Help Others, Go to Prison

From China Aid,

Christians Li Mingshun and Zhang Yonghu were indicted by the Erlianhaote City People’s Procuratorate on July 31, 2009, for aiding North Korean refugees fleeing to South Korea through China. Li and Zhang were among several Christians helping to provide food, shelter, and transportation for the 61 refugees crossing Northern Chinese provinces into Mongolia, where neutral state laws permit residents to seek asylum in South Korea.

Alerted as the refugees crossed into Mongolia, the Border Brigade of Erlianhaote city traveled to Qindao, Heilongjiang province, and arrested Li Mingshun on April 29, 2009 [View Notice of Arrest]. The trial was held August 17, 2009 in the Erlianhaote City People’s Court. Human rights lawyers defending Li and Zhang hoped to raise awareness concerning the Chinese government’s treatment of North Korean refugees through this case. View earlier press release on Li and Zhang, 7/5/2009.

On August 30, 2009, Ms. Li was found guilty for her humanitarian activities by the Erlianhaote Procuratorate, (officially charged with “human smuggling across the border). She was sentenced to ten years in prison. Ms. Li’s family in Qindao City received the verdict the morning of August 30. Mr. Zhang received a seven-year sentence for organizing transportation for the refugees to Inner Mongolia. Li’s family reports they will be submitting an appeal for Li and Zhang’s lawful release. (Visit to view Official Sentencing Document for Li and Zhang with Press Release).

The verdict underscores years of continued persecution for North Koreans in China, who have been denied refugee-status by the Chinese government and repatriated in violation of the UNHCR Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which China signed in 1982.

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