Thursday, December 22, 2005

Envoy to China: Treat Defectors Better

The U.S. envoy for human rights in North Korea, Jay Lefkowitz, urged China to improve its treatment of North Korean defectors and expressed hope the United States could also become an accessible haven for some refugees.

Lefkowitz said the issue of North Korean refugees was one of the "real personal human tragedies" of the situation around rights in the communist nation.

Michael Horowitz, senior adviser to the Washington-based Hudson Institute, said the U.S. has to push China to change its stance on defectors by threatening sanctions. Still, he said tough measures — like sanctions and campaigns to either boycott or switch the venue of 2008 Beijing Olympics — could grab Chinese attention but also backfire.

Tim Peters, founder of Helping Hands Korea, said U.S. diplomats refused to accept North Korean defectors in China, Vietnam and Thailand over the past six months. "They told me, ‘Don‘t bring them here to the U.S. embassy, please take them to the UNHCR office,‘" Peters said.

[Excerpt from an article by Burt Herman, Brocktown News]

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