MPs urged to act to stop China sending escapees back to North Korea

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North Korean escapees have appealed to MPs to speak out against China sending back hundreds of refugees to North Korea where they face prison, torture or death. 

It is believed that 600 North Koreans have been sent back by China to North Korea in the last few weeks. 

Timothy Cho, co-secretariat of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, has written to MPs urging them to raise the issue in Parliament as a matter of urgency. 

"I urge you to encourage the British Government to initiate a dialogue with Chinese authorities to facilitate the deportation of the remaining North Korean refugees to third countries, rather than sending them back to North Korea," he said. 

He fears for the Christians being returned and any others who originally escaped North Korea for religious reasons. 

"The punishment for anyone that has been associated with Christian churches or missionaries while they were in China are likely to be dealt with particularly severely, indeed many are likely to be executed," he said.

"North Korea is ranked as the most dangerous place in the world by Open Doors' World Watch List ranking, and that's with very good reason."

Cho himself is an escapee from North Korea who now works for Open Doors in the UK. He escaped North Korea the first time in his teens before being forcibly repatriated and experiencing imprisonment and interrogation.

He was able to escape a second time to China and was supposed to be repatriated but after missionaries pleaded on his behalf, he was deported to the Philippines. 

Cho said that if escapees could instead be sent to a third country like the Philippines, this will allow them to reach South Korea safely. 

He is hoping that a Backbench Business Debate can be heard on the matter in the House of Commons.

"I was so lucky. If I had been returned to North Korea again, I would not be alive today. That's a fate I want to spare my brothers and sisters, currently in prison in China," he said.