By Hanna Noh, Intern, CIVICUS Geneva Office
“Hungry crowd is angry crowd”, said the delegation of China emphasising the nation’s understanding on human rights during the working group report on People’s Republic of China on 22nd October, as part of the 17th Universal Periodic Review session held from 21st October to 1st November 2013 in Geneva. I watched both with expectations and questions on how much China has been committed to improving human rights. The meeting highlighted many important questions submitted in advance; limited freedom of expression on the Internet, promoting ethnic minorities especially in Tibet and Xinjang, abolition of death the penalty and ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Nevertheless, China’s irresponsible practice on refugees, especially those who fled from DPRK was not appropriately addressed. It was not only omitted from China’s national report, but also failed to receive substantial attention during the interactive dialogue. In May 2013, nine young North Korean defectors who are believed to be orphans were returned to their country, believably by the Chinese authority. The 9 starved children fled from North Korea and entered Laos through China under the protection of South Korean missionary. However, before they succeeded in getting in contact with the South Korean embassy for refugee protection, the group was detained by the Laos authority and sent back to China. Until they landed at Beijing airport, the group believed that they were going to South Korea. In Beijing, the unfortunate 9 children were boarded to North Korea. However, Beijing denies that the Chinese authorities are responsible for such practice. Now the returned defectors are being used for propaganda purposees, appearing on national broadcast saying that they “were able to be back to their homeland thanks to the ‘generous leader’”. But no one knows what fate awaits them when the media spotlight is gone. Continue reading