In the News – Boney M urges Beijing to be lenient on N. Korean defectors
SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) — A lead vocalist of the well-known disco group Boney M said on Tuesday that North Korean defectors detained in China should be given a chance at freedom, calling for Beijing to show leniency.
“There should be some kind of leniency, giving these people (defectors) a chance to live a life they have chosen,” Liz Mitchell said at a press conference in Seoul before playing a concert on Saturday.
Boney M’s three other members also showed support for North Korean defectors, according to Howard Kim, the manager of the concert organizer.
The four-member disco group, who achieved massive popularity during the disco era of the late 1970s, has voiced support for North Korean defectors in China who face deportation back to their communist homeland, where it is feared they will receive harsh punishment and even execution.
The 60-year-old Jamaican-German-American singer said she will donate part of the profits from the Seoul concert to a local defectors group that has staged hunger strikes to protest against Beijing’s policy of repatriation in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.
Local defectors and human rights activists supported by lawmakers and celebrities have held strikes in front of China’s mission in Seoul for several years.
Mitchell also showed admiration for a defector-turned-professor Lee Ae-ran for her efforts to shed light on the dire situation of North Korean defectors, by staging hunger strikes for nine days.
Lee, who fled from the North in 1997, is the first female defector to receive a doctoral degree in South Korea. Two years ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted Lee the Award for International Women of Courage for her work in promoting human rights of the North Korean refugee community.
“I am in support (of her) after talking to her,” Mitchell said, “It just takes one person for the power of movement. I believe that everyone follows after hearing her.”
Following the news conference, she went to the Chinese embassy in downtown Seoul to deliver her donation to the local defectors group.
Boney M plans to join other defectors at their rally on Wednesday, performing three gospel songs for the participants. Also, the group is scheduled to take part in a candlelight rally against the forceful repatriation of defectors in downtown Seoul before leaving the country next week.