Monday, February 06, 2006

North Korean Refugee Advocates Roughed Up

China's security officers, in a brazen display of intolerance toward human rights, forcefully disrupted a Beijing press conference. Organizers of the press conference had hoped to bring fresh attention to the unsolved disappearance of a South Korean pastor abducted by North Koreans five years ago. They hoped to draw new attention to the fate of about 300,000 North Korean refugees inside China. They are urging China to "show compassion" to those North Koreans who manage to escape the repressive communist regime of Kim Jong-Il.

Witnesses say shortly before the press conference was to begin at the Beijing Great Wall Sheraton Hotel conference room, several plain-clothed Chinese state security agents, who refused to identify themselves, ordered the meeting to be stopped.

When Rep. Kim began to speak, the agents shut off his microphone and the cut the room's electricity. Chaos ensued as some 40 journalists were shoved out of the room in the dark, and a legislative aide to Rep. Kim was dragged out of the room, according to one eyewitness.

The press conference was going to highlight a four-day fact-finding mission into the disappearance of South Korean pastor Kim Dong-shik, who North Korean agents abducted five years ago for trying to help North Korean refugees in Yanji, a town in China's Jilin Province near the North Korean border.

A visit was also planned with Choi Young-hoon, a Christian Korean businessman currently serving a five-year sentence in Weifang City Prison for his efforts to help North Korean defectors hiding in China.

[Excerpt from an article by Sheryl Henderson Blunt, Christianity Today]

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