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Rights Groups in South Korea Urge China to Cease Deportation of Defectors from North Korea

A group of Korean American protesters gathered to call for an end to the Chinese communist regime’s repatriation of North Korean defectors. They emphasized the severe consequences, including punishment, sexual abuse, and even death, that these individuals could face upon their forced return to North Korea.

On Nov. 14, members of Korean rights groups and communities from New York and surrounding areas came together at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. They were advocating for the rights of North Korean refugees and urging Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping to release the North Korean defectors who were being detained in Chinese prisons. This protest occurred during Mr. Xi’s visit to the United States for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in San Francisco, where he met with President Joe Biden on Nov. 15. , various Chinese rights defenders, activists, and religious groups also held protests against the CCP for its authoritarian rule and abuse of human rights during the same time. The organizers stated that the Chinese government had recently repatriated 620 North Korean defectors who were being held in five Chinese prisons. Furthermore, last month, over 500 people from North Korea who had fled their country were reportedly sent back by the Chinese authorities, leading Human Rights Watch to express their concern for the returnees who are mostly women and are at a grave risk of being detained in forced labor camps and could face torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, and even execution.

During the event, a representative from the Korean American Association of Great New York called for the Chinese and other foreign governments to treat North Korean defectors humanely. Another representative stated that the CCP’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors was an act of cruelty.

A North Korean defector shared his story of his forced return from China 23 years ago and how he managed to avoid the death penalty imposed by the North Korean regime. After relocating to the United States, he continued to protest in front of the North Korean Permanent Mission to the U.N. and the Chinese Consulate in New York every Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

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