Target: Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith
Goal: Condemn the Laos Government for deporting North Korean defectors
Nine North Korean defectors, ranging from ages 15-23, were cautiously optimistic about their escape from North Korea into China. If they were caught they would be deported by Chinese authorities, and they were all visibly malnourished. Some suffered from an unknown skin disease, tuberculosis, and frostbite. These scars come from their horrendous living conditions in North Korea and their perilous trek into China. They were assisted by anonymous South Korean missionaries living in China, who housed them for two years and successfully hid them from Chinese border security.
Their ill-fated destination was Laos. The missionaries wanted to help the defectors seek asylum in Laos and request safe passage into South Korea or the United States. The missionaries had successfully assisted defectors in the past, but this time they were not so fortunate. Laos immigration authorities had been investigating them for weeks, and stopped the bus on which they were travelling. The missionaries were reassured by the authorities that the refugees they had been sheltering were going to be sent to South Korea, and they were asked to wait in a locked room for two hours. During that time, the Laos immigration authorities rounded all the defectors and deported them back to North Korea via the China border.
Their deportation was confirmed by a North Korea state video. In a statement that was most likely given under duress, the group said they were duped into escaping and that with the grace of Kim Jung Un they were allowed back into the country. However, their fate is unknown because people caught escaping the country are usually tortured, imprisoned, or executed. In the last few seconds of the video, you could see a heart wrenching expression of fear and grief on a young female defector’s face.
The Laos Foreign Ministry had made a public statement saying that the North Koreans were in their country illegally and accused the missionaries of human trafficking. However, the United Nations and human rights group have criticized the Laos government for their morally bankrupt actions. Sign this petition to condemn the Laos government for deporting the North Korean defectors.
Dear Foreign Minister Sisoulith,
North Koreans refugees who have been deported back to their native country had an opportunity for a better life in Laos, but your government robbed them of it. International law requires that a person be allowed to apply for asylum and not be expelled to a country where their lives might be endangered. Not only have you broken international norms, but it is unconscionable to send these people back to where they will most likely face inhumane punishment or even death.
Your government’s lack of human sympathy is truly deplorable. It has blood on its hands.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: giladr via Flickr