- Title: USA: WASHINGTON DEMONSTRATORS CALL ATTENTION TO PLIGHT OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS.
- Date: 29th April 2004
- Summary: CU/PAN: CHAINED WRISTS MV/TILT UP: VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS HOLDING SIGNS WITH U.S. CAPITOL IN BACKGROUND
- Embargoed: 14th May 2004 13:00
- Location: WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: General,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA8Q3B0WHE4M6E4OBV869HCWBPE
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Demonstrators chained their wrists together and marched to the U.S. Capitol to call attention to the plight of North Korean defectors.
Just under a hundred demonstrators gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday (April 28) to call for improved human rights conditions in North Korea.
Demonstrators held signs featuring images of emaciated male and female victims of starvation and chanted "stop starving the people."
"We are trying to raise awareness right now for all those people in America who have no idea what is going on North Korea. There are so many millions of people starving," Jin Joo, a student from Boston College said.
College students, rights activists and members of Korean religious groups made up the bulk of the protesters which Suh-Kyung Koon, a college student from New York, echoed Joon's sentiments but also called for greater international assistance for North Korean defectors.
"It is absolutely horrible that North Korean defectors get absolutely no help, they actually get sent back after they cross the border into China."
Event organizers critical of human rights conditions under North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made a pointed statement by starting their protest in front of the Holocaust Museum.
Kim's isolationist policies have been a consistent source of of outrage for relief organizations and international human rights groups. The Korean leader's reluctance to accept certain types of aid in the wake of last week's train in northern Korea has only fueled activists' anger.
The blast in the town of Ryongchon, near the Chinese border, killed at least 161 people and injured 1,300, according to international relief agencies. Many of the victims were children.
Officials at the World Food Programme (WFP) officials said the recent events have only made a bad situation worse. According to WFP, more than a quarter of the 23 million people of North Korea remained dependent on food aid years after the isolated communist state was hit by famine.
In a statement released on Wednesday (April 28), The North Korean Freedom Coalition criticized Kim for being "more concerned about protecting his power than protecting his people."
The group met with congressional leaders during the day on Wednesday (April 28) and were expected to end the day with a prayer vigil.
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