Vigil to be held on Parliament Hill for Toronto pastor in North Korean prison

OTTAWA - Hundreds of supporters of a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea are to demonstrate on Parliament Hill today to urge the government to press for his release.

See Full Article

Hyeon Soo Lim, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church of Mississauga, Ont., was sentenced by a North Korean court to life in prison at hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.

Among other things, he was charged with harming the dignity of North Korea's supreme leader and trying to use religion to destroy the country's system.

Last month, CNN was granted extraordinary access to Lim and broadcast a televised interview in which he described his eight-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week regime of hard labour and said his North Korean jailers had yet to honour his request for a Bible.

Richard Ha, a spokesman for his church, told The Canadian Press that Lim steered clear of politics on previous trips to North Korea.

He said he was focused on helping orphans and others living in poverty.

"It's just his heart," said Ha. "Having a heart for the people of North Korea and wanting to help in any way that he can - he's driven by his faith."

Ha said about 300 supporters will hold a prayer vigil on the lawn of Parliament Hill today, calling on the government to take more action at a higher level to ask for his freedom. A petition with 165,000 signatures calling for his release will also be highlighted.

"What started as a petition by two Edmonton women has grown into a global movement that has secured the support of tens and tens of thousands," said Kathryn Semogas, the Canadian spokeswoman with the petition platform Change.org.

Foreign affairs critic Tony Clement is to hold a news conference on the Hill as well to urge more action.

Ha said Lim's family and his congregation are grateful for everything Canada has done so far to try to win his release, but they want to bring attention to his cause.

At the same time, they are also walking a fine line and don't want to do anything to anger North Korea's leadership. The hermit kingdom, cloistered from the world, is pursuing a nuclear bomb while many of its civilians starve.

Lim, who turned 61 on Tuesday, needs medication to control his diabetes, said Ha.

Ha said Swedish diplomats in North Korea have been allowed to bring medication to Lim in prison, but to his knowledge he has been denied all other visits.

Canada, like many countries, does not have an embassy in North Korea, and has advised against all travel there.

Lim has a wife and adult son living in the Toronto area.

Lim told CNN that his faith has not been shaken, and he continues to pray.

"Nobody knows if I will ever go home, but that is my hope. I miss my family. I am longing to see them again, and my congregation," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trump won't pardon sheriff; tensions high at rally site

    World News CTV News
    PHOENIX -- U.S. President Donald Trump won't pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio during his visit to Arizona, the White House said Tuesday as supporters and protesters gathered near the site of Trump's latest campaign rally. Source
  • Niki Ashton rejects NDP leadership endorsement from man B'nai Brith calls a Holocaust denier

    Canada News CBC News
    NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton is rejecting unwanted political support from a controversial Canadian-Palestinian that B'nai Brith Canada has singled out as a Holocaust denier. "It has come to my attention that our campaign was shown support by a member of the public on Facebook known to hold anti-Semitic views and has made public comments denying the atrocities of the Holocaust," Ashton said in a statement Tuesday. Source
  • 4 Winnipeg teens charged after man's online date ends in car jacking

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Four Winnipeg teenagers have been charged in what police say was an online dating scam that ended with a man's vehicle being stolen. Police say the teens created a fake profile on a popular dating website with the sole intent of luring a person to a location for a robbery. Source
  • In chaotic meeting, Charlottesville votes to shroud statues

    World News CTV News
    The Charlottesville City Council voted to drape two Confederate statues in black fabric during a chaotic meeting packed with irate residents who screamed and cursed at councillors over the city's response to a white nationalist rally. Source
  • Photographer Boris Spremo remembered for charm, skill, chutzpah

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Award-winning photojournalist Boris Spremo, a blue-eyed charmer who captured intimate and surprising moments from world leaders and average citizens alike, has died. The retired newsman died Monday in hospital after a short battle with cancer, said Diana Spremo, one of his four daughters. Source
  • B.C. Mountie enforcing distracted driving rules struck in hit-and-run

    Canada News CTV News
    RICHMOND, B.C. -- RCMP say a Mountie enforcing distracted driving laws in Richmond, B.C., was hit by a vehicle that fled the scene. Police say an officer stopped a brown 2005 Audi after the driver was seen allegedly using a mobile device while behind the wheel on Monday. Source
  • Bourbon, pizzas and spaghetti sauce cover Arkansas roads

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAMDEN, Ark. — It’s a smorgasbord on Arkansas highways, with the third food spill in as many weeks. A truck driver distracted by a GPS unit crashed near the intersection of U.S. 278 and Arkansas 24 at Camden early Monday and spilled a truckload of spaghetti sauce. Source
  • Ontario man in U.S. custody faces more child sex exploitation charges in Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    MARKHAM, Ont. -- Ontario Provincial Police say a Canadian man charged in the U.S. after allegedly flying to Atlanta in an attempt to have sex with an underage girl he met online will face further charges in Canada. Source
  • Cross-border booze appeal a chance to hit reset on interprovincial trade, MP says

    Canada News CBC News
    A Conservative MP in British Columbia is urging Canadians to contact their members of Parliament about the New Brunswick case involving cross-border alcohol limits that heads to the Supreme Court of Canada in December. Dan Albas, who previously fought for interprovincial wine trade, says the case of Gerard Comeau is an opportunity for the country to "hit the reset button" on interprovincial trade as a whole. Source
  • Minor clashes as Trump protesters flood downtown Phoenix

    World News CBC News
    Protesters got into minor scuffles and shouting matches with U.S. President Donald Trump supporters on Tuesday as hundreds of people lined up to get inside a Phoenix, Ariz., rally that marks his first political event since the violence in Charlottesville, Va. Source