Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two U.S. journalists on assignment for Current TV were detained at North Korea’s border with China on March 17. Since then, they have been held in solitary confinement by the North Korean government and have not been allowed contact with their families.
On May 21st, the 70th day since they were detained, family, friends and people familiar with their situation, gathered at vigils in Chicago, Portland, Orlando, Los Angeles and in New York City at Rockefeller Center, to demand their safe return home to their families in the U.S.
Journalist Lisa Ling, Laura’s sister received one letter from Laura, dated May 15, 2009. Below are excerpts from Laura’s letter, read by her cousin Angie Wang, at the vigil.
When I first got here, I cried so much. Now, I cry less. I try very hard to think about positive things, but sometimes it is hard too. Some days I get to go outside and get some fresh air. In the early evening, I do some stretching. I also sit and meditate. I breathe deeply and think about positive things that have happened in the day. For example, I think “I’m lucky I made it through another day.” I’m lucky my family is working so hard to get me released. I’m thinking about you all constantly and how fortunate I am to have an amazing family. Stay strong and please take care of yourselves. That is my request. Know that I’m thinking of you and dreaming about being reunited with you all again.
All my love,
Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, their cameraman Mitch Koss and their Korean Chinese guide had entered China to interview North Korean defectors living along the PRC-DPRK border near the Tumen River. According to JoongAng Ilbo, a Seoul based newspaper, they were detained by North Korean border guards on March 17 as they were walking along the shallow Tumen River into North Korea. Although Koss and the Korean Chinese guide were able to escape capture by the North Koreans, Koss was detained by Chinese Border guards, and released.
North Korea has stated “they’re suspected of hostile acts”, and has charged them with spying and illegally crossing the border. Their trial date is set for June 4. If found guilty, they could be served a sentence of five to ten years in prison.
On Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 6 cities across the country will host public vigils to bring awareness to their detainment. Through a grassroots effort on FACEBOOK, Candlelight vigils in NYC, DC, Birmingham, LA, and San Francisco are being organized in the name of justice, upholding the truth and freedom for Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Bring a candle and come out to show your support.
DATE: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
TIME: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Washington Square Park (The Fountain)
5th Ave & Waverly Place
To volunteer or for more information, please email Danielle Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.