Pyongyang, March 9 (KCNA) -- The family members of 31 inhabitants detained by the south Korean authorities sent a letter of protest Wednesday to the minister of "Unification" and the president of Red Cross of south Korea.
The following is the full text of the letter:
We are the family members of the 31 inhabitants who have been detained by the south Korean side since they went adrift due to bad weather after going to the waters of West Sea to gather shellfish on February 5.
Our mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters left their houses with smiles on their faces after making a promise to come back soon as usual. So we were greatly surprised to hear the news that they went adrift to south Korea unexpectedly and were detained there.
We have eagerly waited for the south Korean authorities to send them back soon on the principle of noble Red Cross humanitarianism. But they have not yet returned home though a month has passed since then.
Nobody believes the south Korean authorities′ assertion that four of them expressed the "will to defect."
All of them grew up in happiness under the care of the DPRK. They are hard-working people, making sincere efforts with affection for their families.
No one knows about this better than us kinsmen.
They went adrift after going out to the sea with no other aim but to gather shellfish.
The south Korean authorities had also recognized this and made it public.
Nevertheless, the south Korean authorities have held them in custody for nearly a month and are not willing to send four of them back under the pretext that they expressed the "will to defect". We think this is totally unfair.
All of us who are close neighbors and comrades fully vouch for the above-said four persons as we shared will and feelings with their family members.
We do not wish to become "separated families", a product of tragic national division.
It is a very unjust and resentful thing hard to image that parents should be forced to separate from their children and husbands from their wives in peacetime, not in wartime.
It is nonsensical for them to come back via Panmunjom far away from their hometown after discarding their serviceable ship though they may come back soon by ship.
We lodge a strong protest with the south Korean authorities against this unfair attitude and urge them to enable the 31 members of our families to come back as early as possible along the sea route taken by their ship.
We, at the same time, expect that you will not block the face-to-face meeting of the four persons with their families and allow the former to come out for it.
It is our belief that neither confirmation by a third person nor any video can recognize the said persons′ will and only a direct meeting with them will make all the facts clear.
We once again strongly demand the south Korean authorities unconditionally and immediately send all the 31 detained inhabitants back home where their families are waiting for them, if they have elementary conscience, compatriotism and humanitarian spirit.