Cambodian Police Violate U.N. Refugee Laws; Deport Two Falun Gong Refugees to China

"We call on the U.N. to take immediate action to protect those to whom it has granted refugee status"

NEW YORK, August 12, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) — Cambodian police, under pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, have deported a Chinese couple who were living and working in Phnom Penh with U.N. Refugee Certificates, sources in Phnom Penh say.

The couple is being held in a detention center in Changsha City, the capital city of Hunan Province in China. Their condition, however, is unknown, these sources say. Under Jiang’s three-year campaign to eradicate Falun Gong, this couple’s fate is likely to include unlimited incarceration and torture should the couple refuse to renounce their spiritual beliefs. Sources inside China say well over 1,600 have died from abuse while in police custody for persisting in the Falun Gong meditation practice.

Li, Guojun and his wife Zhang Xinyi are former residents of Changsha City. They escaped from China to Phnom Penh after Chinese President Jiang Zemin launched the persecution campaign against Falun Gong in July, 1999.

“This is a blatant and direct violation of their official status as U.N. refugees,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson, Mr. Erping Zhang. “We call on the U.N. to take immediate action to protect those to whom it has granted refugee status.” Mr. Zhang continued, “At this very moment, this couple could be facing severe torture or worse, simply because of their beliefs. This is precisely the situation the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established to prevent. Immediate action is necessary.”

A New Life Interrupted

Upon settling in Phnom Penh in 1999, Li, Guojun and his wife soon got jobs teaching Chinese in a local Chinese school. In May 2002, a friend from abroad sent the couple a package containing Falun Gong books and materials. Upon discovering the package, the Chinese school in Phnom Penh fired them from their jobs.

In June, the couple applied for an extension for their Chinese passports at the Chinese Embassy, and were refused. Finally in July, they applied and obtained official U.N. Refugee Certificates.

On August 2, however, the couple was arrested by the Cambodian police who were reportedly pressured and directed by the Chinese Embassy to send them back to Changsha City, which they did on August 9.

Their current condition is unknown. The Changsha City detention center could not be reached for comment.