RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY 2013 DIOCESAN CONVENTION ON
NORTH KOREAN PRISON LABOR CAMPS
RESOLVED, that the 181st Annual Convention of the Diocese of Vermont prayerfully focus our attention on how our actions affect those in poverty, including the people of North Korea; and be it further
RESOLVED, that this Convention acknowledge the interrelatedness to which we are called in our covenant with God in Christ Jesus, as well as our interrelatedness with others more distant from ourselves for whom we desire justice, as described in the Earth Charter endorsed at our 177th Convention; and be it further
RESOLVED, that members of this Convention keep in prayer the people of North Korea who live in deep and degrading poverty, especially those in prison labor camps where grave human rights violations cause daily suffering and undermine human relationships, an insidious form of poverty and oppression, with serious implications for our larger world society; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Secretary of this Convention communicate our deep concern about these prison camps to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and to Michael Kirby, Chair of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Human Rights in North Korea, by sending them a copy of this resolution, and be it further
RESOLVED, that this convention urge its members to share this resolution and its explanation with their parishes, that they might inform themselves about the situation, incorporate the victims in prayer, and consider further actions as the Spirit moves them.
The extreme depth of dehumanization, cruelty, degradation of family relationships and deprivation in these camps moves me and a fellow parishioner to appeal to our faith community for help. This difficult human rights problem challenges our souls to acknowledge such human cruelty in our age and
to seek signs of hope. While further prayer and study are needed, we can at least express our support for the UN Commission of Inquiry for Human Rights in North Korea as they investigate this evil in our world.
For internet news, see
Amnesty International has extensive information about North Korea’s prison camps. See http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/qa-north-korea-s-human-rights-crisis-2013-04-08
The book, Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Viking, 2012) vividly describes these prison labor camps. From an excerpt from the back cover: “North Korea’s political camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photos, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.”
North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps explains more about the camps and is available on Human Rights North Korea HRNK’s website. For more information see http://www.hrnk.org/events/announcements-view.php?id=10
Proposers: Sylvia Knight, St. Paul’s Cathedral; Bobbi Perez, St Paul’s Cathedral & St. John’s, Essex, NY