News

    US Lawmakers Urge China to Change Course on N. Korean Defectors

    A North Korean defector holds a banner during a rally for North Korean refugees who were repatriated by the Chinese government, in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (2011 File)
    A North Korean defector holds a banner during a rally for North Korean refugees who were repatriated by the Chinese government, in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (2011 File)

    China is facing growing calls to stop the repatriation of dozens of North Koreans who recently fled into China and are being held by authorities. China says it has the right to send them back, calling them "economic migrants."  But human rights activists say the detainees could face torture and execution, if they are returned to North Korea.

    U.S. lawmakers held a hearing on Monday to highlight the urgency of the situation.

    Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey and head of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said that in recent weeks Chinese authorities have detained dozens of North Koreans who have fled to China.

    Smith said they will face dire consequences, if they return to North Korea.

    "North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, has threatened to quote 'exterminate three generations' of any family with a member caught defecting from North Korea during the 100 day mourning period of the late Kim Jong Il.  And frankly, I believe him," said Smith.

    Instead of sending them back to North Korea, as China has been done for years, U.S. lawmakers, human rights activists and two North Korean defectors are urging Beijing to take a different course.

    In her testimony before the commission, North Korean defector Songhwa Han said the reason she fled North Korea many years ago for the first time was so she could feed her children.  Han said she crossed the waist-high waters of the Tumen River into China, carrying her malnourished seven-year-old daughter in a sack and holding her elder daughter's hand as they braved the icy currents.

    Han said she was forcibly repatriated to North Korea four times, before finally escaping overseas.  

    Han said repatriated North Koreans had to become animals to survive.  She said that after defectors were handed over to North Korean authorities, they were told they were dogs and that they were allowed only to look down at the ground.  Prisoners were chained to one another and were beaten with the butt of a gun, if they made any noise.

    Her daughter, Jinhye Jo, also testified at the hearing.

    Jo said it was hunger that led her family to flee North Korea, and that they had to contend with Chinese authorities searching for North Korean defectors and human traffickers.  

    Jo said that when she thinks of what she endured while being held in North Korea, she fears it would be far worse for the dozens of North Koreans now being held in China once they are repatriated.

    According to the State Department's 2010 human rights report, it is estimated that thousands of North Koreans are hiding in China.  Reports and testimonies of those who have been forcibly repatriated tell of beatings, torture, forced labor and sexual violence against those who are caught.

    Suzanne Scholte, a human rights activist working on behalf of North Korean defectors, says China is prolonging the refugee crisis.

    "China fears an increasing flow of refugees, if it allows refugees safe passage to South Korea.  But China's actions are ensuring that there will always be refugees by relieving Kim Jong Un of taking any measures that would improve conditions in North Korea," said Scholte. "North Koreans are fleeing North Korea out of desperation.  They know the considerable risks they are taking, and most North Koreans desire to return to North Korea once conditions improve."

    In recent weeks, calls for China to stop its repatriation of North Korean defectors have increased, and South Korea has played a key role in drawing international attention to the issue.

    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has urged China to refrain from repatriating North Korean defectors if they are not involved in criminal activity.  Seoul has also raised the issue with a United Nations panel on human rights and in meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in South Korea last week.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John djang
    March 06, 2012 5:24 PM
    have sympathy on the refugees, hope my government to figure out better solutions.

    by: Cả Thộn
    March 06, 2012 2:06 PM
    China is so afraid that another million NK to come if they accept refugees. But it is heartless to send those refugees back to die under Kim Young-un regime.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora