From the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC):
February 16, 2015
A friendly reminder of events coming up and two critical action items needing YOUR help....
Conference Commemorating One Year Anniversary of COI: Tomorrow (Tuesday, February 17), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.) is hosting an event to commemorate the one year anniversary of the UN Commission of Inquiry Report. Registration is closed, but you can watch it tomorrow online here: http://csis.org/event/north-korean-human-rights-road-ahead
The Embassy of the Czech Republic invites everyone to a discussion they are hosting on North Korean Child Prisoners with special guests Jinhye Jo and David Hawk, moderated by Dr. Pavel Klein on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6:30 pm. Special Envoy for NK HR Ambassador Robert King will give opening remarks.Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 RSVP by Feb. 17 to: www.eventbrite.com/e/north-korean-child-prisoners-tickets-15553627318
North Korea Freedom Coalition Meeting on Thursday, February 26th--if not yet a member you can join as public member, private member or friend to get all the information here at www.nkfreedom.org.
TWO IMPORTANT ACTION ITEMS:
**your help needed for passage of the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act
**your help needed with plans for the 12th North Korea Freedom Week April 26-May 2nd which we are bringing back to Washington DC this year at the request of the North Korean defectors
Your support for HR 757, North Korea Sanctions Bill Needed: Please take a look at this excellent article by Josh Stanton entitled North Korea: The Myth of Maxed out Sanctions
http://www.fletchersecurity.org/#!stanton/c1vgi which explains the importance of why this bill is needed.
Congressmen Ed Royce and Elliot Engel this month introduced the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 757) to strengthen U.S. sanctions against North Korea. Your efforts last year helped a similar bill unanimously pass the U.S. House of Representatives. In my opinion this legislation is as important and perhaps even more important than the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004. Here's why: despite the great gains in the awareness of the North Korea human rights crisis, the North Koreans are still suffering atrocious human rights abuses every day, and I believe the situation facing refugees is worse than ever before. As long as the Kim Jong Eun regime can continue to rely on the inflow of money from proliferating weapons of mass destruction, illegal drugs, counterfeiting, etc. it can resist any reforms that would help relieve the suffering of the North Korean people. Much like the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004, the U.S. Congress must hear from constituents and organizations that care about this issue to ensure action on this legislation.
Here are action items for HR 757:
First, we are asking American citizens to contact their Members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation. As soon as the legislation is introduced in the Senate, we will want Americans to also write to their two Senators as well. Everything you need to find out about HR 757 including a sample letter can be found at the NKFC Website: http://www.nkfreedom.org/News/H-R-757.aspx
Second, we are asking for both NGO leaders and International NGOs to voice their opinions on this legislation. Letters of support would be best, but simply agreeing to this statement would be terrific:
We support the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (HR 757) as an important and effective tool to provide President Barack Obama of the United States and his administration a greater ability to deny Kim Jong Eun the funds that he uses to finance his luxurious lifestyle while his people face egregious human rights abuses.
If you want to submit a letter of support or just add your name and/or NGO to a list of those supporting HR 757, please let Teresa Ost, our NKFC Secretary, know at this email [email protected]. This is an especially important request for any Korean related and human rights organizations, as Members of Congress will rightfully ask: I see this has bipartisan support from Members of Congress, but what do Korean organizations and human rights groups think of this legislation?
12th annual North Korea Freedom Week 2015 April 26-May 2 Can 2015, the 70th anniversary of South Korea's freedom, become the year of North Korea's freedom? As previously written,North Korea Freedom Week is coming back to Washington DC at the request of the defectors NGOs after having been held in Seoul the past five years. The main focus will be what can be done to secure North Korea's freedom and the role of North Korean defectors in reunification. Some background: North Korea Freedom Week is an annual event held for the specific purpose of promoting the freedom, human rights and dignity of the North Korean people through raising awareness and action. It was first established in 2004 as a single day to galvanize public support in the United States for the North Korea Human Rights Act. On April 28, 2004, the first North Korea Freedom Day, one thousand people came to Capitol Hill in support of North Korea’s freedom and human rights. It was the largest gathering for North Korea that had ever been held outside the Korean peninsula and Members of Congress credited that day with leading to the unanimous passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act.
The following year the event was expanded to a week featuring rallies, Congressional hearings, the North Korea genocide exhibit, film screenings and many different events. It was held in Washington DC up through 2009. During that period it gave defectors the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States, led the U.S. Congress to host hearings featuring eyewitnesses who testified on North Korea’s political prison camps, the trafficking of North Korean women in China, North Korea’s involvement in abducting South Korean and Japanese citizens, South Korean POWs still being held in North Korea, North Korea’s persecution of Christians and its illicit and illegal activities. In 2010 it was moved to Seoul and hosted by North Korean defectors, many of whom had been the visiting delegations to NKFW.
Everyone is invited to participate and here are ways you can help:
1) Host Event if you or your NGO would like to plan an event or co-host an event with other NGOs for the visiting delegation either in Washington DC or New York City, let me know right away as we are mapping out the schedule now for the main events in those two cities. But, there will be a date devoted to North Korean refugees and you may want to plan an event in your hometown or city. We have had over 25 cities plan simultaneous events.
2) NKFW Dinner Committee -- one of the events we need volunteers for is the fund-raising dinner we are planning which will raise funds for the work of the defector NGOs including outreach (radio broadcasting and balloon launches) and rescues. We will confirm the date soon but are zeroing in on Saturday, May 2, in the Northern Virginia area. This event will be a lot of fun and the climax of NKFW 2015. We are recruiting a committee now that can talk via conference call starting this week.
3) New York Visit -- we could use folks to help us with plans for the visit to NYC which is scheduled for Thursday April 30th.
4) Specific Events, Help -- Do you have a talent that could be utilized to help during NKFW? Planning demonstrations, prepping folks for testimony, designing posters -- there are many ways to help. If there is a particular area in which you would like to volunteer your help, please let us know.
One final thought on NKFW: everyone who has participated in North Korea Freedom Week -- whether in Washington, DC or in Seoul -- has always found it to be a most meaningful experience. It is a coming together of many to speak in one voice for the freedom, human rights, and dignity of one of the most suffering people on Earth. We work for the day, which is ever closer, when we can have NKFW in Pyongyang!
And some closing good news: at this very moment we are collecting our special messages of hope from Members of Congress to be broadcast into North Korea on Free North Korea Radio for the upcoming Korean New Year -- thank you to all who are helping with this special outreach and Helen Park for the translations. This has become an annual tradition for defectors to spend the New Year broadcasting these messages into North Korea to show the people our care and concerns is for them.