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[Newsmaker] U.S. Rep. speaks against N.K. repatriations

Republican Rep. Ed Royce, the head of the U.S. congressional panel on foreign affairs, lodged last week a strong protest against China for its recent repatriation of nine North Korean defectors.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to China’s President Xi Jinping expressing his concern over recent reports of the forced repatriation of North Koreans, some as young as 15, who now face extreme punishment in North Korea, his office said Friday.

The North Koreans fled North Korea in 2011 and were caught in Laos before being deported last month to China, which later repatriated them to the North.
Ed Royce
Ed Royce

“The U.S. and China must work together to address the serious challenges that North Korea poses to the world community. I strongly encourage the government of the People’s Republic of China to work closely with the U.S. and others to find an alternative to forced repatriations,” Royce wrote in the letter.

The statement exemplified high international concern over the fate of the nine defectors and repatriations of North Korean defectors. It was considered especially diplomatically bold as U.S. Barack Obama plans to meet Xi in California this week.

Royce, who met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in February this year, has been vocal about staunchly dealing with the reclusive North.

In April, Royce was quoted as saying that the U.S. and international community should cut off money to North Korea so that “the regime collapses” instead of “rewarding them for bad behavior.”

Royce has been actively involved in policies regarding North Korea on such issues as human rights, U.S. currency counterfeiting and nuclear proliferation. He has also held keen interest in stopping the repatriation of refugees.

With the U.N. sending a message of “dismay” to Laos and China for the latest repatriation, politicians across the globe are expected to continue raising voices of condemnation.

In Seoul, the ruling Saenuri Party said it will push again for a bill on North Korea’s human rights during the upcoming parliamentary session this month.

(From news reports)