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Foreign refugees put pressure on China

Embassy protest opposes forced repatriation of North Koreans

Foreign refugees put pressure on China
Demonstrators outside the China embassy
Stephen Hong, Seoul

February 28, 2012

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Foreign refugees living in South Korea have joined growing calls urging the Chinese government not to forcibly repatriate North Korean defectors detained in China. Around 40 refugees from countries including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and Myanmar, staged a protest on Sunday outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul. According to reports, at least 30 North Koreans face repatriation and an uncertain future after being arrested by Chinese authorities recently. China said they are illegal economic migrants and are obliged to return them to North Korea. “We have escaped to South Korea from many countries around the world,” the protesters said, adding that they went to the embassy to let China know how refugees feel, since they are refugees themselves. “The North Korean refugees are facing a very dangerous situation, more severe than any one of us are,” they said in a statement. They said a country is obliged to protect a refugee and that forced repatriation is an infringement of human rights.  In this case the forced repatriation of refugees to North Korea would be a death sentence, they added. The protesters then urged the Chinese government to observe the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees that China signed in 1982. Related reports: President presses China over refugees Amnesty appeals to China on refugees

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