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EDITORIAL
Still Forgotten
Choi Yong-hun
Nate MacDonald
12-Feb-2006
"This individual stands out as a reminder of the struggle to combat injustice and the promotion of freedoms in nations that persecute. The challenge is to maintain an awareness of the individuals suffering for their faith and Christian principles. Christian Monitor has remained a voice for the persecuted and will continue to do so until the Lord returns." - Jim Dykstra Managing Editor of ChristianMonitor.org

Choi Yong-hun was sentenced in Yantai City, Shandong Province, China on May 22, 2003 to 5 years in prison for assisting in the escape of North Korean refugees from China to South Korea. Today his wife and children are pleading for the world to stand up and take notice of the injustice and fictitious charges. His accomplice Seok Jae-hyun has received more attention because of his affiliations with the New York Times. He was only there to document the dramatic escape. The absurd charge for these men was one of trafficking in human beings (assisting North Koreans to cross the border). The nation of China needs to know that the world will not be silent when an injustice has been committed and the human rights of individuals are violated.

Mr. Choi is 40 years old and is a native Korean. He was employed as a heavy equipment salesman with a territory of Northern China. In 1998 Choi Yong-hun became compassionate for the fate of North Koreans who had crossed the border into China. Subjected to abuses and hunted down by Chinese authorities, these refugees have no one to turn to. Mr. Choi began to help as many as he could. He found jobs for them in factories and safe places of shelter. He then began to work secretively in obtaining safe exodus into other countries with the eventual destination of South Korea. At approximately 7 AM on January 18th 2003, the Chinese Police (PSB) arrested Choi Yong-hun, Seok Jae-hyun and 15 refugees. The refugees were sent home to a fate that we could only imagine in our worst nightmares. The two men were put into detention along with one other Chinese co-worker.

On April 22, 2003 they received their first hearing in the Yantai China People's Court. There were no journalists or NGO representatives present. Mr. Choi was denied the basic rights of a fair trial. Mr. Choi and his family did not appoint the defense lawyer. His defense lawyer did not consult Mr. Choi about the plea to enter. The defense lawyer would not meet with Mr. Choi's wife. He did not speak Korean and a competent interpreter was not provided. As observed the defense seemed to support the prosecution. The interpreter in the courtroom was not fluent in Korean and mis-translated many statements. Seok Jae-hyun's lawyer tried to point out the mistakes in translation. Additionally, the interpreter worked for the prosecution and defense at the same time. Based on those statements this trial violates the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which China became a party to in 1998. Who will call them into accountability?

Choi Yong-hun spoke the following eloquent words, "All humans in the world are born to be loved. North Korean refugees cross the border to China to escape from hunger. There they become targets for human trafficking, or they are forced to steal simply to survive in China. Meanwhile Chinese authorities hunt them down, I decided to assist these people, hoping to be of some help." Suffering from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure Mr. Choi has been denied his medications. Reports are that his health is declining. It is time for journalists, NGO's and human rights advocates to rise to the call of justice and keep Choi Yong-hun in the public spotlight and keep the pressure on China as we appeal this unjust and hasty verdict. I will not forget Choi Yong-hun. Will you?

This informative release is based on first hand information provided by the family of Choi Yong-hun.
Jim Dykstra

The family of Choi Yong-Hun struggles in their day to day existence. Remember them in your prayers.

Mr. Choi suffers from diabetes and other health conditions that require medications frequently denied him. Pray for a touch from the Lord in his body.

Legally Mr. Choi has been detained unlawfully. The United Nations investigated his case and reported that China violated several international norms in his arrest, trial and imprisonment. Pray that justice would be served.

With two more years of a five year sentence to serve Mr. Choi deserves our prayers that Jesus would provide for his needs and keep him safe from harm. The lonliness associated with detention can only be filled by the Holy Spirit. Pray to that end.
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Nate MacDonald
"Do all things for Christ."
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