As human rights activists prepare to cut the ribbon to open the North Korea Genocide Exhibit in Riverdale, Md., Monday evening, family and activists are making an unprecedented move to stop the public execution of a North Korean man.
Over the weekend, the accounts of depravity from North Korean defectors and former abductees in the communist regime set the tone for a full week of North Korea Freedom Day activities set to take place in the nation's capital. At the same time, outside the South Korean government complex were protests to rescue John Nam Son - the first time that an appeal has been issued to prevent the known execution of a named individual in North Korea from taking place, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
CSW along with five North Korean defector organizations working for human rights, have broadened their efforts to the international community, urging for intervention to stop the planned execution. It is believed that Son was charged for speaking with his brother in China about life in North Korea and, possibly, his connection to Christianity.
Son's brother, Jong Hoon, said at a press conference reported by The Daily NK that he only spoke to him about his siblings and "what North Koreans think of the Kim John Il regime," according to CSW.
"He shouldn't be executed for the crime of betrayal or espionage. His execution needs to be stopped."
While Jong Hoon successfully reached South Korea in 2002, Jong Nam was repatriated in 2001 after having defected from North Korea. After three years of imprisonment in a prison camp, he was released on parole in May 2004, when he met his brother in China. Son was arrested in January 2006 in Pyongyang after an individual who helped him travel to China let word out about his visit.
The human rights organizations - Association of North Korean Defectors, Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag, Free North Korean Broadcasting, Free North Korean Broadcasting and 8,000 North Koreans - are asking the international community to help stop the public execution of Son.
"We are deeply concerned for the life and welfare of Mr. Son Jong Nam," said CSW's international advocate, Elizabeth Batha. "North Korea practices brutal torture and it is hard to imagine the pain and suffering that will already have been inflicted upon him. We urge the international community to match the bravery and boldness of those who have decided to take this unprecedented step of announcing this to the outside world. We hope that those in a position of influence will be unstinting in strongly urging the North Koreans to abort their plans to carry out this unjust execution."