The Committee for Release of Shin Sook Ja Kicked Off
'The Committee for the Release of the Daughters of Tongyeong' was officially launched on July 20th in a press conference.
The ‘Committee for the Release of the Daughters of Tongyeong’ was officially launched on July 20th to promote repatriation of Shin Sook Ja and her daughters Oh Hae Won and Oh Kyu Won. In a press conference at Seoul Press Centre this afternoon, the committee released a register of the organization’s members and announced future plans to conduct a hearing and to hold cultural events to promote Shin’s case.
The committee is composed of 16 joint representatives, including the president of the Beautiful Foundation, Park Sang Jeung, standing representative of the North Korea Democratization Forum, Lee Dong Bok, president of the Network for North Korean Democracy, Han Ki Hong, chairman of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea, Hong Soon Kyeong, as well as Choi Seong Yong, the representative of Abductee’s Family Union. Additionally, Shin’s husband, Oh Kil Nam, was inaugurated as a standing representative.
At the press conference, Oh welcomed the support, saying, “People have perceived the campaign to rescue my family as a movement to salvage precious lives and promote human rights condition in North Korea.” He added, “I offer my sincere gratitude to all those who have shown interest in our cause.”
In May, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that Shin Sook Ja, Oh Hae Won and Oh Gyu Won have been arbitrarily detained in North Korea since 1987 and urged for the family’s immediate release. During the press conference, the committee described the purpose of founding their organization, explaining that following WGAD’s ruling, they felt formal action was required, “we therefore established an official organization to execute the UN’s decision.”
In this effort, the committee seeks to establish a general international consensus on Shin’s case outside South Korea. The group is scheduled to meet UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in October, and intends to request the implementation of UN’s follow-up measures to see WGAD’s ruling through, while concurrently deploying a special envoy to promote Shin’s case and obtain a resolution. The committee has further plans to submit a written request to the permanent DPRK representative in New York and Berlin demanding the release of the women and to conduct demonstrations on their behalf.
Further, the committee proposed holding a hearing in South Korea’s National Assembly. By requesting a hearing to Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee under the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, committee members hope to organize a hearing with the help of individual National Assembly representatives interested in North Korea human rights affairs. Additionally at the press conference, the committee revealed a letter addressed to President Lee Myung Bak, which stated, “We were deeply touched when you addressed the Daughters of Tongyeong case to Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden,” and urged the President in “continuous efforts [for the release of Shin’s family].”
Following the press conference, the committee submitted a request to the Ministry of Unification, pressing it to look into the fate and whereabouts of Oh Kil Nam’s family.
As honorary committee members, there are 12 representatives of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR) and three international human rights activists from the U.S.: Ann Buwalda (President of Jubilee Campaign), Jack Rendler (North Korea Country Specialist of Amnesty International), Greg Scarlatoiu (Executive Director of Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
Meanwhile, presidents of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Youth and Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea were appointed co-chairmen of the committee, while eight ICNK member organizations in South Korea joined the group as committee members.
Following the press conference, the committee conducted a march to the Ministry of Unification to submit a written request.
The committee is conducting a march to the Unification Ministry
After the request has been submitted, committee members are shouting "Release the Daughters of Tongyeong"