Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Persecution in North Korea and Sudan

A core group of political and Christian leaders issued a "Statement of Conscience" that singles out Sudan and North Korea as the worst violators of human rights.

The torment "suffered by faith communities of Sudan and North Korea may be more brutal, more systematic, more deliberate, more implacable and more purely genocidal than those taking place anywhere in the world today," according to the statement supported by some 150 church, think-tank, and political leaders.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) told the thought-shapers, government officials and clergy, including a bishop from Sudan and a woman tortured in a North Korean labor camp, that since the first summit in 1996 concern for religious persecution has moved from a hotel conference hall to Capitol Hill.

"We ask people to pray," Brownback said. "It has to happen in the heavenlies before it can happen in the U.S. Congress."

The afternoon summit, sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House, supports President Bush's characterization of Sudan as "monstrous" and his inclusion of North Korea in the "axis of evil."

It calls for the administration to press North Korea to allow more aid from nongovernmental organizations, as well as greater resources generally for reporting abuses in all problem countries. The statement also vowed "never to commit the sin of silence" in the face of abuses.
Norbert Vollertsen, who as a visiting physician has documented numerous North Korean abuses, told those in attendance that the country's regime is an updated composite of the world's worst dictators. The government of Kim Jong-il views Christianity as the worst kind of subversion of the communist state, he said.

Missionary pastor Tim Peters, who has helped run an underground railway through which North Koreans escape the country, added: "The fury with which North Korea meets Christianity is hard for us [in the West] to understand."

Commission Chairman Michael Young told the second summit that North Korea is systematically starving 5 million of its own people—to little international criticism.

Michael Horowitz, who directs the conservative Hudson Institute's Project for International Religious Liberty, said from his seat that as a Jew he was amazed at the unified effort of Christians in the past six years.

"You don't know your own power," Horowitz said. "For God's sake, keep it up. You're really doing God's work not only for your own people, but for mine and everyone else's."

[From article by Jeff M. Sellers, Christianity Today]

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