Australian Immigration Hours from Sending Elderly Couple Back to Persecution

Family Already Tortured to Death -- Couple Faces Imminent Deportation Back into the Hands of Their Oppressors

SYDNEY (FDI) — Two years ago, the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Wang escaped fatal persecution and joined their son in the safety of Australia. Three years ago, Mr. Wang’s brother-in-law was tortured to death for practicing Falun Gong. Three and a half years ago, Mr. Wang, himself, was knocked unconscious from electric-shock torture by Chinese prison guards. Today, however, the Australian immigration is poised to deport him and his wife back to the persecution in China. 

“The Australian government can and must intervene to spare their lives,” says Adam Montanaro, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. “Sending a Falun Gong practitioner back to China is to doom them to a life of prison and torture.”

Mr. Wang Juntao, 66 and Ms. Wang Liluan, 62 were due to be deported earlier today after their application for a visa was repeatedly rejected. Reportedly, they were already forced onto a plane, and where about to take off when a flight attendant discovered that Mr. Wang suffers from heart disease and let him off the plane.

The couple are currently being held in a Sydney detention center, and are scheduled to be deported again tomorrow, at 3:28pm, Sydney time. Only hours from returning the couple to certain persecution, the Australian government has not shown signs of changing their stance.

“Well-Founded Fear of Persecution” Says Amnesty International

Seeing that the couple’s refugee applications continued to be rejected, Amnesty International appealed on behalf of the two on January 8, 2003. “Amnesty International believes that Mr. and Ms. Wang have a well-founded fear of persecution,” reads AI’s special report on the case.

However, Gerry Barrett of the Ministerial Interventions Unit once again refused their request.

While the Immigration Department continues to claim that the two would not be at risk upon returning to China, both the practitioners and Amnesty think differently. “The ongoing ‘strike-hard’ campaign,” according to the same AI report, “means that any practitioner could be at risk. In the case of Mr. and Ms. Wang who have been detained in the past, the risk would be even greater.”

As Falun Gong practitioners, their lives could be in danger as soon as they return to China. Numerous human rights organizations have reported the brutal persecution of Falun Gong by China’s current regime. Thousands of practitioners were arrested out of their homes or neighborhood parks, while others have been fired from their jobs or taken to labor camps for practicing the peaceful meditation. The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of nearly 600 Falun Gong practitioners who were killed as a result of torture suffered while in detention.

Family Already Suffered Torture, Death Over Last 3 Years

The Wang’s have already been victims of the persecution.

Mr. Wang was arrested in his home in September 1999 while having a meal with his brother and son. While in detention, Mr. Wang was beaten and shocked repeatedly with electric batons until he lost consciousness.

In October 1999, when Ms. Wang arrived at the detention center to appeal for her husband, she too was arrested. They were both released later that month, yet their IDs were confiscated and they were forced to report to the local police-station everyday.

A month later, Mr. Wang’s brother-in-law was detained. He was tortured to death several months later. Two of Mr. Wang’s own brothers have also been sent to labor camp, and a close friend of his was sentenced, without any legal process, to 18 years in a labor camp.

Apparently, the Chinese authorities have not forgotten about the two since they escaped to Australia. On April 20, 2002, for example, police ransacked their house without warrant. According to information they submitted to Amnesty International, their son, who worked at the Chengcheng police station, was fired simply because his parents practice Falun Gong.

In 2000, the Australian government aided in the release of Australian citizen and Falun Gong practitioner Zhang Cuiying who was tortured for eight months in a Chinese labor camp. Friends of the couple as well as Amnesty International now hope that the Australian government will not force these two back to a horrible future in China.

“Amnesty International would like to emphasize Australia’s obligations under International law, including the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, which… prohibits the forcible return of any person to a country where he or she faces serious human rights violation on return.”

Contacts: Lillian Ou 0416 169 985, Kai Song 0404 085 872, Tony Dai 0416 234 095

Department of Immigration: (61) 2 6277 7860