By Victor Ochieng
Two South Korean Christian pastors have been arrested and locked up by law enforcement officers in mainland China for helping smuggle persecuted defectors from North Korean.
“The arrested pastors are known to have insisted that they helped North Korean defectors as they were at risk of being repatriated to the North where human rights violations are serious,” an official from Justice for North Korea said, according to Yonhap News.
Sources intimate that the two pastors, who were separately locked up, are known for assisting North Korean defectors in China. They mainly focus on defectors who’re facing the prospect of being returned to their country, where human rights violation is rampant. The two pastors’ wives had also earlier been arrested and questioned by the authorities before they were set free.
An official attached to Seoul’s foreign ministry said the two pastors are being held at a detention facility in Liaoning Province in northeast China.
“Our consulate general in Shenyang has held meetings with our (detained) nationals and provided practical consular assistance, including information on hiring a lawyer and requesting humanitarian treatment from the Chinese public safety authorities,” said the official, whose name wasn’t provided. “We will continue to provide consular help.”
It’s not the first time news is coming out about South Korean Christian missionaries being arrested in China. In February this year, Chinese authorities arrested four South Korean Christian ministers and kicked out 32 others following a series of raids in different churches. Reports revealed that the arrested missionaries were also involved in smuggling of North Koreans out of the country, and they were living in northeast Yanji region.
A global conglomeration of human rights organizations last week appealed to global leaders to up pressure on North Korea to address the issue of human rights violation in the country.
“Essentially, North Korea is the most oppressive regime in the world; it is certainly the most closed, isolated country in the world. It’s a regime that stands accused by the U.N.’s own Commission of Inquiry of crimes against humanity,” Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said.
The country’s leadership has been accused of human rights abuse cases that amount to crimes against humanity, including the jailing of between 100,000 and 200,000 for political crimes, with the prisoners being taken through serious torture, slave labor, s*xual harassment and violence, denial of medical attention and, in some cases, execution.
According to Open Doors USA and other watchdog groups, Christians are among those most likely to be targeted by the tyrannical North Korean government. The country has regularly ranked among the most dangerous countries in the world for a Christian to practice faith.