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China's security officers, in a brazen display of intolerance toward human rights on Wednesday, forcefully disrupted a Beijing press conference that was intended to spotlight the plight of North Korean refugees inside China.

Organizers of the Jan. 12 press conference had hoped to bring fresh attention to the unsolved disappearance of Kim Dong-shik, a South Korean pastor abducted by North Koreans five years ago.

Meeting at a Beijing hotel, South Korean Rep. Kim Moon-soo and three other parliamentarians of the opposition party organized the press conference. They hoped to draw new attention to the fate of about 300,000 North Korean refugees inside China. They are urging China to "show compassion" to those North Koreans who manage to escape the repressive communist regime of Kim Jong-Il.

Witnesses say shortly before the press conference was to begin at the Beijing Great Wall Sheraton Hotel conference room, several plain-clothed Chinese state security agents, who refused to identify themselves, ordered the meeting to be stopped.

When Rep. Kim began to speak, the agents shut off his microphone and the cut the room's electricity. Chaos ensued as some 40 journalists were shoved out of the room in the dark, and a legislative aide to Rep. Kim was dragged out of the room, according to one eyewitness.

"This incident is a very grievous event that seriously threatens the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of China," Rep. Kim and other parliamentary members said in a statement.

"We urge the [Chinese] government to punish the person or persons in charge of the dozen or so unidentified ruffians who shoved the reporters out of the conference room and threatened us on several occasions with the use of force." ...

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January 2005

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