September 21, 2009
Soon Ok Lee's testimony about her treatment as a prisoner of North Korea is enough to turn your stomach. "I felt like I had two heads because my shoulder bone protruded so much," she says. "I felt like I had become an alien, not a human being. ... I was just like a beast. I was treated just like an animal, just like a slave."
In order to shed light on abuses like these, the North Korean Freedom Coalition is holding an International Protest to Save North Korean Refugees on September 24. Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the Coalition, says the group usually holds this event in December, but the refugee situation is deteriorating so rapidly that that the group felt the protest needed to be held immediately.
The date of the protest — September 24 — was chosen for a reason. This was the date, in 1982, that China, which shares a border with North Korea, signed onto the 1951 Refugees Convention — an agreement that China violates daily.
Thousands of North Koreans escape into China every year. China captures many of them and repatriates them back to North Korea, where they face torture and imprisonment — similar to what Soon Ok Lee experienced.
Equally bad, instead of being repatriated, some Korean women are forced into Chinese brothels, or into forced marriages with Chinese men who lack wives because of China's one-child policy.
Because the North Korea Freedom Coalition believes the United States can and must do much more to help, several events are being held in Washington next week.
North Korean refugees who have escaped and resettled in the United States will hold a press conference near the State Department and deliver a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with action items.
A special showing of the film Crossing will be shown both on Capitol Hill and at a local church. If you live in the D.C. area and want to attend, you can sign up on the North Korea Freedom Coalition website. And you can visit BreakPoint.org for information about other events around the country.
If you don't live near a city where a demonstration or vigil is taking place, you can still help show your support, and perhaps ease the suffering of the North Korean people. You can, for instance, tell friends and family about the human rights catastrophe in North Korea, and host an informational event at your school or church.
Or you can help fund a balloon launch over North Korea, which gets radios and money into the hands of the North Korean people. Or you can contact one of China's embassies or consulates to demand that China stop violating the 1951 Refugees Convention. Again, visit BreakPoint.org for more information.
Since the mid-1990s, some 3 million people have died at the hands of North Korea's brutal government through deliberate starvation, torture, execution, and horrific treatment in concentration camps. Thousands of children — if they are not killed outright with their parents — roam the streets looking for food.
We don't like to fill our minds with such dreadful images — of people suffering so terribly. But the Bible tells us to suffer with those who suffer. And remember, as we've talked about before on BreakPoint, many of those being persecuted and killed are followers of Jesus. We should pray daily for their welfare — and work for their ultimate freedom.
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.