North Korean defectors honor Otto Warmbier, Kim Jong Un’s victims
‘The North Korean Freedom Foundation’ chair Suzanne Scholte joins ‘Fox News Live’ to discuss the protests in front of North Korea’s mission to the United Nations.
Flowers declaring freedom and honoring an American victim of Kim Jong Un’s barbaric regime were placed by activists in front of the building that houses the North Korean mission to the United Nations, as a reminder of the horrors of Kim’s regime and his continued violations of human rights.
“People are dying every day in North Korea in the political prison camps, women are being tortured in the detention centers,” says Suzanne Scholte, the chair of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, which sponsored the protest. “We need to put human rights at the forefront, it is the Achilles’ heel of the regime.”
“All regimes like this eventually come down,” she says. “They are brainwashed to hate America and think that we are the enemy.”
PUSH TO HONOR OTTO WARMBIER BY RENAMING STREET OUTSIDE NORTH KOREAN UN MISSION GETS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
A photo showing Otto Warmbier and North Korean victims of the Kim regime outside the North Korean U.N. mission in New York. (Fox News)
The group of North Korean escapees told their stories and gathered on the sidewalk on Manhattan’s Second Avenue and 44th Street to show their solidarity and support for the victims of Kim’s torture and execution policies, and especially remember the plight of Otto Warmbier.
“They understand what Otto went through because they were tortured, as he was,” says Scholte.
“All efforts to stop the brutal Kim regime will be successful in time,” Otto’s mother, Cindy Warmbier, told Fox News. She and her husband Fred have been on the forefront of fighting for human rights in North Korea and raising global attention on Kim’s victims, like their son. “Focus on the concentration camps. The truth of the Kim family is ugly and needs to be viewed to the world one day soon,” she said.
Otto was a 22-year-old college student from Ohio, attending the University of Virginia. He was about to leave the country after a student tour of North Korea in 2016 when he was falsely arrested, imprisoned and then tortured by the regime. Supporters say he was grabbed for Kim’s propaganda purposes solely because he was an American.
Otto was put on a show trial and during his 18-month imprisonment, was severely beaten and tortured. He was returned home by the regime unable to speak and hear, suffering severe brain injuries, and died in a Cincinnati hospital in June 2017. He has since become an international symbol for human rights and the struggle against dictatorial regimes like North Korea’s.
A campaign is underway to change the street name outside the North Korean U.N. mission in New York City to Otto Warmbier Way. (Fox News)
“Their willingness to fight for the justice of the Otto Warmbier and fighting against the brutal Kim regime, and actually their voice is adding the awareness of the reality of North Korea and the cruelty of Kim regime,” said North Korean defector Seohyun Lee. She called the protest and placing of flowers on the regime’s doorstep, “a really big support for the whole North Korean people.”
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS READY TO BACK NAMING STREET HONORING OTTO WARMBIER
“Don’t forget all of the North Korean people who are still suffering in this 21st century… under the like unique, brutal dictatorship,” she told Fox News.
One sign declared the spot “Otto Warmbier Way,” a reference to the proposal to name the corner after Otto as a reminder to the North Koreans of the brutality of the system that they represent. The idea has garnered the support of two New York City mayors, current Mayor Eric Adams and former Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as current Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, former borough president and current West Side Councilmember Gail Brewer, the district New York State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein as well as multiple members of the U.S. Senate and Congress. But the elected official who has to approve the measure, City Councilman Keith Powers, has yet to sign on to it.
Pictures of victims of the North Korean regime are placed outside the country’s U.N. mission in New York. (Fox News)
The protesters support the re-naming as a symbol of the suffering of their fellow citizens. They also detailed the first-hand horrors that their fellow North Koreans face every day.
“If you go out on the street, especially in wintertime, you can see dead bodies, the corpses. And then people think if people see that dead body and then they say, ‘Oh, it’s not surprised. Oh, today another person got death,'” said Songmi Han.
NORTH KOREAN HUMAN RIGHTS REMAIN VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT, STATE DEPARTMENT FINDS
“I didn’t know when I was in North Korea there’s human rights or women rights or … basic rights. I never heard of those words. So that’s why North Korean people also have to know that outside of North Korea, there is freedom.”
The parents of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student who died after being imprisoned by North Korea and released by the country in a coma in 2017, should receive $240,300 seized from a North Korean bank account, a federal judge ruled last week. (Warmbier family)
The North Korean Freedom Coalition is trying to save hundreds of North Korean escapees who are being held in China and is calling on the Biden administration and Congress to address their plight with Beijing. The group of escapees also met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the issue.
“If they are repatriated, they will be executed and killed,” says Scholte.
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“We need to pressure China not to force these people back to North Korea, but allow them safe passage to South Korea,” she says. “There is nothing to be gained by China forcing them to their death in North Korea.”
Fox News’ Shelly Xu contributed to this report.
Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV