Tell Congress to Tighten North Korean Sanctions

633266

(Watch video here.)

You’ve heard of US student, Otto Warmbier’s, recent death after returning home from North Korea. This has once again shone a light on the horrors of North Korea and has left many asking “what more can the US do?” Though some feel we have tried everything only to receive disheartening results, the US Foreign Affairs Committee is convinced that we can do more. The committee released a statement debunking some common myths about US relations with North Korea. See the myths vs. facts below:

Myth: “North Korea is the most sanctioned country in the world.”

Fact: Serious pressure on North Korea has been applied unevenly, only to be lifted prematurely for promises that never materialized. And as the Wall Street Journal’s David Feith noted, North Korea may not even be in the top five most-sanctioned countries, with Iran, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe and Belarus facing tougher sanctions. “That began to change only last year,” Feith continued, “…with the passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act pushed by Rep. Ed Royce.”

Myth: “We’ve tried to put pressure, through China, on North Korea in the past and it just hasn’t done anything.”

Fact: After implementation of sanctions in 2005 against China-based Banco Delta Asia – which was doing business with the North Korean government – the Kim regime saw its flows of hard currency greatly restricted, reducing its ability to fund its illicit weapons programs. But the sanctions were lifted prematurely for more empty promises from the regime. Third-party sanctions against international banks currently doing business with the regime would have the same effect now.

Myth: “The U.S. has limited options” to address North Korean threats.

Fact: There is plenty of room to ratchet up pressure on Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s ruling class. One of the best options the United States has is Chairman Ed Royce’s Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act [H.R. 1644], which passed the House last month by an overwhelming vote of 419-1. Specifically, the bill:

  • Expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons program;
  • Targets those overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, a source of billions of dollars in annual revenue for the regime;
  • Cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports; and
  • Requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism.

It’s time for the Senate to act on Chairman Royce’s bill. Doing so will give the United States powerful new tools to address North Korean threats.

We ask you to contact your Senator today, and urge him/her to support the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.

Persecuted Christians: Victims of Torture

Yang-hua

(Image from Church in Chains)

Today marks the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The UN recognizes that torture is an evil practice in any form and constitutes a crime against humanity.

At Jubilee Campaign, we know that persecuted Christians are a targeted group for torture. Torture is often used by governments or others to punish Christians for their faith or as a means to try to force them to recant their faith.

A current victim of this type of persecution is Pastor Yang Hua. Yang was the pastor for a house church in Guizhou province. He has been detained since December 2015. He was arrested during a police raid of the church when he tried to stop the police from taking a hard drive. He was then charged with “divulging state secrets.”

During his time in detention he reported that his prosecutors tortured him, threatened to kill him, and threatened his family. Despite his allegations against them, these prosecutors were allowed to remain on the case.

On December 26, 2016, Pastor Yang was put on trial for the charges against him. Public members were banned from the premises and Yang’s wife was forcibly removed from the court, escorted home, and monitored by police. In January this year, his sentence of two years and six months in prison was announced.

The church has been banned and other church leaders fear arrest. Despite their many hardships, Pastor Yang and his wife have shown steadfast faith the Lord. We ask that today you pray for Pastor Yang and other victims of torture and persecution. Pray for their strength and comfort and that they may be a testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ.

World Refugee Day: Refugees in South East Asia

masih-chained-to-bed-bcpa
(Image from British Pakistani Christian Association)

This Sunday marks another opportunity for churches to set aside time to show concern and support for refugees!

Jubilee Campaign has long supported refugees fleeing Pakistan.

In Pakistan, Christians are regularly discriminated against, harassed, and attacked for their faith. Blasphemy laws, which prohibit any utterance against Islam, are used maliciously against Christians. Christians accused of blasphemy can face hefty fines, life in prison, or even death.

In its 2016 Annual Report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that approximately 40 Pakistanis are currently serving life sentences or are sentenced to death under blasphemy charges.

In addition, churches and places of worship are often targeted and attacked, school curriculum discriminates against religious minorities, and Christians fear being attacked or killed for speaking about their faith or against blasphemy laws. This fear has led religious minorities, especially Christians, to seek refuge in other countries.

Jubilee Campaign works to both prevent Pakistani Christians from turning into refugees and assisting those who have already fled the country. Our first step is prevention. We tirelessly advocate for a more inclusive political and social environment for religious minorities in Pakistan. This includes advocating for the repeal of blasphemy laws in the country and encouraging efforts to combat extremism.

We also aid those who have already been forced to leave. Thousands of Pakistani Christians have to make a quick escape by obtaining a visitor’s visa to Thailand. Once there, they apply for asylum with the United Nations refugee office located in Bangkok. There are approximately 10,000 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers currently in Bangkok.

