Stop the inhumane repatriation

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Stop the inhumane repatriation

The Chinese government is allegedly planning to repatriate 35 North Koreans who fled their country because of poverty or political persecution after already having deported more than 116 North Korean defectors last July. It is alleged that some of the defectors obtained South Korean citizenship after having fled to the South a long time ago.

As a result, our government and the National Assembly are demanding that Beijing immediately stop the inhumane practice and guarantee the defectors’ safe re-entry to the South. Based on its previous handling of defectors, however, it is not clear what China will do.

As all of the 35 defectors will most likely be sent back to the North in just a few days, it is urgent that our government come up with effective measures to deal with the situation.

We believe that the Chinese government will adhere to its policy of cracking down on North Korean defectors by forcing their repatriation based on the idea that doing otherwise would trigger a massive influx of refugees to its territory. Also, the Chinese government is likely to take into account the North’s request for a crackdown on the defectors’ illegal entry to China.

It is well known that defectors who are repatriated undergo brutal punishment - including execution. The Chinese authorities’ forcible deportation of those who have risked their lives to escape their country is nothing less than an action against humanity, particularly when Kim Jong-un, the successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has given an order to toughen penalties for defectors.

China has elevated itself to the point where it is now considered a superpower almost on par with the United States. But Beijing’s human rights policy is still outmoded, as clearly exemplified by its cruel treatment of defectors.

Most of the defectors who live in China’s three northeastern provinces have fled their impoverished homeland to eke out a living. They are helpless people in an utterly terrible environment where they must hide their true identity because of the Chinese authorities’ ever-harsher crackdowns on defectors, not to mention being easy prey for frequent human rights abuses and human trafficking.

China should put an end to its merciless policy. If it is really worried about a massive influx of North Koreans, it should devise appropriate measures through international cooperation. Our government must play its part by finding ways to improve the defectors’ miserable lives in China.
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