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China's Two-Faced Policy
Current Background - July 2002

China Must Stop Repatriating North Korean Refugees

North Korean Defectors in China Face Repatriation

"Beijing, July 20 (Yonhap) - A group of North Korean defectors being held by Chinese authorities in the area bordering Mongolia are likely to be repatriated, diplomatic sources here said Saturday.

The defectors, along with the South Korean missionary aiding their attempt to reach the South, 46-year-old Cheon Gi-won, have been held since Dec. 29 in a Chinese prison."

We at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) just received the above urgent information.

The Chinese authorities have apparently decided to deport to South Korea Cheon Gi-won, who was engaged in assisting North Korean refugees. However, the thirteen North Korean refugees are almost certain to be sent back to North Korea. These thirteen refugees were arrested at the same time as Cheon Gi- won, and are now being held in Manzhouli Prison in Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The authorities involved must not be allowed to do this. The Chinese government has clearly stated to the international community that they will address the North Korean refugee issue in light of domestic law and international law and from a humanitarian standpoint, and that they will treat fairly escapees from North Korea who wish to defect.

Whether the escapees from North Korea seek asylum in foreign embassies in China or try to cross the Chinese border to escape from North Korea into other countries, they are essentially defectors. The current practice by Chinese authorities is to reluctantly recognize only those who have managed to seek asylum in foreign embassies or those people, including missionaries, who have been reported on by the international press. Meanwhile, they are repatriating any North Korean refugees arrested near that country's border. This is illogical and significantly deviates from common international practices.

Any North Korean refugees repatriated to North Korea are very likely to be imprisoned in concentration camps or political prison camps where they face the harshest of treatment.

From the humanitarian viewpoint, the Chinese authorities must equally grant all escapees from North Korea the defection they request.

We at LFNKR are fully aware that the Chinese authorities are officially emphasizing their humanitarian attitude wherever activities are disclosed to the international community. Meanwhile, however, they continue their ever more harsh crackdown on North Korean refugees and any local people helping those refugees in the far areas of China where information is hard to gather and difficult to report to the international community. This is obviously a double standard. International society must not accept this expedient, two-faced policy by China.

China must immediately stop its crackdown on the North Korean refugees and the local people helping them.