Parliament Hill vigil set for Toronto pastor held 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 manage his blood pressure.

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

  • Suspected car thief dies in fall from crane after police chase

    World News CTV News
    Authorities have released the name of a suspected car thief who fell to his death from a loading crane at the Port of Los Angeles after leading police on a chase across the city. The coroner's office on Thursday identified the man as 23-year-old James Llamas. Source
  • Canadians in Spain told to avoid Barcelona tourist area

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canadians in Spain are being urged to avoid the Las Ramblas area in Barcelona, where a van has plowed through a crowd in the popular tourist area near the city centre. Spanish police say at least one person was killed and 32 more injured in the attack, which police say has been confirmed as an act of terror. Source
  • Terror in Spain: Multiple fatalities after van plows pedestrians in Barcelona [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BARCELONA, Spain — A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. In a photograph shown by public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Source
  • Justice officials testing waters for sentencing reform promised by Liberals

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The Justice Department wants to know what Canadians think of changing some of the former Conservative government's controversial tough-on-crime sentencing legacy, including mandatory minimum penalties. An online survey asks respondents to judge several unique scenarios, such as a brain-damaged offender whose condition leads to poor decision-making skills, or a single mother whose children were placed in foster care after her arrest. Source
  • Boston free speech rally to proceed with tight restrictions

    World News CTV News
    Boston has granted permission for an event that organizers are calling a free speech rally but that some people fear is actually a white nationalist rally similar to the one that erupted in violence in Virginia last weekend. Source
  • Live updates from Barcelona: Multiple deaths confirmed in van attack

    World News CTV News
    BARCELONA, Spain - The Latest on the van that ran into a crowd in Barcelona's Las Ramblas district (all times local): 6:30 p.m. Police in Spain have confirmed there are fatalities after a van slammed into pedestrians in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district. Source
  • Students to live with seniors at retirement home in London, Ont.

    Canada News CTV News
    When Western University graduate Heather Gingerich saw a news segment about an Ohio retirement home where music students lived alongside seniors, she was amazed at the electric atmosphere as the young residents conversed with and performed for their older neighbours. Source
  • Alberta woman coaxed teen girls into prostitution

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OKOTOKS -- Helping four teenage girls enter the seedy underworld of prostitution has landed a High River woman a two-year prison sentence. Samantha Pedersen pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge under the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act for introducing her victims to prostitution. Source
  • 'Hard to see them die without answers': WSIB commissions new study on McIntyre Powder exposure

    Canada News CBC News
    Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced on Thursday that it will conduct a new independent study to analyze the possible linkage between McIntyre Powder exposure and neurological disease. Tens of thousands of miners were told to protect their lungs from silicosis by inhaling aluminum dust between the 1930s and 1970s. Source
  • Terror in Spain: Multiple fatalities after van plows pedestrians in Barcelona [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BARCELONA, Spain — A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. In a photograph shown by public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Source