Activists want China Olympics boycott over Koreans
Guardian UK: WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. human rights activists urged people not to travel to Beijing to see the 2008 Olympics unless China grants the U.N. refugee agency access to North Koreans hiding in its territory.
The religious and civic activists also said international media outlets should limit coverage to sporting events as part of the effort to deny China publicity.
They demanded the United States keep the issue of human rights in North Korea high on the agenda in six-party talks to end the communist North's nuclear weapons program.
"The message is very simple: China, if you want to host the 2008 Olympic Games, stop the persecution of the North Korean refugees," Sam Kim, executive director of the Korean Church Coalition, said at a news conference.
The nationwide grouping of Korean-American churches launched a campaign in April to display "Let My People Go" banners and decals at churches, synagogues and human rights organizations before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The coalition, which will unveil similar drives in Japan and South Korea next month to publicize the plight of North Korean refugees, proposes that athletes compete in the Beijing Olympics, but that spectators shun the games.
Beijing does not recognize North Koreans who fled their country to seek work and food in China as refugees, preventing them from getting help from the U.N. High Commissioner's Office to seek asylum in the United States or other countries.
Some North Koreans have been repatriated to the North against their will to face harsh punishment, while women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery, said the coalition.
Estimates of the number of people who have sought refuge in China since a famine killed 1 million North Koreans in the late 1990s range from 30,000 to 300,000. About 10,000 have settled in South Korea after leaving China via Southeast Asia.
The activists said they want to force Beijing to live up to its obligations as a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees.