|4/15/2008: EVENT ADVISORY: Release of USCIRF Report on North Korea|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2008
Contact: Judith Ingram,
(202) 523-3240, ext. 127
A Prison Without Bars: Refugee and Defector Testimonies of Severe Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea
Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 1-2 p.m.
Cannon House Building, Room 340
WASHINGTON- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom will release its updated report on religious freedom and related human rights in North Korea, entitled A Prison Without Bars: Refugee and Defector Testimonies of Severe Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea, at a press conference the day before South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. for a summit with President Bush. The discussion of the report, with Commission Chair Michael Cromartie and Commissioners Nina Shea and Imam Talal Y. Eid, will be followed by a briefing, co-sponsored by the Congressional Korea Caucus.
A Prison Without Bars offers fresh evidence regarding the grave situation of North Korean asylum seekers who have been forcibly repatriated from China back to North Korea. Contrary to claims made by the Chinese government, repatriated North Koreans face severe persecution, including harsh interrogations, long-term imprisonment, and torture if they are found to have converted to Christianity or had contact with South Korean Christians or churches while in China. The report provides evidence that the cult of personality surrounding Kim Jong Il and his family remains strong, and that Kim Jong Il's regime perceives any new religious activity as a security threat to be combated at all costs. As a result, stringent security measures have been enacted to stop the spread of religion, mostly Protestantism, through cross-border contacts with China.
A Prison Without Bars follows up the Commission's 2005 study on North Korea's brutal suppression of religious freedom, Thank You Father Kim Il Sung. The Commission's new report again presents the opportunity to gain insight into human rights conditions in the "Hermit Kingdom" by providing a channel for North Korean nationals to present their experiences to the international community.
According to refugees interviewed for the report:
According to former North Korean security agents, who were also interviewed for this report:
Immediately following the press conference, the Commission will conduct a congressional briefing on human rights in North Korea, jointly sponsored with the Congressional Korea Caucus. The briefing will feature David Hawk, a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy; Peter Beck, Executive Director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; and Jae Ku, Executive Director of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Several Members of Congress are also expected to participate in the briefing.