A group of South Korean lawyers say they will do what they can to help a group of North Korean defectors on trial in Burma for illegal immigration.
The South Korean Bar Association of Human Rights says it will file a petition to a Burma court, in hopes of securing the release of 19 North Korean defectors being detained there.
The 19 North Korean defectors being detained by authorities in Burma are among those who have fled their country's harsh deprivation and political repression. Adding emotional urgency to the case is the fact that four of the defectors are apparently children whose mothers have already settled in South Korea.
A woman who says two of the children are hers tells South Korean media the group had arranged with an underground travel broker for passage to Thailand. However, they were transported to Burma, instead.
Park Min-jae says lawyers are ready to travel to Burma, if necessary. She says, as a nongovernmental organization from a third country, all her association can do is make its case based on civil rights. She says that, in terms of international law, the defectors do not have the protections that come with formal refugee status.