WASHINGTON – The millions of North Koreans dying of starvation and the tens of thousands of Christians suffering because of their faith in prison camps will be highlighted during this year's North Korea Freedom Week.
Thousands of activists and concerned citizens around the world will unite Apr. 22-29 to protest and raise awareness on the brutal North Korean regime that, in addition to engaging in widespread torture and imprisonment of dissenting voices, has left 37 percent of its children under six chronically malnourished and one-third of North Korean women anemic and malnourished due to mismanagement of food aid, according to a recent report by the World Food Program.
Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition and one of the main organizers of North Korea Freedom Week, anticipates a strong message to be sent to the U.S. government and other global bodies to take greater action on North Korea's human rights abuse. NKFC is sponsoring the Freedom Week, which will bring people together for a series of hearings, panels, exhibits and special events.
"I believe this year's North Korea Freedom Week events will be more significant and have a greater impact than any in the past," said Scholte in a released statement. "It is certainly critical to the growing movement for human rights in North Korea for as many people to participate as possible during this special week."
Highlights of this year's weeklong events include:
• Monday: Panel discussion sponsored by the U.S. Commission for Human Rights in North Korea and DLA Piper on calling the U.N. Security Council to Act on North Korea
• Tuesday: Congressional hearing on China's treatment of North Korean refugees and humanitarian workers on Tuesday
• Thursday: Panel on religious persecution in North Korea
• Friday: Capitol Hill Lunch Forum on promoting freedom and human rights for North Korea
• Saturday: International protest against China's violent treatment of North Korea refugees at the Chinese embassy
• North Korea Genocide Exhibit – open daily 9am – 5 p.m.; ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday
Organizers and participants hope to move North Korea's abuses – which includes experimental torture, medical and chemical experiments, forced abortion, infanticide, starvation and hard labor –to the forefront of negotiations with the reclusive country.
Although North Korea has made news headlines countless times in the past few months, the coverage was mostly on the country's nuclear disarmament negotiations rather than its rights abuses. Human rights activists have argued that human rights abuses affect the average North Korean citizens more than the nuclear issue and therefore should be given priority in talks with the country.
According to Open Doors' 2007 World Watch List, North Korea is the country with the worst persecution of Christians in the world.