2:34 PM EDT

John Tanner, D-TN 8th

Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 234) calling on the Government of the People's Republic of China to respect the human rights of refugees from North Korea.

The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.

The text of the concurrent resolution is as follows:

H. Con. Res. 234

Whereas the Government of North Korea is a dictatorial regime that commits gross human rights violations against the North Korean people;

Whereas the Government of North Korea attempts to exert absolute control over the lives of North Koreans through the use of deplorable systems of punishment and torture and by restricting the flow of information;

Whereas the Government of North Korea engages in the systematic torture, unlawful detainment, and mass murder of tens of thousands of political prisoners, defectors, and refugees, employing the world's most brutal concentration camp system;

Whereas the lack of freedom, government persecution, and policies of selective starvation have driven hundreds of thousands of North Koreans to northeast China, fleeing for their lives from prison camps or political persecution;

Whereas the Government of the People's Republic of China forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees and imprisons foreign aid workers who try to assist North Korean refugees inside China;

Whereas to encourage these repatriation efforts, Chinese central government authorities assign local public security bureaus in northeastern China a target number of North Koreans that they must detain in order to receive favorable work evaluations;

Whereas the refugees returned to North Korea by the Government of the People's Republic of China face imprisonment, brutal persecution, or execution;

Whereas up to 90 percent of North Korean women refugees fall prey to traffickers in China who sell the refugees into sexual slavery;

Whereas the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, done at Geneva on July 28, 1951 (189 UNTS 150), as modified by the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, done at New York on January 31, 1967 (606 UNTS 267), defines a refugee as a person who, ``owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to

such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country'';

Whereas the Government of the People's Republic of China violates its obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees by impeding access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and continually classifying North Korean refugees as ``economic migrants'', denying them asylum and forcibly returning them to North Korea without the review to which they are entitled;

Whereas the UNHCR fails to robustly press the Government of the People's Republic of China to grant the UNHCR access to North Korean refugees and has failed in initiate a binding arbitration proceeding against the Government of the People's Republic of China pursuant to the terms of Article XIV of the Agreement on Upgrading of the UNHCR Mission in the People's Republic of China to the UNHCR Branch Office in the People's Republic of China, done at Geneva on December 1, 1995, governing refugee

access and the refugee designation process;

Whereas the UNHCR's failure to bring such an arbitration proceeding was determined by the United States Congress in the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-333; 22 U.S.C. 7801 et seq.) to constitute a ``a significant abdication by the UNHCR of one of its core responsibilities'';

Whereas the failure of the People's Republic of China to abide by its treaty obligations toward the United Nations is a critical means by which the Government of North Korea is allowed to subject the people of North Korea to persecution and effectively imprison them within its borders;

Whereas Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea Jay Lefkowitz testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment on March 1, 2007, that ``the fact that the Government of China is not honoring its international commitments, is not providing genuine access as it is required to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, I think is really the single most significant issue we have outside of the North Korean Government's own emigration policies

that is a barrier now to the free movement of people in that region'';

Whereas the International Parliamentarians Coalition for North Korean Refugees' Human Rights, a coalition of parliamentarians from across the globe, met in Seoul, South Korea, on August 29, 2007, and called on the international community to increase its efforts to protect North Korean refugees; and

Whereas the Korean-American community, acting through various religious and civic organizations, including the ``Let My People Go Campaign'', has worked to bring awareness to the plight of the hundreds of thousands North Korean refugees living in China: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) strongly encourages the Government of the People's Republic of China to honor its obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, done at Geneva on July 28, 1951 (189 UNTS 150), as modified by the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, done at New York on January 31, 1967 (606 UNTS 267), by--

(A) halting the forced repatriation of North Koreans who face a well-founded fear of persecution if they are returned to North Korea;

(B) making genuine efforts to identify and protect the refugees among the North Korean migrants encountered by Chinese authorities, including providing refugees with a reasonable opportunity to request asylum; and [Page: H12110]

(C) granting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to such refugees to determine their status and the degree of assistance to which they are entitled; and

(2) recognizes the efforts of the Korean-American community for bringing attention to the plight of North Korean refugees.

2:34 PM EDT

John Tanner, D-TN 8th

Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

2:38 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony that was held for His Holiness the Dalai Lama earlier this month served to remind us all once again that the Chinese leadership has a long way to go before it becomes a responsible stakeholder in the international community.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the callous disregard of Beijing of its international treaty obligations with regard to refugees, both North Korean and Tibetan.

