Friday, July 4, 2008

Seoul Mock Funeral Updates

Mock Funeral Updates

Press Advisory
July 4, 2008
Contact: SEOUL - 010.8388.7769

SEOUL - Reports from some local media have erroneously reported details about our organization, LiNK - Liberty in North Korea, and some of the aim's of its participation in Saturday's scheduled mock funeral. LiNK, an international NGO devoted to work on raising awareness about North Korean human rights issues, engaging in advocacy to help alleviate the sufferings of the North Korean people, and protection work throughout Asia sheltering North Korean refugees, will be holding a small mock funeral in the Shichung/Cheongyechon area of Seoul this Saturday at 6 pm. The demonstration is for one simple reason - to ask the South Korean people to help raise awareness for the sufferings of the North Korean people - victims of tremendous human rights violations, and, in coming months, victims of starvation on a wide scale. NGO reports have estimated several hundred thousand may starve to death in the coming

Our organization, and this Saturday's event accordingly, is strictly non-violent. We also do not take a stance on the issue of US beef in South Korea. We are simply asking citizens to remember that while they can raise their voices in their own defense - and many citizens have legitimate concerns about broader issues not necessarily related to beef - the North Korean people have no champions. We believe that the voices of South Korea's people can make all the difference.

For more information about LiNK, please visit LiNK is a non-profit, nonreligious,
non-partisan, non-ethnic organization.

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Statement of Purpose

Korean history has been punctuated by heroic moments of grassroots mobilization for civil liberties, for freedom, and for independence. From pre-modern defenders of Korea's independence to the March 1st uprising, Korea's people have always carried deep in their hearts the welfare of their nation and it's citizens. Today, we see once again the abilities of the Korean people to mobilize and speak out on issues that for many are genuine concerns.

Our group is comprised of individuals from all over the world. We are of mixed ages, ethnicities, professions, nationalities and backgrounds, both Koreans and foreigners. We take no stance on the issues being debated here today, nor on the controversy over American beef. We understand the concerns that many individuals have. We are not here as foreigners, or here to protest against you. We are here as fellow citizens of the world to share with you about something we believe in very strongly, strongly enough that many of us have traveled from other nations to be here with you today.

The North Korean people have seen suffering and hardship on a scale that beggars belief. For years we have worked to raise awareness of their plight and encourage involvement in finding solutions for their struggles, and we are here today to do the same. In the 1990s, over 1 million North Koreans died of starvation. Thousands upon thousands of North Koreans today are without access to rations - NGOs estimate several hundred thousand will die of starvation this year, unless circumstances change. Every freedom we enjoy today - the freedoms to assembly and speech, which allow citizens to peaceably gather to express their views; freedoms of religion, which allow us to practice a faith of our choice, or no faith at all; and many others - simply do not exist in North Korea. Citizens in the North are permitted only to listen to radio broadcasts from the government - any caught listening to foreign broadcasts will be arrested and punished. Individuals have been known to be imprisoned for complaining about a day's rations (or lack thereof), folding a newspaper so that the crease fell upon an image of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il's face, or even singing a South Korean pop song.

Today, at least 250,000 North Koreans suffer in a network of concentration camps. Inmates face treatment and conditions rivaling those perpetuated by the 20th century's most brutal regimes. North Korea follows a policy of punishing family members of the accused - up to three generations. Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled to China and other neighboring countries, in search of food or freedom, and remain in hiding. Among them, up to 70% or more of the females are estimated to face sexual trafficking and exploitation. Some women have told of being sold for as little as several hundred dollars. Children born to these refugees on Chinese soil - even those born to Chinese fathers, gain no birthright. For life, they can not attend school, get medical care, or find legal work.

We have been inspired by the citizens of Korea and how they have turned out, in force, for a cause important to them. We believe in the potential of every individual gathered here to help bring about change in North Korea, to help better their lives, and to embrace those who for so long have gone without protectors. Their plight has gone largely unnoticed for over a decade. To say nothing will only prolong their suffering.

We believe we can together lend our passion and voices on behalf of those who have no voice. We have faith in the people of Korea. Please join us.

- LiNK

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