The Edmonds and Lynnwood-based family of detained American Kenneth Bae is holding a vigil Saturday evening in Seattle to pray for his release from a North Korean labor camp. A fresh surge of media coverage (including this Aug. 8 Associated Press news report in The Seattle Times) should prompt our local community to pay attention and take action.
Bae was detained more than nine months ago after leading a group of tourists across the border from China. He is accused of committing hostile acts against the country, though specific details of his arrest and alleged crimes are scant. No other American in recent years has spent more time in the reclusive regime’s prison system, especially following Kim Jong Un’s ascent to the head of state.
ICYMI: Terri Chung, Bae’s sister, painted a human picture of her brother in this July 29 Seattle Times guest column. As I pointed out in this July 22 Opinion NW blog post, our editorial board has published numerous editorials and blog posts since last December, from arguing for answers to calling for his release on humanitarian grounds. Chung argues Bae’s health is rapidly deteriorating — and the North Koreans seem “open to communication.”
The family is desperate for help.
So what can you do? Several things:
- Join Bae’s family at Quest Church on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. for the “Prayer Vigil for Kenneth.” The church is located at 3233 15th Avenue W. in Seattle’s Interbay district.
- Sign a petition for special amnesty started by Bae’s son, Jonathan at www.change.org/FreeKenNow. As of Thursday afternoon, about 7,500 signers have participated, and the organizers need about 2,500 more to get the petition to President Barack Obama.
- Write a letter of encouragement to Bae. American journalists and former detainees Laura Ling and Euna Lee are collecting letters via email. Messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org