The international press has reported incidents of Chinese border guards shooting and killing both North Korean and Tibetan refugees as they sought to flee China. These reprehensible acts must stop at once.

Earlier this month, Beijing demonstrated once again its continued contempt for the international refugee conventions. Chinese police entered the South Korean international school in Beijing to drag North Korean refugees from their hiding places. North Korean refugees had sought sanctuary there.

In the process, the Chinese police roughed up South Korean diplomats who were sent by their government to assist these refugees.

I call on Beijing to act in accordance with the international refugee conventions that it has signed and to end the disrespect that it has shown toward the diplomats of a major ally of the United States.

This resolution, put forward by my good friend, ED ROYCE of California, is particularly timely and essential with the approach of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Olympic hosts should not include oppressors of refugees.

The forced repatriation of North Korean refugees is both irresponsible and immoral. If ever there was a refugee population who faced the immediate threat of persecution upon return to their homeland, it is the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees now hiding in China.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, must also do a much better job in holding Beijing accountable for its reckless disregard of its obligations. If Beijing does not begin to address this urgent issue in a [Page: H12111]

responsible way, then there should be dire consequences.

Television viewers around the world next summer could possibly see on their screens the scene of a North Korean woman with her baby seeking safe haven in an athletes' dormitory at the Olympic village as Chinese police ruthlessly pursue her.

This resolution, therefore, Mr. Speaker, is of vital importance for the reaffirmation of our commitment to the protection of refugees and, most importantly, for the North Korean refugees themselves.

I rise in strong support of Mr. Royce's resolution, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the author and the sponsor of this resolution, Mr. Royce of California.

2:41 PM EDT

Ed Royce, R-CA 40th

Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I want to take a moment and thank Chairman JOHN TANNER, as well as of course Ranking Member ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN and Chairman Lantos for their support in bringing this bill to the floor of the House of Representatives.

I would also like to thank Congresswoman DIANE WATSON. She is the coauthor of this resolution, and in August Congresswoman Watson and myself traveled to South Korea as Chair and vice-Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange. We also had an opportunity to go to North Korea at that time. In Seoul, South Korea, we held a day-long discussion with our counterparts in the National Assembly there in South Korea and took part in a forum of parliamentarians from

across the globe. We had parliamentarians there from seven different countries to discuss the plight of North Korean refugees, and this resolution is a product of those discussions and what we learned from the defectors that we talked to, and we listened to the defectors during these hearings.

Mr. Speaker, we're all too familiar with the miserable human rights conditions in North Korea, and I would just remind the Members of this body of reports by the State Department and NGOs that paint a very grim picture.

There is a total denial of political, civil, and religious liberties. There is no dissent or criticism allowed of Kim Jong-Il. The media is tightly controlled there by the regime.

Severe, severe physical abuse is inflicted on any citizen who violates these laws and restrictions. NGOs describe a system of concentration camps. They say this is akin to the Soviet gulags, and they house somewhere up to 200,000 inmates.

Food shortages are a regular problem because the regime distributes food based on perceived loyalty and, of course, favors the ruling elite and the military.

This dismal state has led a large number of North Koreans, perhaps as many as 300,000, to cross into China. There they seek food, and they're looking for work, and hopefully from their standpoint, they're looking for resettlement in South Korea. It is thought that nearly 75 percent of these refugees are women, and according to the NGOs that study this problem, 90 percent of those women end up trafficked.

In northeast China, North Korean refugees live in constant fear of being rounded up by Chinese authorities, and this despite the international obligations that China is supposed to keep.

China forcibly repatriates these refugees; and for many of them, it's effectively a death sentence. Some are shot on the spot. Some go to these concentration camps or work camps. Many of them live out their lives in these concentration camps.

[Time: 14:45]

The Government of North Korea deems leaving their country a crime, in some cases a capital offense. If not that, the expense is the gulag.

China's mistreatment of these refugees is not new but has really intensified, according to the State Department, in the last couple of years. During 2006, several thousand North Koreans were forcibly detained and forcibly returned to North Korea, the State Department reports.

As part of its stepped-up campaign of repatriation, Chinese authorities reportedly also have established new detention centers along the border with North Korea to accommodate greater numbers of North Korean prisoners prior to the repatriation. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, on which I serve, recently released its annual report finding that during the past 1 or 2 years the Chinese Government has intensified its efforts to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees, in part as

security preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games.

These refugees deserve better. Certainly, Kim Chun-hee did. Ms. Kim is a North Korean woman in her 30s who sought refuge at a school in Beijing in December of 2005, only to be repatriated, this despite attempts by the United States and others to raise her case to the Chinese Government to convince the Chinese Government not to do this. To this day it is not known whether she was executed or whether she is still alive.

