South Korean human rights activists are outraged by China’s detention of dozens of North Korean defectors in recent weeks.
One hundred protesters gathered outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul to express their anger at the arrests, citing that once the defectors are deported back to North Korea they face imprisonment, torture and even death.
According to reports, the demonstrators held up banners which read: The Chinese government should stop pushing North Korean defectors toward the guillotine and Forced repatriation is a death sentence.
China has long maintained a policy of returning North Korean defectors to Pyongyang, although tens of thousands of North Koreans are believed to have slipped into mainland China over the years.
The topic has taken on a particularly dangerous turn in recent months after the new leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un has reportedly vowed to take vengeance on defectors by killing three generations of their families.
Once these defectors are sent back, they will surely die. They will be tortured and publicly executed, said Kim Young-ja, secretary-general of the activist group Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, according to the Los Angeles Times. We are trying to push the Chinese government to stop that from happening. Especially after Kim Jong Un’s strict ordinance last December, there's no escape from death.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea reported that different groups of North Korean defectors were detained by Chinese officials. In the most recent incident, ten people were seized at a bus terminal in the Chinese city of Shenyang in the northeast.
Reportedly, some of these detainees were planning to journey to South Korea to reunite with family members already there.
Thousands of North Korean defectors are currently living in South Korea. The South Korean government said they are negotiating with Beijing officials to discuss the fate of the arrested defectors.
Our government has always had an interest in the defector problem, and we have been asking the Chinese government to handle the matter from a humanistic point of view, said Cho Byung-je, a spokesman for the South Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul, in a statement.
Defectors should not be forcibly repatriated.