North Korean Christian evangelist to be executed as example

.- An international organization that assists persecuted Christians around the world, launched a worldwide campaign July 10th to free a North Korean man awaiting public execution for being a Christian.

For more than a year, Son Jong Nam, a former army officer turned underground evangelist, has been beaten, tortured and held in a bleak, North Korean death row basement jail in the capital city. He has been sentenced to public execution as an example to the North Korean people.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) has been joined in the initiative by U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R-Kan).

Brownback sent letters last week, also signed by Senators Baucus (D-Mont.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Vitter (R-La.), asking U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to work to secure the release of the Christian prisoner.

VOM is calling on people in the United States and around the world to write letters and send e-mails on Son Jong Nam's behalf.

"We are asking for prayers for Mr. Son, but also that people around the world take action on his behalf," said Todd Nettleton of VOM.

In his letters to Rice and Ban, Brownback wrote: "Future cooperation and engagement with North Korea will be far more challenging if its leaders continue to persecute their own people for religious views. The United States has made political and religious freedoms important elements in its diplomatic relations, and we are gravely concerned about abuses of such basic rights in North Korea."

According to Nettleton, North Korea is one of the most repressive and isolated regimes in the world and denies every kind of human right to its citizens. The country's previous leader, Kim Il Sung, founded an ideology called "juche," meaning "self-reliance," which is enforced in every aspect of the culture by the ruling elite. Kim Jong Il, the son of deceased leader Kim Il Sung, currently leads the country. In North Korea, both Kims are considered deities.

"All religions have been harshly repressed in North Korea," said Nettleton. "Thousands of Christians have been murdered since the Korean War. In 1953, there were an estimated 300,000 Christians; however, the number is much lower today. Christians must practice their faith in deep secrecy and are in constant danger."

Those who wish to join the letter campaign should go to www.prisoneralert.com for more information.

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