Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, February 27, 2006

Leadership Council for Human Rights Supports Letter by Members of Congress Urging State Department Action on North Korea

WASHINGTON, DC – The Leadership Council for Human Rights applauds Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Evan Bayh, Sen. James Leach, Sen. Joseph Pitts, Rep. Frank Wolf, Rep. Henry Hyde, Rep. Tom Lantos, Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Eni Faleomavaega for their stand against egregious human rights violations in North Korea. This bi-partisan group of Senators and Members of Congress submitted a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday expressing their concern for the lack of progress in funding and implementing the North Korean Human Rights Act, which President Bush signed into law in October, 2004.

The letter, inspired by the testimony of North Korean defectors Ma Soon-Hee, Cha Kyeong-Sook and Kim Seung-Min during a Congressional hearing last fall, focuses on the problems facing asylum seekers. The letter states:

“Foremost among our concerns, we note that despite the fact that the act calls for the Department of State to facilitate the submission of North Korean refugee applications, not one North Korean has been offered asylum or refugee status in the 16 months since the unanimous passage of the legislation. Even worse, according to the congressional testimony delivered by Helping Hands Korea, some State Department employees at our embassies in China, Vietnam and Thailand have actually refused to assist North Korean refugees who were at terrible risk.”

To address this problem, the letter continues, the State Department should “play a leadership role…to establish a first asylum policy for North Koreans, as was done in the 1970’s for thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people.’” The Members urge Rice to act quickly as “deplorable human rights conditions and continuing starvation” plaguing North Koreans.

LCHR is working with the indigenous people of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, many of whom are seeking asylum like their counterparts in North Korea. LCHR is one of many groups participating in the North Korea Freedom Week, scheduled to take place April 22-30, 2006. Show solidarity with those suffering human rights abuses at the Freedom Week rally on April 28, 2006 at 11:30 a.m.


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