon on Saturday June 24, CSW told BosNewsLife.

CSW Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said his organization has encouraged all “Christians and churches to take up this call to prayer during the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea …especially on Sunday June 25, the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.”

“HORRIFIC SUFFERING”

He stressed Christian investigators are hoping “that the horrific suffering and darkness overshadowing the people of North Korea ” will “finally be demolished.” The North Korean authorities have reportedly denied the charges saying ” North Korea has no human rights issue” because its Communist, or “Socialist system” was “chosen by the people and serves them faithfully.”

Observers who visited North Korea have suggested however that is has become clear that especially Christian believers often suffer as North Korea’s Stalinist system of carrying out Communism is based on “total devotion of the individual to an ideology promoted by the late leader Kim Il Sung and his successor and son, Kim Jong Il.”

The ideology largely resembles a religion or cult, known as Juche, and refugees’ accounts say those who oppose it are dealt with severely, often ending up in prison camps. Despite the risks there are believed to be likely at least tens of thousands of practicing Christians in the isolated nation. (With additional reporting by Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar in the Netherlands, Chief Editor of the influential Dutch Evangelical monthly newspaper ‘Uitdaging’ (Challenge)).