Pamela Sciantarelli 0

Petitioning the UNHCR to ensure rights of North Korean Refugees

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Currently, an estimated more than three hundred thousand North Koreans have fled North Korea to escape starvation and various forms of oppression violating basic human rights. In addition, hundreds more are escaping the injustice everyday. The majority of these individuals are subject to perpetual poverty and the absence of all fundamental human rights. The constant fear of repatriation to North Korea forces those who have fled the country to live in hiding. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because of the threat of exposure. Repatriation will result in harsh treatment such as limited food rations supplied by the North Korean government, imprisonment, and even death. In November 2006, analysts from United Nation\'s World Food Programme determined North Korea was on the brink of a famine equal or surpassing the 1994-1998 North Korean famine that resulted in the death of more than 3 million individuals. We can no longer remain complacent regarding the needs of North Korean refugees. We can no longer sit back as they escape the peril of a callous regime only to meet equally unjust persecution abroad. We recognize and applaud the efforts of the United Nations for peace and the alleviation of poverty and injustice throughout the world. For their commitment to serve all citizens of the world, we are deeply grateful. It is in this same light that we petition the United Nations to adhere to the commitments of the 1951 Convention regarding the Status of Refugees. Corresponding with the 1951 Convention Regarding the Status of Refugees, as signers of the petition, we request that United Nations: 1. Uphold Article 1 by granting official refugee status to all North Koreans that have fled or are fleeing North Korea with \"well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion\". 2. Uphold Article 33 by ensuring the prohibition of repatriation of individuals, who upon a forced return to North Korea will result in the \"threat of life or freedom...on account of...race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion\". 3. Hold countries that have signed or ratified the Convention accountable for their treatment of North Korean refugees. We request signatory and ratifying countries acknowledge the fundamental right of all North Koreans living in hiding to seek refugee status without fear of persecution or repatriation. We also request the participating countries make ample efforts to uphold and promote the basic human rights of North Koreans residing within their country.


This petition is sponsered by individuals in contact with North Korean defectors. We have heard and seen the detrimental result of the harsh policies regarding North Korean defectors in neighboring countries.


For more information about the subject, please see the following articles:,9171,1186569,00.html
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