China Aid Association
(INNER MONGOLIA – July 5, 2009) Chinese human rights attorneys will represent Christian Li Mingshun, who is in prison in Inner Mongolia, charged with helping smuggle 61 North Koreans across China’s border in early 2009. The attorneys believe this is a significant case to defend the rights of North Korean refugees in China.
Li Mingshun is Chinese Korean from Heilongjiang province. She became Christian in 1985, and in early 2008, she co-founded an underground seminary with a Korean pastor, training house church leaders and North Korean Christians. On April 11, 2009 Li Mingshun was escorted from her Qingdao home by case handlers from the Border Brigade of Erlianhaote city of Inner Mongolia, who requested her assistance in their investigation. The case handlers later demanded 100,000 yuan fine for her release, which Li Mingshun’s family members were unable to pay.
Li Mingshun’s son, Piao Longguang, age 23, has visited his mother three times since her imprisonment. Police have threatened to arrest Li Mingshun’s daughter, Piao Zhengying, age 26, for her involvement, and have also tried to convince Li Mingshun’s family to pay a bribe. Li Mingshun’s family is very concerned about her imprisonment because she suffers from severe hypertension, heart disease and varicose veins, and needs regular medication for these conditions.
Three other Christians have also been detained for helping to smuggle North Korean refugees: Zhang Yonghu, Sun Jing and Sun Hanxiao. Wang Jing and Sun Hanxiao were eventually released because they are under 17 years old, and knew little of the operation. Zhang Yonghu remains in prison.
Chinese human rights attorneys believe this case is important because it could draw more attention to the situation of North Korean refugees and challenge the Chinese government’s treatment of them. The Chinese government supports the North Korean government, and considers all North Korean refugees illegal immigrants. North Koreans caught in China are arrested, detained and forcibly deported back to North Korea where they face harsh punishment, labor camp or death.
Many Chinese house church Christians are actively involved in reaching out to the refugees, providing food, shelter and underground Bible training. Chinese Christians have also been involved in helping North Koreans to escape to Mongolia, because the Mongolian government permits them to go to South Korea where they are granted asylum. ChinaAid contacts say that some North Koreans have also returned secretly to North Korea to preach and plant churches.
ChinaAid calls on the international community to contact the Chinese Ambassador and urge that Li Mingshun and Zhang Yonghu be released and the government respect and uphold human rights for North Korean refugees. Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 495-2000
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Read Li Mingshun’s Arrest Notification from Erlianhaote Municipal Public Security Bureau.