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1/18/11 North Korea (NKFC) – As the United States prepares to welcome President Hu Jintao to the United States this evening, the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC) delivered letters today to the Embassy of China appealing to Hu to end China’s policy of repatriating North Korea refugees back to North Korea.  The letters were signed by both non-governmental organizations and individuals representing millions of American citizens as well as individuals and organizations from around the world.

In their appeal to Hu, the NKFC acknowledged China’s concern about the refugees entering China without permission, but explained the repatriation policy is prolonging the refugee crisis and leading North Koreans to be tortured, imprisoned and even executed when China forces them back to North Korea.  The vulnerability of the refugees has also led to North Korean women being victimized by traffickers, with over eighty-percent being sold.

Furthermore, the NKFC said the current repatriation policy has prolonged this refugee crisis by allowing the regime in North Korea to resist taking any reforms which would create an environment in which its citizens do not want to flee.  “Those North Korean defectors who risk their lives to flee to China do not want to leave North Korea, but they feel they have no choice because of the conditions in their homeland,” stated the NKFC citing the fact that when North Korean refugees first started fleeing to China during the famine, they described China as a “paradise” compared to their homeland.

The NKFC expressed its appreciation that China is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol which showed China’s concern for refugees and asked Hu to work with the UNHCR and international community to safely resettle the refugees. 

Last week the North Korea Freedom Coalition sent an appeal to President Obama to raise this issue with Hu during their meetings.  “It is critically important that the United States raise this issue at the highest level and show its willingness to work with China to resolve this refugee crisis,” said NKFC Chairman Suzanne Scholte. 

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