Masumoto joins protest rally at Chinese Embassy in Washington

Masumoto joins protest rally at Chinese Embassy in Washington

WASHINGTON, April 28 Kyodo

A representative of the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea joined about 80 other people who gathered Thursday before the Chinese Embassy in Washington to protest China’s human rights abuses, including its forced return of North Korean refugees.

”We are angered by the continued human rights abuses conducted by the Chinese government on the Sino-(North) Korea border,” said Teruaki Masumoto, secretary general of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea.

Hosted by the International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of the North Korean Refugees, the protest included supporters from numerous nongovernmental organizations, human rights groups, and family members of Japanese and South Koreans abducted by North Korea. It was held as part of various ”North Korean Freedom Week 2005” events.

Masumoto, whose sister Rumiko is one of the Japanese abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said, ”I imagine my own sister who is still in North Korea trying to escape and being kicked back by the Chinese. I just cannot tolerate this inhumane reality that you are now causing toward refugees.”

Masumoto called for an end to all financial assistance to China, while other participants held banners calling for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic summer games in Beijing.

Arriving Monday in Washington, Masumoto met with U.S. lawmakers and senior government officials on Tuesday and Wednesday to seek further U.S. cooperation to resolve the abduction issue.

At the protest rally, many supporters and organizers said they believe China is the key to correcting human rights abuses in North Korea.

”China is the key to dealing with all the dangers and human rights abuses that North Korea poses to the world,” said Deborah Fikes of the Ministerial Alliance of Midland, Texas to supporters.

China is believed to be the only one among the parties to the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions with sufficient influence on North Korea, given their long economic and political ties.

The six-party talks — also involving Japan, South and North Korea, Russia and the United States — have been stalled since the third round last June.

North Korea declared in February it possesses nuclear weapons and is pulling out of the six-party talks indefinitely due to what it calls ”hostile” U.S. policy.

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