Friday, September 9, 2011

Her words changed me

From the speech that Jennifer Bishop Jenkins gave at MVFHR's public event at the Franciscan Education Center in Seoul:

I am deeply grateful to be here in Seoul on this observance of the important 5,000th day without executions for your nation. This is an important achievement in your nation’s leadership for human rights and against murder.

I am a murder victims’ family member. My sister, her husband, and their unborn baby were murdered near Chicago, in the United States, in 1990. I came face to face with horrors no person should ever see. Since that time I have been dedicated to making sure that no family ever has to endure what our family had – to have three family members murdered. Killing is the deepest violation of our humanity possible.

My sister was 25 years old, a beautiful young wife, and she was pregnant with their first child. But Nancy, Richard, and the baby were murdered because a teenager just wanted to “see what it would feel like to shoot someone” for the “thrill” of it.

My sister watched the killer shoot Richard point blank in the back of the head. Her husband's head blown off in front of her, the killer then turned the gun on her as she begged for the life of her unborn child. And as she crossed her arms over her pregnant belly, sobbing “please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt my baby," the killer shot her directly in the abdomen, aiming for the baby.

The last thing she did before she died was to pull herself over by her husband, and with her finger in her blood she drew a Heart and a “U” – Love You – and then she died. With the last ounce of life she had in her body she told us she loved us. Nancy’s last act was to say, in the only way she could, that love was the most important thing in the world.

My sister’s dying words now define my life. Her words of love changed me. She taught me how wrong killing is – killing of all kinds.

Korea is filled with love. You are honorable people. You have already stopped executions. You know killing is wrong. Your people can now stand up to do what is right, what is loving, and abolish the death penalty.

Tragically, if I were living in Korea when this happened, my whole family would have to live in a shameful way after my sister’s murder. We would live without community support and the rights that all innocent crime victims should have. Murder victims’ family members are often pushed away here. They are not cared for as they should be. We should support them all. Victims’ Rights are Human Rights.

The USA has begun to realize, as I have, that it is not good for murder victims’ family members to have the offender executed. It does not bring justice or healing. It prolongs their agony and adds more bloodshed. It focuses attention on the offender and requires them to participate in more murder in order to finalize their justice. Life sentences for dangerous killers are the right thing to do.

Korea can be so proud of having a man who led your country now lead the world as Secretary General of the United Nations. His leadership against the death penalty is also very admirable.

It will honor the importance of love to abolish the death penalty. It will honor the fact that killing is wrong if you all abolish the death penalty. It will honor South Korea to become an international leader in Human Rights by finally and officially abolishing the death penalty.

Thank you for embracing murder victims’ families and for standing up against the evils of executions.

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