Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, July 20, 2006

“We are here today to say ‘enough’”: The U.S. Reaction to the Horrors Faced by North Korean Refugees

July 19, 2006

North Korean refugees appeared at a Senate press conference sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback on Wednesday, describing to members of the press the horrors they endured while imprisoned or after trying to escape North Korea. Kim Jong-Il’s catastrophic reign of terror was discussed in relation to basic human rights concerning North Koreans. Brownback and Representative Joseph Pitts began by introducing the issues at hand and talking about how the United States wishes to get involved.

Because so many millions of North Koreans are starving, suffering, and dying, Brownback discussed a multi-lateral framework in which a Bipartisan coalition can be formed in order to meet to address human rights, and to achieve the U.S. government’s long-term goal of spreading democracy all over the world, specifically within the South Korean Peninsula.

When the North Korean refugees entered the room, they were limiting their identities as much as possible by wearing hats and sunglasses and some even covering their faces with their hands. They spoke of their imprisonments and the torture they experienced and answered questions about the violations of their basic human rights. One crucial fact that was discussed was the two identified sins in North Korea which were defined as 1). trying to flee the nation, and 2). believing in God.

One refugee, “Joseph”, briefly discussed his experiences. He was sent to prison in China as a North Korean refugee and found no protection under the laws there. He was brutally tortured—“they twisted my fingers with pliers”—and starved. Another refugee spoke of how many went so hungry they resorted to cannibalism.

Without the courage of those refugees to describe the unbearable atrocities they underwent, the U.S. would not have as much knowledge to initiate a mission of protection for the North Koreans in need.

Representative Joseph Pitts reiterated the horrors faced by North Koreans: the women who are trafficked, sold as sex slaves, raped, and abused, and the men who go to prison camps, who are starved and tortured, and who are oppressed. The United States has come to accept those persecuted and in need of help. Thus, Pitts articulated his innermost thoughts in support of those in danger: “We are here today to stand in solidarity. We are here today to say ‘enough’. ‘Enough’.”


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