Urgent Appeal: South Korea Must Cease Deporting Falun Gong Practitioners to China

Young couple facing imminent deportation, 50 other Falun Gong asylum seekers at risk

NEW YORK—The South Korean government must immediately take measures to ensure that no Falun Gong refugees be deported back to China, the Falun Dafa Information Center said Monday. Last week, immigration officials detained a 25-year-old Falun Gong practitioner and are holding him in detention for possible repatriation at any moment. Should he be deported, he faces serious risk of imprisonment, torture, or even death.

“Sending Falun Gong refugees back to China is inhumane, unjust, and contrary to international law.” says Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. “We urge the South Korean government to resist any pressure coming from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and offer Falun Gong practitioners a safe haven from persecution.”

“We know in the past that the South Korean government has allowed Falun Gong practitioners to safely stay in South Korea even without official asylum status, and we urge them to resume this practice.”

On September 6, 2011, two Ministry of Justice officers and four local police went to the home of 25-year-old Mr. Jin Jingzhe and his wife Ms. Ma Yue. They arrested the couple on the grounds of their illegal immigration status after their applications for asylum had been denied. Mr. Jin was then taken to the “foreigners protection detention center,” where staff told him that he had seven days to write an appeal application explaining why he should not be repatriated. Ms. Ma remains outside of custody. According to one source, in addition to Jin, another Falun Gong practitioner, Shen Xianzhi, also remains at an immigrant detention center facing potential deportation.

Since 2009, South Korea has sent at least 10 Falun Gong refugees back to China, indicating the danger facing the couple. At present, an additional 56 Falun Gong students residing in Korea have been denied asylum. If detained by police, they too risk deportation to Mainland China. 

The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling on the government of the Republic of Korea to honor its commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and the Convention Against Torture. South Korea is a signatory to both treaties, which prohibit returning refugees to countries where they would be subjected to torture or persecution on account of their religion or membership of a particular social group.

Falun Gong practitioners, regardless of their profile or prominence within the Falun Gong community, all face the possibility of arbitrary detention, extra-legal sentencing, and torture in China. Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are believed to be detained in China for their beliefs; in some detention facilities, they comprise the majority population. The United Nations, Amnesty International, Chinese human rights lawyers, and Western media have documented Falun Gong torture and deaths at the hands of Chinese officials. In its annual report released in early 2011, Amnesty International stated that Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce their beliefs “are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release.”

The Falun Dafa Information Center therefore calls on:

  • The South Korean government to immediately halt all deportations of Falun Gong practitioners to China and take measures to grant them asylum.
  • The South Korean National Human Rights Commission to investigate and respond accordingly to previous cases of Falun Gong repatriations.
  • The international community, including human rights groups, foreign government officials, and concerned citizens, to immediately contact representatives of the South Korean government and urge them to protect Falun Gong refugees.

Additional information

Mr. Jin first learned Falun Gong in China with his mother when he was in elementary school. After the Communist Party launched the campaign to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, Jin was forced to drop out of high school and his mother was held at a Beijing labor camp. In 2008, Jin arrived in Korea Korea, where he has been an active member of the Falun Gong community.

Among other activities, he has worked as a reporter for the independent station New Tang Dynasty Television, covering various stories considered politically sensitive by the CCP. These included local Falun Gong practitioners’ appeals for an end to human rights abuses in China and stories related to North Korea.  

In recent years, 23 members of the U.S. Congress have written to the government of the Republic of Korea seeking their help in protecting Falun Gong practitioners on humanitarian grounds, but the repatriations have continued. Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament, wrote on September 9 to the South Korean Ambassador in the United Kingdom, voicing his concern for the couple and requesting assurance that Korea would fulfill its international obligations to asylum seekers.