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Monday, May 16, 2011

Campaign for Christians in North Korea


As two major new reports highlight North Korean human rights violations, Release International is campaigning for religious freedom in the country often described as the worst persecutor of Christians on Earth.

The Release One Day campaign is calling on Christians to sign a petition pressing for freedom of worship in the land where Bibles are banned. The petition asks North Korea to allow its citizens to practise their faith without threat of persecution.

In a new report the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea says the country may have abducted 180,000 people to force them to work for the regime against their will.

And Amnesty International recently published satellite images of North Korea’s mushrooming political prison camps, documenting torture, starvation and mass execution.

Speaking to Release, one North Korean defector described Yodok prison camp as ‘hell on earth’.

North Korea has got to be one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian,’ says Release CEO Andy Dipper. ‘Bibles are banned and the regime can jail Christians as political prisoners. Those trying to escape can be shot on sight. Those who make it across the border risk being used as slaves.

‘Please stand with persecuted North Koreans and sign the petition calling for freedom. You can download it from the website or sign it on

Several who escaped the hermit kingdom tell their stories in the latest edition of Release magazine [see link below]. ‘Lydia’ was captured in China and sent back to North Korea. She was tortured to discover whether she had made any contact with Christians in China.

‘I became so weak. My body weight was 30kg. I also became mentally ill,’ she told Release International.

A broker helped ‘Kim’ to escape from China when she was just 20 years old. ‘The river at the border was frozen and I walked across to escape. It was only when I got to China that I discovered that these brokers were actually human traffickers.’

Kim managed to evade the traffickers, and eventually made it to South Korea, where she became a Christian. Kim now helps other defectors who are struggling to adapt. Many suffer loneliness, separation and depression. The suicide rate among North Korean refugees is disproportionately high.

Release is supporting those who have fled North Korea. It is working with local Christian partners to provide safe houses, pastoral support and health care.

Through its international network of missions Release serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world, by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice. Release is a member of the UK organisations Global Connections and the Evangelical Alliance.

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