South Korean activists are claiming that North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for allegedly distributing the Bible.
Ri Hyon-ok, 33, was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organising dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon bordering China on June 16, according to a report from the Investigative Commission on Crimes against Humanity, published on July 24, UCAN reports.
The report published Ri's North Korean government issued photo ID as evidence of the execution. Similar claims in the past have been difficult to confirm.
The commission is calling for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to be charged with crimes against humanity.
The coalition says membership of the "underground" Protestant Church has been growing in recent years and the North Korean government is ramping up its "war with religions."
Persecution of Christians has increased in tandem with recent international conflict on North Korea's nuclear program, Stephen Do Hee-youn, a Catholic member of the coalition told UCA News.
North Korea officially guarantees freedom of religion and there are several religious organisations of Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, and followers of Chondo-gyo, an indigenous Korean religion. The first Russian Orthodox Church in Pyongyang was recently established.
However, the country has only one Catholic and two Protestant churches, all in Pyongyang.
North Korea has had no resident Catholic clergy since the end of the Korean War in 1953, although the Protestants have pastors and a seminary.
South Korean Catholic priests have made irregular visits to the country where they have been allowed to celebrate Mass but banned from talking to local Catholics.
The activist alliance also alleged that in March, North Korean security agents arrested Seo Kum Ok, 30, another Christian, in a city near Ryongchon and tortured her, AP says.
The report said it remains unclear whether she survived. Her husband was also arrested and their two children disappeared, it said.
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Activists claim Christian executed in North Korea (UCA News)
Activists claim Christian executed in NKorea (Associated Press)
Religion in North Korea (Wikipedia)
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