International Institute for Religious Freedom

Bonn – Cape Town – Colombo


Global Alliance Urges Action on North Korea Following UN Report

Religious Liberty Partnership Releases Statement on North Korea, Calls for Intervention to End Human Rights Abuses

By: Bonner Querschnitte 14/2014 Ausgabe 300

(Bonn / Cape Town / Colombo, 16.05.2014) Religious liberty organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) released a statement on the crisis in North Korea calling for release of all detainees, an independent tribunal, and sanctions against the responsible officials.

Called the Ottawa Statement on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), it expresses concern about individuals imprisoned in the labour camp system, victims of religious persecution, female victims of abuse, and North Korean refugees in China. It calls for “a response of strong international organization and governmental action in light of this comprehensive report.”

Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF), a member of the RLP, said, “It is extremely important that the well-documented report and recommendations from the UN Commission of Inquiry does not now lay on a shelf somewhere in the United Nations gathering dust. The unspeakable human rights atrocities highlighted in this report have been going on for far too long, and the international community must now act in order to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary North Korean citizens. The time for action is now!”

According to the statement, drafted during the annual gathering of member organizations held in Ottawa, Canada last month, the Religious Liberty Partnership commits to “heightening in-depth research on human rights and religious freedom violations in North Korea through documenting accounts of refugee survivors” and to “disseminate widely information on the reality of life within North Korea.” The full Ottawa Statement is available at the RLP website:

“The report from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry calls us to respond with something more than outrage” said Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer, Co-Director of the IIRF. “It identifies work for each of us to do, at every level—not only governments but also churches and individual citizens. Reading the report and asking, ‘How can I respond?’ is the vital first step, and one which the members of the Religious Liberty Partnership have committed to facilitate for our constituents as well as the general public.”

Roshini Wikremesinhe, the Director of the IIRF Office Colombo (Sri Lanka) added: “North Korea has remained at the top of global human rights violators lists compiled annually by several organizations for many years. The time for the world to act was yesterday. The RLP’s statement, committing to ‘back strong rhetoric with action’ is a step in the right direction.”

The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) is a collaborative effort of Christian organizations from over 20 countries focused on religious liberty. The RLP seeks to more intentionally work together in addressing advocacy, assistance, and in raising the awareness of religious liberty issues globally. Besides RLP Chairman, Mervyn Thomas, the RLP Leadership Team is made of: Floyd Brobbel of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada; Ron Boyd-MacMillan of Open Doors International; Daniel Hoffman of Middle East Concern; Brent McBurney of Advocates International; Linus Pfister, HMK Switzerland; and Godfrey Yogarajah, of the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission. A listing of RLP members is on the Ottawa Statement and on the RLP website.

The Opens external link in new windowIIRF has repeatedly published research concerning North Korea in its International Journal for Religious Freedom.

For further information about the Religious Liberty Partnership or the Ottawa Statement, please contact: Brian O’Connell, RLP Facilitator, e-mail: Opens window for sending; phone: +1 425.218.4718


- Religious persecution in North Korea 1945-2011, Jae-Chun Won, IJRF 2011:1.

- Brother against brother Could South Korea’s mega-churches ultimately pose a bigger threat to the North Korean underground church than Kim Il-Sung?, Hyun Sook Foley, IJRF 2012:2.


- Ottawa Statement (PDF)

- Photo: IIRF Directors Thomas Schirrmacher and Christof Sauer in conversation with Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett and Mervyn Thomas, Chairperson of the Religious Liberty Partnership


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