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Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005

Abductees' multinational kin unite

Japan supporters to stage rally to boost awareness of North's misdeeds

Staff writer

People from Thailand, Lebanon, South Korea and Japan whose kin were allegedly abducted to North Korea vowed Wednesday to join hands to seek the return of their loved-ones.

News photo
Relatives of people suspected of having been snatched away to North Korea from four countries speak to the media Wednesday in Tokyo.

They are in Tokyo to attend a rally Thursday aimed at boosting public awareness of the abductions and pressuring the government to impose economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

"It is becoming clear that North Korea abducted people from (as many as) 12 countries," said Shigeo Iizuka, whose younger sister was abducted to North Korea in the late 1970s. "We will cooperate with (relatives in) other countries to discuss ways to resolve this issue."

A citizens group working on behalf of relatives of the Japanese abductees said North Korean agents are believed to have kidnapped people from Romania, China, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Jordan.

This allegation is based on accounts of people who left North Korea, including former U.S. Army Sgt. Charles Jenkins, the American deserter husband of repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga. He was allowed to come to Japan in July 2004 to be with his wife, who was freed earlier by Pyongyang.

Sukham Panjoy, 59, of Thailand, told reporters that he is at a loss over how to get his younger sister, Anocha, back. She disappeared from Macau in 1978. Jenkins claimed he met her in North Korea, and Soga said she saw the woman in the North in 1989.

"I don't know where my sister is, what she is doing and where she is living," Sukham said.

Mountaha Chehade Haidar, 69, of Lebanon said every government should strive to resolve the abduction issue, and she will do everything she can to urge her country's president to take sufficient measures.

Haidar claimed her daughter, Shi'am, was taken to North Korea in 1978 after being told she had a job offer in Japan. Shi'am married a U.S. deserter in 1979 and gave birth to three sons.

Haidar said the last time she met her daughter -- in Italy in August 2001 -- Shi'am looked old and tired. She returned to North Korea because her sons were there, she added.

"She didn't seem to be able to talk freely, even to me," Haidar said.

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The Japan Times

Article 8 of 13 in National news

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