Letter to UNHCR
Parliamentarians Petition the UN
Hon. Ruud Lubbers
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
China will soon hold the final appeal trial for the
humanitarian aid workers and the journalist who were arrested on January
18 for attempting to help North Korean refugees flee into China.
They have been held in detention since their arrest
several months ago.
You may have already seen reports that on May
22, the Chinese court sentenced Mr. Choi Yong-hun (S. Korean) to
5 years in prison and levied a fine of 30,000RMB.
Mr. Seok Jae-hyun (S. Korean) received a sentence
of 2 years in prison and a fine of 5,000RMB, while Mr. Park Yong-ho
(Korean Chinese) received a 3-year sentence and a fine of 10,000RMB.
The defendants' lawyers, who filed appeals on
June 2, said that the appeal hearing is usually held about a month
after the appeal is filed. Please note that this appeal will be
their last chance in court.
Jubilee Campaign, an American NGO dedicated to
the legal defense of human rights, had generously been working with
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a NGO based in Japan,
on a formal petition indicating the unfair and arbitrary detention
of the defendants by the Chinese authorities. Jubilee Campaign submitted
the petition to The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the week of June 23
On June 17, we sent a letter via Express Mail
Service to China's President Hu Jintao, asking him to recognize
North Korean defectors, who clearly deserve the refugee status,
and to immediately release the humanitarian aid workers and the
We have also been engaged in a signature campaign
calling for a fair trial for the defendants and also to provide
Mr. Choi with immediate access to his medications. Mr. Choi Yong-hun
is suffering from diabetes, hypertension and asthma, but he has
not yet received the necessary medications, and his health condition
is deteriorating. Please listen to his daughters' plea for help:
More than 4,000 people have already signed the petition in South
Korea, and about 550 people have signed it in Japan.
UNHCR, being an international organization, holds
the key to rescuing these abused people. We ask UNHCR to firmly
and actively stand by them and to commit full and immediate effort
to their rescue. Also, we must not forget the plight of the North
Korean refugees arrested along with the aid workers and the journalist.
I have heard that you have agreed to hold a meeting
on North Korean refugee issues in conjunction with LFNKR. We full-heartedly
welcome this agreement. I am confident that this meeting would contribute
greatly towards the resolution of the humanitarian problems regarding
North Korean refugees.
LFNKR is currently preparing an international
conference on these issues, to be held in Tokyo or Beijing. There,
we are going to propose a joint on-site fact-finding tour to the
northeastern region of the People’s Republic of China with
officers of UNHCR and a preliminary survey tour to Mongolia for
establishing a refugee camp. We will also urge the Chinese government
to observe the international standard (The Principle of Non-Refoulement
stipulated in Article 33 of the 1951 Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees) and not to deport back the North Korean defectors
to North Korea.
Accordingly, we emphatically invite you to attend
the conference and we are looking forward to receiving your generous
July 28th, 2003
International Parliamentarians' Coalition
for the North Korean Refugees and Human
Rights (IPCNKR), Co-founder
Member of the House of Representatives of JAPAN