Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Monday 09 November 2009
China: Christians Sentenced for Helping North Koreans
|Two Christians have been sentenced for their part in helping 61 North Korean Christians flee to South Korea through China. Li Mingshun was found guilty of “human smuggling across the border” and sentenced to ten years in prison, while Zhang Yonghu was sentenced to seven years for organising transport for the refugees.||
The refugees, who were trying to escape the severely anti-Christian environment of North Korea, set out to cross the northeastern provinces of China into Mongolia, where neutral state laws allow residents to apply for asylum in South Korea. Authorities in Inner Mongolia, which is an autonomous republic of China, were alerted to the refugees and subsequently arrested several Christians who had helped to provide food, shelter and transportation for the North Koreans.
This verdict highlights the continued persecution that North Koreans face in China, where they are denied refugee status by the Chinese government. Those who are returned to North Korea face terrible consequences, including charges of treason, which is punishable by life imprisonment in brutal labour camps or even death.