North Korea Freedom Week

Four years ago, President Bush described the “axis of evil,” nations that, through their actions within and beyond their borders, “threaten the peace of the world.” While two of the axis members—Iraq and Iran—are seldom, if ever, out of the news, the third member, North Korea, gets only a fraction of the coverage. This despite the fact that North Korea already has nuclear weapons and its leaders have already killed far more people than even Saddam Hussein. It seems that the only way North Korea is going to get the attention it warrants is if Christians force the issue. North Korea is often called the “Hermit Kingdom” because of its isolation from the rest of the world. This nickname, which conjures up images of monks in serene repose, ought to give way to one that more accurately captures the essence of Kim Jong-Il: charnel house. The land of morning calm has become the repository for the bones of Kim’s victims. Since Kim Jong-Il succeeded his father in 1994, more than two million North Korean men, women, and children have died from starvation. Another 400,000 have perished in political prison camps, and I’ve seen reports from those camps. It’s horrifying. Fleeing Kim’s nightmare is hardly better. Those seeking to escape through China are “victimized by traffickers, hunted down by police, and forcibly repatriated.” China will not allow humanitarian organizations or the UN to feed and shelter North Korean refugees. To complete this hellish scenario, “children whose parents have died or been separated from them wander the streets in search of food and protection.” If this reminds you of places like the Cambodian “Killing Fields,” you’re right. And, just as with Cambodia, the world has turned a collective blind eye. If Kim hadn’t developed nuclear weapons, nobody would have cared what happened in North Korea. No one, that is, except the people of conscience like Christians. Groups like the North Korea Freedom Coalition work to keep the suffering of North Koreans from being another case of “out of sight and out of mind.” The first North Korea Freedom Day rally in 2004 led to the North Korea Human Rights Act, which we helped pass in the Congress. The act commits the United States to “defend human rights and bring humanitarian aid to those suffering in North Korea.” Yet, to date, “not a single North Korean refugee has been helped by the Act’s application,” a result that Representative Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) calls “shameful.” Well, it’s time to make ourselves heard again because our Christian brothers are in prison in North Korea and being brutalized and murdered in those camps. April 22-30 has been designated North Korea Freedom Week. The scheduled activities include congressional hearings, the North Korea Genocide Exhibit, and an all-night prayer vigil at the Chinese Embassy. These efforts will culminate at the North Korea Freedom Day rally on April 28 at the U.S. Capitol. We need your help if we’re going to have any effect. For the Human Rights Act to be more than a piece of paper, our elected officials need to hear from their constituents. You can call us here at BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527) to get their addresses and phone numbers. And also visit our website for more information. Our elected officials need to know that somebody is paying attention, and that is our job as Christians.


Chuck Colson


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