There are thousands of similar stories. Those associated with humanitarian groups who assist North Korean refugees in northeast China are also targeted by Chinese officials, and this includes U.S. citizens. Last month, American businessman Steve Kim was released from a Chinese prison after serving 4 years. His supposed crime was helping North Korean refugees who had escaped their homeland and were hiding in China hoping to make their way to South Korea.

Mr. Kim, who recently spoke on Capitol Hill about his experiences, recounted, ``When I was in prison, I saw North Korean defectors who I shared the prison cell with beaten to a pulp by prison guards.'' Now, this is in China. This is before they are sent back to North Korea. We have documented the kind of treatment they get when they are sent back.

This resolution sends a strong message to Beijing. This practice must stop. Specifically, the resolution calls on China to honor its obligations under the 1951 U.N. convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol, and to honor that by halting the forced repatriation of these refugees, terminating the practice of automatically classifying all North Korean border crossers as illegal economic migrants and granting the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to get

into these areas to see these refugees.

China is signed up to respect refugees. It is past time for them to live up to the protocols they have signed to do this. The human rights situation in North Korea is a nightmare. These human rights abuses are worthy of this House's attention, because North Koreans are suffering. Two million were killed at the hands of this regime over this last decade. They also tell us something about the regime we are expecting to carry out commitments under the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons

program. It tells you something about this regime.

I will quote Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident who once said, ``A country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors.'' Teeing off that quote, Jay Lefkowitz, the State Department's Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year, ``North Korea is a prime example of a regime that doesn't respect either. It wouldn't have surprised Sakharov that a government that inflicts on its citizens repression

reminiscent of the most cruel totalitarian rulers of the 20th century is today counterfeiting U.S. currency, trafficking in narcotics, building a nuclear arsenal, and threatening other nations.''

In testimony last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill reported that he is moving the ball forward with North Korea in respect to disabling their nuclear program. I hope he is right. Part of the February agreement to do so involves a U.S. commitment to move toward full diplomatic relations with North Korea.

The administration insists that it still has a clear eye on the North Korea human rights situation. However, the Congressional Research Service reports that Ambassador Hill increasingly has linked normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations solely to a satisfactory settlement of the nuclear issue. This body must let it be known that relations with North Korea will be far from normal as long as North Korea continues to treat its people as we have heard about today. [Page: H12112]

I urge the passage of this important resolution.

2:41 PM EDT

Ed Royce, R-CA 40th

Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I want to take a moment and thank Chairman JOHN TANNER, as well as of course Ranking Member ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN and Chairman Lantos for their support in bringing this bill to the floor of the House of Representatives.

I would also like to thank Congresswoman DIANE WATSON. She is the coauthor of this resolution, and in August Congresswoman Watson and myself traveled to South Korea as Chair and vice-Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange. We also had an opportunity to go to North Korea at that time. In Seoul, South Korea, we held a day-long discussion with our counterparts in the National Assembly there in South Korea and took part in a forum of parliamentarians from

across the globe. We had parliamentarians there from seven different countries to discuss the plight of North Korean refugees, and this resolution is a product of those discussions and what we learned from the defectors that we talked to, and we listened to the defectors during these hearings.

Mr. Speaker, we're all too familiar with the miserable human rights conditions in North Korea, and I would just remind the Members of this body of reports by the State Department and NGOs that paint a very grim picture.

There is a total denial of political, civil, and religious liberties. There is no dissent or criticism allowed of Kim Jong-Il. The media is tightly controlled there by the regime.

Severe, severe physical abuse is inflicted on any citizen who violates these laws and restrictions. NGOs describe a system of concentration camps. They say this is akin to the Soviet gulags, and they house somewhere up to 200,000 inmates.

Food shortages are a regular problem because the regime distributes food based on perceived loyalty and, of course, favors the ruling elite and the military.

This dismal state has led a large number of North Koreans, perhaps as many as 300,000, to cross into China. There they seek food, and they're looking for work, and hopefully from their standpoint, they're looking for resettlement in South Korea. It is thought that nearly 75 percent of these refugees are women, and according to the NGOs that study this problem, 90 percent of those women end up trafficked.

In northeast China, North Korean refugees live in constant fear of being rounded up by Chinese authorities, and this despite the international obligations that China is supposed to keep.

China forcibly repatriates these refugees; and for many of them, it's effectively a death sentence. Some are shot on the spot. Some go to these concentration camps or work camps. Many of them live out their lives in these concentration camps.

