On Tuesday 12 April, Amnesty International representatives delivered over 165,500 petitions from around the world, calling for the closure of Yodok political prison camp in North Korea.

Watch the delivery at the North Korean embassy in Bern, Switzerland:


Both the police and the press were already waiting when our activists arrived. A representative of the embassy was talking to the police, telling them that they would not accept the appeals. He quickly went back inside the gates as soon as he saw our activists arriving. They rang the bell several times but the embassy refused to open the gates or to come out and accept the petitions. Our activists instead took the appeals to the post office and sent them by post to the embassy.

Although it is disappointing that the embassy would not accept the appeals directly, this public action ensured that Amnesty International’s presence was noticed. The embassy staff will have to report this back to the authorities in North Korea, so our calls on the North Korean government will definitely be heard.

A big thank you to everyone who took part in helping put the spotlight on this important issue. 165,500 voices reinforces what we can achieve when our sections work together. Of course it won't stop here. To continue working for the closure of Yodok, sign up to Individuals at Risk in China and North Korea today.

Scroll down to see images of the preparation of 165,000 appeals and the handover:

Amnesty International activists handing over a petition to the North Korean embassy, Bern, Switzerland, 12 April 2012. The petition contained over 165,000 appeals, signed by people all over the world, calling on the North Korean authorities to close Yodok political prison camp. The embassy refused to accept the petition.Amnesty International activists handing over a petition to the North Korean embassy, Bern, Switzerland, 12 April 2012. The petition contained over 165,000 appeals, signed by people all over the world, calling on the North Korean authorities to close Yodok political prison camp. The embassy refused to accept the petition. © Philippe Lionnet

Petitions piled up© Philippe Lionnet

Packaging the petition© Philippe Lionnet

Preparation of the petition© Philippe Lionnet

Packaging the petition© Philippe Lionnet

Background

We have been campaigning for the closure of Yodok political prison camp in North Korea. Yodok political prison camp is one of six known political prison camps (kwanliso or Control Centre) in North Korea. Tens of thousands of people are held in Yodok political prison camp, with an estimate of around 50,000. Most are imprisoned there without trial or following grossly unfair trials on the basis of "confessions" obtained through torture. Men, women and children in the camp are tortured and otherwise ill-treated, including being forced to work in dangerous conditions.

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