Hundreds of North Korean defectors will be repatriated after being arrested in various parts of China, rights activists say.
Kim Hoe-tae of Solidarity for North Korean Human Rights told the Chosun Ilbo, "Some 220 defectors have been interrogated by regional security departments in China and are being held at about 10 detention centers near the North Korea-China border. They'll be sent back to the North one by one."
Former unification deputy minister Kim Suk-woo also told the Chosun Ilbo that "China has repatriated about 5,000 defectors to the North every year under an agreement on the extradition of fugitives and criminals it concluded with the North in the 1960s."
According to DailyNK, China views defectors as illegal border-crossers motivated by economic gain and not refugees. This is why China claims that it is not bound by its obligations under international conventions on refugees and against torture and can repatriate them.
There is also a growing number of pleas from China's own internet sphere to consider the plight of the refugees from a humanitarian point of view, reported DailyNK. On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, photos and commentaries regarding protests against repatriations held outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul, and other related news, are being steadily uploaded, commented upon and re-tweeted, according to the DailyNK.