Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Olympics and North Korean Refugees

The North Korean refugee issue has taken on a renewed urgency as the Olympics loom and negotiations continue over disarming North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, successfully sponsored a resolution last fall calling on China to respect the human rights of North Korean refugees, halt their repatriation and allow them to request asylum. "Beijing must understand that it can no longer systematically disregard its international obligations by forcibly repatriating these individuals to North Korea, where they face severe punishment, and even death," Royce said.

Human rights groups and dozens of legislators including Royce also argue that North Korea's treatment of its citizens should be factored into the decision to lift U.S. sanctions against the country.

"The human rights situation in North Korea is a nightmare," said Royce. "North Koreans are suffering and dying. But these abuses also tell us something about the regime we're expecting to carry out commitments to disarm its nuclear weapons program."

Bruce Klingner, a Northeast Asia expert for the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C., said that negotiations with North Korea shouldn't focus exclusively on its nuclear programs.

"Human rights in North Korea and its nuclear program can and should be discussed together," Klingner said. "We can't back away." He said the United Nations should also be pressing for the right to inspect North Korean prison camps, some of which have been shown by satellite imagery to be as large as the District of Columbia.

[Excerpt of an article by Erika Chavez, Orange County Register]

1 comment:

kimbatch said...

Is anyone else going to hold China to account on the promises it made that hosting the Olympics would improve human rights in China?

China must not forcibly return North Korean refugees to their country where their lives are in danger.

Just like it must let people practice whatever religion they choose, it must let journalist go about their business without censorship, it must let peaceful human rights defenders go about their business, it must let ethnic minorities to express their culture.

Act now -