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Issue 28: China's Tentacles Envelop Russia  
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Falun Gong Human Rights Newsletter, Issue 28

China's Tentacles Envelop Russia

Russia Deports Three Ignoring UN Refugee Status

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On March 28, 2007, Russian Immigration Officials ignored Ms. Ma Hui and her daughter's UN refugee status and her court hearing scheduled for March 30, and deported them into the clutches of the very cadres they got refugee status to escape. Then on May 13, they picked up 73-year-old UN refugee, Professor Gao Chunman in order to deport him. It seems that Russia has not gone very far from its Communist base. See below for the details of Prof. Gao's and Ma Hui's sudden deportations, and of her husband's futile effort to save her.

Say Goodbye to Professor Gao

On May 13, around noon, 5 or 6 Russian police broke into Professor Gao Chunman's home, confiscated his passport, cut off his phone lines, and forcibly took him away. Since he had had a stroke and could not walk, they had to carry him; they did not even allow him to change clothes or say goodbye to his wife. That night, they placed Prof. Gao on an airplane and deported him back to China, completely ignoring his United Nations refugee status and the danger to his very life once back there.

It was years earlier that Gao, a Falun Gong practitioner and former professor from Tsinghua University, had escaped to Russia. In 2003, he applied for, and was granted U.N. refugee status.

Ma Hui and Her Daughter Deported before Their Court Hearing

8-year-old Jingjing, deported to China in March

On March 28, 2007, with the same peremptory disdain, Russian Immigration officials came to Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Ma Hui's home in St. Petersburg, seized her and her 8-year-old daughter, Jingjing, and forcibly put them on a plane to Beijing. Just as with Gao, they completely ignored their U. N. refugee status as well as the danger to their lives. Nor did they consider any safe alternative. In cases where the host country refuses to offer asylum to a refugee, the U.N. is supposed to be given the opportunity to find a third country that will accept the refugee. Russia's actions short-circuited any such possibility.

According to witnesses, a Chinese man, acting in tandem with a Russian police officer, was seen putting Ms. Ma Hui and her daughter on a flight from St. Petersburg to Beijing at 7:50 p.m. Moscow time on March 28. After arriving in Beijing, the police delivered little Jingjing to her aunt, but they delivered Ms. Ma into the clutches of the very Chinese cadres responsible for persecuting her.

The Chinese police detained her, refusing to disclose her whereabouts to her relatives. They later released her, perhaps because of the widespread media attention she received. Within several days of her repatriation, a total of 31 media and websites had reported the deportation, including the influential Russian radio station "Echo."

UN Refugee Status Means Nothing in Russia

Many are concerned about what will happen to these three UN refugees and that, when media attention subsides, both Prof. Gao and Ms. Ma may face imprisonment, forced labor, torture and having their organs harvested as has happened to many other Falun Gong practitioners. If no danger exists, why did the UN grant them refugee status in the first place?

Mr. Gao obtained refugee status in 2003. For the last three years, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Russia has recognized Ms. Ma and her daughter as legitimate refugees. They were two days from a March 30 court date to renew their status.

Russia's not acknowledging Prof. Gao's status and not waiting two more days for Ms. Ma's court date violate the non-refoulement prohibitions of the Convention Against Torture, which Russia has ratified and is obligated to follow, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It is too early for international agencies and media to respond to Prof. Gao's deportation. Regarding Ms. Ma and her daughter, however, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees published a press release on March 30, stating, "UNHCR is concerned at their forcible deportation in violation of the Russian Federation's international obligations and of the Russian Federation Law on Refugees, both of which prohibit the return of asylum seekers to their country of origin before a final decision on their asylum claims has been made. The Russian Federation is a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees."

The U.N. Red Cross representative added, "Not only did the Russian government violate its own laws by repatriating Ma Hui, it also violated the related European Human Rights treaty as well as the International Refugee Repatriation Treaty. Furthermore, it is usual practice to inform a United Nations Red Cross representative and the lawyer, and a signature must be obtained from the family members before repatriation."

Mr. Bart Staes, a member of the European Parliament and former Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, sent a letter to Russian authorities imploring them to stop the repatriation. Staes said he was "very concerned that Ms. Ma Hui will be arrested in China as soon as she gets off the plane," and fears for her fate, given that "practitioners of Falun Gong die every day in China, in the context of organ harvesting and widespread torture..."

