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ERLC Supports Freedom of Religion in DPRK

From the ERLC’s advocacy at the United Nations in Geneva | 2019 Universal Periodic Review

June 10, 2019

Executive Summary

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting human flourishing and justice around the world with a focus on freedom of religion. The ERLC is the public policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the United States’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.2 million members and over 46,000 churches. The ERLC holds ECOSOC Special Consultative status before the United Nations.

ERLC calls on the international community to make FORB related recommendations to DPRK during the 33rd session of the 2019 Universal Periodic Review. It is undeniable that the right to freedom of religion is not respected in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Pyongyang regime persecutes Christians in a particularly brutal fashion. Prayer, worship, congregating, and possessing sacred texts are severely penalized by torture and imprisonment. One news agency estimates there are 200,000 to 500,000 Christians in the country, 1 of which 50,000 to 70,000 are imprisoned in labor or concentration camps.2 North Korean defectors testify to the appalling, violent torture of Christians. Torture is routine in North Korea, as is death at the hands of the regime. Database Center for North Korean Human Rights estimates that more than 75% of Christians die in these camps.

The international community must prioritize the opposition of the egregious religious freedom violations carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea government. Religious freedom is a right that goes to the very center of what is means to be human. While other rights like freedom of expression and assembly protect religious freedom, the oppression of this fundamental right denies the humanity of the people of North Korea. Various human rights groups, journalists, and North Korean defectors witnessed the heinous human rights violations of religious people across the DPRK. The international community must not allow the denial of such a fundamental right to continue.