Restrictions on Freedom of Movement
Chapter 12, 2010 Annual Report
Adherents in China continued to face significant difficulties in 2009 in obtaining permission to travel overseas, including consistently having passport applications be rejected by the authorities. In some cases, practitioners’ family members also had their freedom of movement restricted.
While some Falun Gong practitioners are able to leave China via normal channels due to previous possession of a valid passport or via their employers, less fortunate adherents have routinely been denied their applications to obtain valid travel documents by the government. As such, in many cases, if Falun Gong adherents wish to leave China, they must escape through China’s relatively porous border with Burma, eventually making their way to Thailand and filing for refugee status. Many of the persecution victims now residing overseas escaped precisely through this channel.
In addition to being subjected to international travel restrictions, Falun Gong adherents are sometimes placed under a state of virtual house arrest by 6-10 Office agents. This is especially true during “sensitive” dates or events. Meanwhile, the majority of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners living outside of China continue to be barred from returning to their homeland. Thus they are rarely able to visit family in mainland China, including elderly parents on their deathbeds.
Denial or revocation of travel documents in 2009
Throughout 2009, the Falun Dafa Information Center received several reports of Falun Gong adherents in China reporting that they had their passports revoked by security agents, were imprisoned for seeking to obtain a passport, or even that their family members were denied travel documents to leave China due to the family’s Falun Gong affiliations.
The following are two such examples of individuals being denied freedom of movement in 2009:
Mr. Li Delong was a 49-year-old practitioner from Laixi in Shandong province who worked for the Laixi City Administration Bureau for Industry and Commerce. He was first imprisoned in 2000 after traveling to Beijing to appeal against the banning of Falun Gong. Security agents reportedly beat him severely. He was abducted again on August 20, 2006, during which time he was interrogated and abused by security forces. Over the next three years, Mr. Li was monitored and harassed by authorities for his faith in Falun Gong. His health deteriorated when he experienced a relapse of hepatitis—an ailment from which he had previously found relief through practicing Falun Gong.
For several years, Mr. Li had been trying to obtain a passport to escape persecution in China, but his applications were consistently denied. The last time he applied for travel documents was in the fall of 2009, and the application was again rejected. On November 29, 2009, Mr. Li passed away.
Ms. Zhang Zhiyun is a 66-year-old Shanghai resident who, prior to the persecution, was among the city’s main volunteers for teaching and assisting in the coordination of activities within the local Falun Gong community. Because she is viewed by authorities as a Falun Gong “leader,” Ms. Zhang has been a target of consistent monitoring by 6-10 Office agents.
The 6-10 Office agents also sought to exert pressure on her family members who did not practice Falun Gong. Her husband, a senior technician, lost his job because his wife was known to practice Falun Gong. Her son’s noodle shop was also closed without explanation when the campaign against Falun Gong began in 1999. In 2008, he was able to obtain a passport and travel documents to participate in a competition overseas, but he was dragged off the plane before departure and detained.
In 2008, Ms. Zhang’s daughter was planning a wedding in Australia. Ms. Zhang sought a passport to attend the wedding, but the application was rejected. In November of the same year, she again sought a passport to attend her daughter’s graduation ceremony, but was denied. In 2009, she went to the Public Security Bureau in her area to seek a passport and was once again denied.
Immediately after her visit to the Public Security Bureau office, Ms. Zhang fell violently ill. She was taken to a hospital, and her condition began to improve. Her health took a sudden turn for the worse again immediately following a visit to the hospital staff by 6-10 Office agents, and she passed away the next day, on May 14, 2009. Some friends and relatives suspect that she may have been poisoned or otherwise harmed during her last interactions with Public Security Bureau and 6-10 Office representatives, but this has not been confirmed.