The U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights on Monday expressed concerns that China may further forcibly send back North Korean defectors to their repressive home country amid a news report over Beijing's latest large-scale repatriation of such people.
Ambassador Julie Turner made the remark during a forum attended by rights activists and North Korean defectors in Seoul, saying that the U.S. will continue to urge China to abide by their commitments under international conventions.
"So, I have not personally spoken to the PRC about this issue, but the U.S. government does regularly raise forced repatriations with the PRC government, including as recently as last week," she told reporters after the forum, referring to China's official name, the People's Republic of China.
According to local human rights groups, China forcibly repatriated around 600 North Korean defectors detained in the Jilin and Liaoning provinces to the North last Monday via border cities shortly after the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
"So I again hope that the PRC will not and we will continue to remind them of their international obligations, but I can't say that I believe that they will not," she added, stressing that the defectors will likely be tortured upon return to North Korea.
She also expressed appreciation for the North Korean refugees who are willing to speak about their experiences, saying they serve as a "powerful tool" in calling attention to the issue.
"You all, as change makers and young leaders, have an opportunity to raise alarm bells and can be helpful in passing information back to governments that we can act upon," she said.
Turner was officially sworn in Friday, ending more than six years of vacancy in the post.
Source: Yonhap News Agency