It’s hard to tell if Aijalon Mahli Gomes will actually spend eight years of his life in a prison in the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea. But it looks as if he put himself there.
Gomes, a Boston man, was sentenced to eight years of hard labor and ordered to pay a $700,000 fine for crossing into that country illegally earlier this year, state media reported Wednesday.
According to The Wichita Eagle:
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore said the government had seen the reports but she could not immediately comment. Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations…..
U.S. Sen. John Kerry called on North Korea to release Gomes immediately on a humanitarian basis…….
A spokeswoman for Gomes' family said they were "disturbed" by the verdict.
"The family has no comment beyond that they are praying for him and hoping for his return home as soon as possible," Thaleia Schlesinger said in Boston. "Needless to say, they are disturbed (by the sentence) but they are hopeful that he would be returned home to them and they are praying for that."
It was unclear what might have compelled Gomes to risk going into communist North Korea illegally.
However, Gomes - described by friends as a devout Christian - attended rallies in Seoul in support of Park, a fellow Christian from the U.S. who deliberately went into the North in December to call attention to the nation's rights record."
The article quoted a statement of the DPR of North Korea:
"An examination was made of the hostile act committed against the (North) Korean nation and the trespassing on the border of (North Korea), against which an indictment was brought in and his guilt was confirmed," the report said."
It may be an exaggeration to say that Gomes was a serious threat to North Korea. But he should have known better than to intentionally cross over into that country illegally. North Korea is a xenophobic nation that doesn’t like strangers wander across its borders. They may return him to a US politician for the publicity as they did with. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Gomes probably thought he could promote Christianity in some way. But the truth is he broke the law. He went into a foreign country that has no diplomatic ties to his homeland, the US and it is his own fault he is in prison. People who intentionally flaunt the laws of other countries should not expect our government’s leaders to waist valuable time trying to get them back when these people know the chances they are taking.
Gomes new the risk of trying to preach evangelicalism in a country such as North Korea and he should be willing to take what ever punishment he gets. There are too many evangelicals that seem to believe that their religion gives them the right to go to any country and flaunt any nation’s laws. If they believe in their religions so much, they should be willing to take the consequences for their actions.