SOUTH KOREA: ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE PASSES RESOLUTION AGAINST CHINA'S REPATRIATION OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS
February 24, 2012: a South Korean parliamentary committee adopted a resolution demanding China stop repatriating North Korean defectors to their homeland.
The resolution came as a group of defectors caught in China were reportedly at risk of being deported to the North, where they were feared to face harsh persecution and even execution.
The resolution submitted by Rep. Park Sun-young of the Liberty Forward Party and signed by 29 lawmakers, passed through the National Assembly committee on foreign affairs and unification in its general meeting also attended by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.
The resolution condemns Beijing's forced repatriation of defectors and calls on China to follow the international law on refugees when handling North Koreans who have fled their impoverished homeland.
It is unclear how many defectors were facing repatriation as there was wide discrepancy between sources.
The Yonhap news agency said that more than 30 North Korean defectors were reportedly caught by Chinese authorities in February and were awaiting repatriation to the North.
The Chosun Ilbo puts the figure at 200. It quotes the defectors' group North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity as saying that the refugees may be killed once they arrive back in North Korea. "Security forces and senior party officials are intimidating and threatening their families. Rumors are spreading that they will be executed to set an example," the group reportedly said.
Nine of them were believed to have already been repatriated over the weekend 17-19 February, informed sources said. (Sources: Yonhap, The Chosun Ilbo, 24/02/2012)