08/10/2019 China (International Christian Concern) – Radio Free Asia reports that China has detained about 60 North Korean defectors and begun repatriating them back to North Korea where they could face punishment, including execution and torture.
According to a South Korean missionary who spoke on condition of anonymity, these defectors have been held in detention facilities in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning bordering North Korea.
“I believe the repatriation of North Korean defectors held in detention facilities in Liaoning province has begun recently,” the missionary told RFA, adding that the 60 North Koreans were arrested in various parts of China and imprisoned in Liaoning as of last month.
Activists, human rights groups, along with this missionary, who has been helping defectors for the last two decades, believe defector arrests have spiked this year following appeals by the Kim Jong Un regime to Beijing to thwart those fleeing North Korea, especially military personnel or dignitaries.
The increased number of arrests this year could have stemmed from growing Sino-North Korea cooperation following five summits between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping in recent months, after years of indirect communication.
North Korean defectors leave their country for a variety of reasons— some suffered from hunger, some sought freedom to practice their religion or to live freely, and some simply want to have a better life. Once repatriated, their lives will be at stake.