Due to a backlog in processing by the UN, these asylum seekers end up overstaying their visitor’s visas. Since Thailand is not signed on to international law protecting refugees, they are considered illegal. Thai authorities regularly round up these asylum seekers and throw them in jail or the Immigration Detention Center, where they live in cramped and dirty conditions.

A sad report came out just this month of a Christian Pakistani man who died in a detention center because he was denied medical treatment. This is not how refugees should be treated. We are continuously advocating for the better treatment of refugees in Bangkok.

Jubilee Campaign financially partners with an organization in Bangkok to provide food, housing, and education to Pakistani Christians in Thailand. If you would like to donate to support a family, please give here.

Otto Warmbier’s death a testimony to life in North Korea

Jubilee Campaign is a member of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea. We would like to share the below ICNK statement with you discussing Otto Warmbier’s tragic death due to his time in North Korea.
 icnk
(Seoul – June 23, 2017) — The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) expresses its profound sadness and concern over the death of US citizen Otto Warmbier.
 
“It makes Mr. Warmbier’s death no less tragic to observe that every North Korean must live every day with the awareness that the slightest departure from Pyongyang’s repressive laws and orders could result in arbitrary detention without trial, life-long imprisonment in a ‘gulag’ prison camp, torture, or execution,” said Eun Kyoung Kwon, Secretary-General of the ICNK.
 
While ICNK does not yet know the exact cause of Mr. Warmbier’s death, there is no doubt that North Korea bears responsibility for arbitrarily arresting him, sending him to trial in a court where basic fair trial principles and procedures were ignored, and then incarcerating him in a way that made it possible to suffer grievous injury. The fact that North Korea held Warmbier for more than a year while he was in a coma, depriving him of access to advanced medical treatment, was also an outrageous violation of his rights. The treatment that Warmbier received at the hands of North Korean authorities is consistent with the kinds of abuse experienced by thousands of North Koreans held for so-called political crimes.
 
Mr. Warmbier’s alleged ‘crime’ was taking down a propaganda banner from a staff-only area of his hotel during his tour group’s visit to North Korea. For that perceived insult to the government and the ruling Workers Party of Korea, he was arrested, forced to confess, judged without receiving any legal assistance, and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in an arbitrary and unjust manner similar to what many North Koreans have experienced.
 
Over the past 20 years, North Korea has arrested 16 US citizens on various trumped up charges. To date, three of them remain in custody. Over the same time period, hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens have been held in the country’s vast system of labor camps for allegedly deviating from Pyongyang’s insistence on absolute loyalty to the ruling Kim family dynasty.
 
“The only comfort we can offer to the Warmbier family is that we will not cease our work on human rights in North Korea, until the perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice,” concluded Eun Kyoung Kwon.
______
 
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea is a joint effort of over 40 human rights groups worldwide that seeks to protect the human rights of North Koreans and to hold the Pyongyang government accountable for its abuses and violations of the human rights of the North Korean people.

Pakistani Christian refugee dies in Thai detention center

Last month, 35-year-old Pakistani Christian Ijaz Masih passed away after he was refused medical treatment by the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok, Thailand. Masih was in Bangkok with his wife and three children seeking international refugee protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

masih-chained-to-bed-bcpa

(Photo from British Christian Pakistani Association)

According to reports, Masih had been complaining of chest pain, then died of a heart attack just a few hours later. Just a few months prior, he had suffered a stroke due to the stress of being detained and the stress that comes with seeking refugee protection. Masih was apparently detained for more than a year for an illegal entry charge. His case had been rejected by the UNHCR just the day before.

Masih is not the first to die while detained at the IDC. At least two others have died in recent years due to negligence by the IDC. Multiple reports have called on the Thai government to improve the conditions of the detention facility, but none have been made.

Individuals who are detained face crowded cells, horrible unsanitary conditions, diseases, and poor ventilation. In addition, the authorities do not hesitate to detain children, which is prohibited by international law signed by the Thai government.

Jubilee Campaign continues to urge the Thai government to improve the conditions of the IDC. Jubilee Campaign has recommended that the Thai government implement alternatives to detention, such as regular police check-in’s. This would not only prevent overcrowding, but would prevent negligence, such as in the case of Ijaz Masih.

In addition, Jubilee Campaign continues to encourage the Thai government to become a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Since the Thai government is not already a signatory, it has no obligation to protect refugees. In Thailand, refugees are denied access to health care, work, and education and are vulnerable to detainment at the IDC.

We have partnered with an organization in Bangkok that assists refugees with housing, food, and education for the children. This organization also visits those detained in the IDC and brings healthy meals, toiletries, and provides visits and communication between those detained and their families. Please consider donating so that we may continue to help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please pray for the Thai government to show these refugees mercy, and to immediately stop the arrests. In addition, please pray for the UNHCR officers to have the wisdom to discern legitimate cases that need to be granted refugee protection.