Starting on Saturday, March 17, Russian authorities unlawfully detained and arrested numerous Falun Gong practitioners. In each case practitioners were attempting to exercise their constitutional rights of protest and demonstration in proximity to the Chinese Embassy in Moscow. Seven Falun Gong practitioners were arrested on March 17, followed by another 22 the next day. Sources in Russia report that on March 19 and 20, the police arrested many more throughout Moscow, not just for passing out human rights literature, but also for the simple act of wearing clothing identifying them as practitioners of Falun Gong (for example, the yellow scarves with the Falun Gong principle, "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance" written on them in Chinese).

Repatriated practitioners are in imminent danger. In March 2005, Falun Gong practitioners Mr. Jiang Renzheng, his wife, Ms. Guo Rui, and their two children were sent from Germany into the waiting jaws of the Chinese police.

Although a Bavarian Court wrongfully stated, "It will be highly unlikely that [Mr. Jiang and Ms. Guo] will have to fear persecution upon returning to China," the couple faced persecution the moment they stepped off the plane. After a month of continuous harassment, on April 8, 2005, the police sentenced Mr. Jiang to three years of forced labor at the Benxi Labor Camp.

It is unfortunate that the governments of the world don't learn from others' mistakes and stop condemning Falun Gong practitioners to the persecution China has repeatedly meted out.

Ms. Ma's Husband Recalls the Deportation

Ma Hui and her daughter.

Three years ago, the United Nations granted my wife, Hui Ma (44 years old) and my daughter, refugee status because she is a Falun Gong practitioner. In order to obtain refugee status in Russia, the court in St. Petersburg had to hear her case. Her next court date was scheduled for March 30, 2007.

At around 8:00 am (Moscow time) on March 28, 6-7 policemen came to our home and took my wife and our 8-year-old daughter, Jingjing, and Christina, a Russian girl who was in our home, playing with our daughter. I was not at home at the time. At around 10:30 am, the immigration office in my district called and asked me to get Christina from their office. They were not going to keep Christina, but told me that they would deport my wife and daughter to Beijing that very day.

Together with some other practitioners, we immediately tried to rescue them. We informed the officers of the Red Cross in our district about what had happened. We visited the immigration office, but could not find the responsible person. The staff there told us that the responsible persons had all gone to the international airport to do a deportation task and my wife and daughter were being held in the airport to be put on the plane to Beijing that evening.

We immediately went to the airport together with one representative of the Red Cross and one lawyer. The officer from the immigration office in the airport denied that my wife and daughter were in the airport and said they had no idea what happened to them. When we demanded to meet the officer who went to the airport to do the deportation task, he said he did not know where anyone was.

At the same time, the Red Cross representative and the lawyer were contacting the Russian Immigration Office. They were told that the head of the Russian Immigration Office had signed the deportation order and that it was useless to try to stop the deportation. When we asked the police at the airport to help find Hui Ma and Jingjing, they said they had no duty to do that.

We saw some Chinese people at the airport and we suspected that Chinese agents were involved. Until the plane took off, we never had a chance to see my wife and daughter.

We learned that a police officer escorted my wife and daughter to Beijing. That is very unusual. It makes the whole thing more mysterious. What would make Russia violate the international constitution and even its own law to kowtow to the CCP (according to Russian law, no foreigner can be deported before the court completes the legal process)? The latest news is that one of my wife's relatives went to the airport to pick her up, but did not see her or our daughter. Their names were not even on the passenger list.

I am extremely worried about their whereabouts. I will continue to ask the Immigration Office to return my wife and daughter.

Chenguang Li March 29, 2007

Will Chenguang Li ever be reunited with his wife and daughter? As he dares not return to China, and they cannot leave, will he ever see them again? What will happen to Professor Gao? Since their future is now in the CCP's hands, we can only hope.


1. Contact Russian Embassies in Your Countries

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3. "Olympic conscience" initiative.

The international community has awarded China the honor of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. People and all countries that want to send a message to China about its abuse of human rights may boycott the China Olympic Games. To let your voice be heard you can contact the International Olympic Committee, or contact the Olympic Committee in your country.

Write to IOC.

International Olympic Committee
Chateau de Vidy
1007 Lausanne
Tel: (41.21) 621 61 11
Fax: (41.21) 621 62 16

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