April 24, 2009
Natan Sharansky, who spent 10 years in the Soviet Gulag, says that when the West protested the treatment of Soviet political prisoners, their conditions immediately got better. Chinese dissidents have said the same thing—especially when human rights activists have publicized the names of those languishing behind bars.
That is why you and I need to be speaking out next week—which is designated North Korea Freedom Week—over the plight of suffering North Koreans.
Many activities will take place in or near Washington, D.C.—and the list of events reveals the heartbreaking reality of life under Kim Jong-il. On Sunday, April 26, there’s a candlelight vigil in memory of those who escaped North Korea, only to be repatriated by the Chinese and face torture, imprisonment, and execution when they were back in North Korea. There’s the North Korean Genocide Exhibit on display near Washington’s Union Station, memorializing the 3 million people who have died since the mid-1990s under North Korea’s brutal dictatorship.
On Wednesday, there’s a special screening of a film titled Kimjongilia, a documentary exposing the so-called “Dear Leader’s” vicious human rights abuses. On Saturday, there’s a protest at the Chinese embassy over China’s treatment of North Korean refugees.
Organizers also plan visits to members of Congress and attend panel discussions—meetings that will expose other moral horrors. For example, more than 200,000 North Koreans—including children—are being held in political prison camps for such “crimes” as listening to foreign radio broadcasts or practicing Christianity. Up to one million Koreans have been worked to death or starved to death in these camps.
Many North Korean women are sold to human traffickers, who either re-sell them to brothels or to Chinese “husbands” who cannot find brides because of China’s “one-child” policy.
Suzanne Scholte, president of the Defense Forum Foundation, calls North Korea “the worst human rights situation in the world today.” While there are many atrocities being committed worldwide, she notes, “the North Korean people are the most isolated, most persecuted, and most suffering.”
If you live near Washington, please consider attending some of these events. And we need everyone listening pray for America’s leaders, whose decisions will help determine how North Koreans will be treated over the next few years. This is truly a life-and-death worldview issue.
Will we allow our leaders to ignore the plight of the North Korean people? Will we allow food aid and economic assistance—enough to feed every starving North Korean family—to be diverted for the use of North Korean elites or funding for Kim Jong-il’s nuclear weapons program?
For more information about North Korean Freedom Week, visit www.NKFreedom.org. And if you visit BreakPoint’s website, you’ll find ways to assist nonprofits who are working to help feed and assist the North Korean people.
Finally, if you haven’t put your Christian brethren in North Korea near the top of your prayer list, do so. We must pray fervently that God will give His people, whom He loves, the strength to hold fast to their faith.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.