April 6th, 2009 13:38 EST
N. Korea: Nightmare -- While World Leaders Discuss Rocket Launch
While world leaders respond to North Korea`s controversial long-range rocket launch on Sunday, the people of North Korea seem to have been forgotten.
According to a recent field report from Open Doors, an international Christian ministry, a warlike buildup by the government is a nightmare for most North Korean citizens. Officials have ordered citizens to gather 15 days worth of war provisions. Even young students are being forced to transport ammunition boxes.
The crisis in the world`s economy has reached North Korea. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. A small number of the governing class is purchasing foreign goods from China. Their houses are full of rare, expensive goods from overseas, according to the report.
Meanwhile, more people are dying from starvation. According to the World Food Program, North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world with about 9 million needing urgent food assistance. However, last month the North Korean government refused to accept future U.S. food and expelled five aid groups.
Vita Muntarbhorn, a U.N. human rights investigator, told the U.N. Human Rights Council last month that life inside North Korea is "dire and desperate" and prisons are like "death traps," according to the Associated Press.
North Korean authorities have stepped up their measures for exposing all underground church members by increasing surveillance of Christians, according to Open Doors.
Last month North Korea was re-designated by the U.S. State Department as one of eight "Countries of Particular Concern" for their severe religious freedom violations. Open Doors` World Watch List has ranked North Korea as the No. 1 persecutor of Christians for seven years in a row.
"What is forgotten in all the controversy surrounding the rocket launch is the treatment of the suffering people inside North Korea and the horrendous human rights record of Kim Jong-Il," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "The litany of abuses in well-documented - forced labor, political prisoners tortured in prison camps, sexual trafficking, thousands starving to death. And the abuses are increasing while the government sets its sights on developing a nuclear program.
"I urge you to get involved in North Korea Freedom Week April 26-May 2. Be a voice for the voiceless. Through contacting your members of Congress, attending the protest and rally in Washington, D.C., and the power of prayer, you can make an impact."
North Korea Freedom Week is devoted to raising awareness of the plight of North Koreans and the massive human rights and religious rights abuses by the government. It is sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), which consists of approximately 60 organizations including Open Doors USA. Included in the events, focused in Washington, D.C., is a Capitol Hill Rally for North Korea Freedom and Human Rights at noon on Tuesday, April 28, and lobbying of members of Congress after the rally. At noon, Saturday, May 2, there will be a protest at the Chinese Embassy against China`s violent treatment of North Korean refugees. For the complete schedule, go to www.nkfreedom.org . Open Doors USA will have updated information on its Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org later this week.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world`s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).