[Time: 14:45]

The Government of North Korea deems leaving their country a crime, in some cases a capital offense. If not that, the expense is the gulag.

China's mistreatment of these refugees is not new but has really intensified, according to the State Department, in the last couple of years. During 2006, several thousand North Koreans were forcibly detained and forcibly returned to North Korea, the State Department reports.

As part of its stepped-up campaign of repatriation, Chinese authorities reportedly also have established new detention centers along the border with North Korea to accommodate greater numbers of North Korean prisoners prior to the repatriation. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, on which I serve, recently released its annual report finding that during the past 1 or 2 years the Chinese Government has intensified its efforts to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees, in part as

security preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games.

These refugees deserve better. Certainly, Kim Chun-hee did. Ms. Kim is a North Korean woman in her 30s who sought refuge at a school in Beijing in December of 2005, only to be repatriated, this despite attempts by the United States and others to raise her case to the Chinese Government to convince the Chinese Government not to do this. To this day it is not known whether she was executed or whether she is still alive.

There are thousands of similar stories. Those associated with humanitarian groups who assist North Korean refugees in northeast China are also targeted by Chinese officials, and this includes U.S. citizens. Last month, American businessman Steve Kim was released from a Chinese prison after serving 4 years. His supposed crime was helping North Korean refugees who had escaped their homeland and were hiding in China hoping to make their way to South Korea.

Mr. Kim, who recently spoke on Capitol Hill about his experiences, recounted, ``When I was in prison, I saw North Korean defectors who I shared the prison cell with beaten to a pulp by prison guards.'' Now, this is in China. This is before they are sent back to North Korea. We have documented the kind of treatment they get when they are sent back.

This resolution sends a strong message to Beijing. This practice must stop. Specifically, the resolution calls on China to honor its obligations under the 1951 U.N. convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol, and to honor that by halting the forced repatriation of these refugees, terminating the practice of automatically classifying all North Korean border crossers as illegal economic migrants and granting the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to get

into these areas to see these refugees.

China is signed up to respect refugees. It is past time for them to live up to the protocols they have signed to do this. The human rights situation in North Korea is a nightmare. These human rights abuses are worthy of this House's attention, because North Koreans are suffering. Two million were killed at the hands of this regime over this last decade. They also tell us something about the regime we are expecting to carry out commitments under the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons

program. It tells you something about this regime.

I will quote Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident who once said, ``A country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors.'' Teeing off that quote, Jay Lefkowitz, the State Department's Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year, ``North Korea is a prime example of a regime that doesn't respect either. It wouldn't have surprised Sakharov that a government that inflicts on its citizens repression

reminiscent of the most cruel totalitarian rulers of the 20th century is today counterfeiting U.S. currency, trafficking in narcotics, building a nuclear arsenal, and threatening other nations.''

In testimony last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill reported that he is moving the ball forward with North Korea in respect to disabling their nuclear program. I hope he is right. Part of the February agreement to do so involves a U.S. commitment to move toward full diplomatic relations with North Korea.

The administration insists that it still has a clear eye on the North Korea human rights situation. However, the Congressional Research Service reports that Ambassador Hill increasingly has linked normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations solely to a satisfactory settlement of the nuclear issue. This body must let it be known that relations with North Korea will be far from normal as long as North Korea continues to treat its people as we have heard about today. [Page: H12112]

I urge the passage of this important resolution.

2:50 PM EDT

John Barrow, D-GA 12th

Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Tennessee for his remarks in support of the bill, and I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hinojosa).

2:50 PM EDT

Jim Moran Jr., D-VA 8th

Mr. MORAN of Virginia. I thank Mr. Royce for bringing up this issue.

Mr. Speaker, it's terribly important, it's all about man's inhumanity to mankind. Here China envisions itself becoming a superpower in the 21st century, hosting the world's Olympics.

We, in the United States, are buying tens of billions of dollars of goods from China. China has the opportunity to take its place among the nations of the world that matter, that do the right thing, that lead us into the future. What a terrific opportunity for China to show that it has a moral fiber, that it knows right from wrong, that it is not an amoral totalitarian state.

It knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the horrific conditions within which the North Korean people exist today, barely surviving. Yet, out of total desperation, when they are able to escape North Korea, do the Chinese help? No. They make it worse. It's as though they have escaped from some purgatory into hell where they get beaten up by the Chinese and then sent back to North Korea, probably to be executed.

This is a situation that just cries out for people around the world to speak up. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Royce has given us that opportunity in the House of Representatives today.