At the recent UNHRC meetings in Geneva, human rights activists and officials from across the globe have been working to condemn the actions of North Korea and pressure China into granting refugee status to North Korean citizens who have fled across the border.
Protests in front of the Chinese embassy began in Seoul in February and have carried on since. Concerned citizens were joined by South Korean celebrities and several politicians on the steps of the embassy to protest the Chinese repatriation of North Korean refugees. Former North Korean defectors, including prominent professor Lee Ae-ran, joined the groups as well, adding to the authority and authenticity of the event.
The protests were highlighted by Liberty Forward Party’s Park Sun Young’s 11 day hunger strike which began on February 21st. After losing nearly 6 kilograms during the hunger strike, Park eventually collapsed on March 2nd and was taken to a local hospital. The protests in Seoul have continued despite her absence.
After resting in hospital for several days, Park traveled to Geneva on March 10th with former National Assembly speaker Kim Hyung-Oh as well as Saenuri Party Members Ahn Hyoung--hwan and Lee Eun Jae to press the UNHRC to take action.
On March 12th and 13th, Park and her delegation met with several high ranking UN officials, as well as attended an open presentation by a North Korean defector who had formerly been repatriated back to North Korea.
After the meetings, the group of South Korean lawmakers, along with several North Korean human rights groups, held a rally outside the U.N. office urging the international community to save the defectors held inside China.
After leaving the proceedings at the U.N., the group then marched to the Chinese mission in Geneva. They attempted to submit a letter of protest regarding the refugees to the officials inside the mission. The group then attempted to submit the letter to the North Korean mission, but were turned away there as well.
The letter called for China to recognize the refugees as “cold and hungry refugees who risked their lives to go to the Republic of Korea(south Korea) or a third country via China”