China Bars Returning Activists

They spoke up for greater freedoms in China and then traveled abroad. Now they can’t get home.
2009-11-04
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fengzhenghu303.jpg
Shanghai-based human rights activist Feng Zhenghu.
Photo appears courtesy of The Epoch Times Network

HONG KONG—Chinese border authorities have refused re-entry to several Chinese rights activists in recent weeks, though all hold valid Chinese passports, the activists said.

Shanghai-based activist Feng Zhenghu traveled to Japan on April 1 for medical treatment, but was denied entry back into China, which deported him to Japan on June 7, he said.

Three subsequent attempts at re-entry also failed, he said, most recently on July 31.

He was also barred from boarding Shanghai-bound aircraft from Japan on four occasions after airport security staff told the airlines he was barred from China.

Feng, who has advocated for petitioners in recent years, has filed several lawsuits against Air China International and Northwest Airlines.

“I wrote to the judge for my lawsuit and informed him of my decision to return again. I wish he himself would go to the airport to see how I will be denied entry. The border police didn’t allow me to return but gave me no explanation or document,” Feng said in an interview.

More activists barred


He said he plans to try again this week. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said he has filed a lawsuit against the border control authorities in Shanghai’s Pudong airport.

“I know people in the past suing the government for not allowing them to go abroad, but never heard of any lawsuit for the right to return. As far as I know, no such case has been filed before,” Mo said.
 
“If the airport authorities bar the entry of a Chinese citizen, they have to present a formal written notice detailing the legal basis for their action. But up until now, Feng Zhenghu never received any formal document to explain why he cannot return. Thus this banning is not a just and legal action,” Mo said.

Shanghai-based dissident writer Li Jianhong said she was twice barred in October from returning to China through Shenzhen, the southern China business center bordering Hong Kong. She also has a valid Chinese passport.

Li, also known by her pen name Xiao Qiao, is a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, has written extensively on freedom of expression, and was an early signer of the Charter 08 manifesto, in which Chinese intellectuals called for greater freedom.
  
After she was stopped the second time on Oct. 16, police confiscated her computer discs, she said.

“I protested angrily and said ‘If you don’t return that stuff to me, I’m not leaving,. After several hours a man who appeared to be a supervisor came to me and said, ‘We’re returning your things to you, and are sending you back to Hong Kong now.’”

Separately, Liu Jiayi was turned back Oct. 29 by airport authorities in Beijing who confiscated her pass to return to China.

Liu is a Hong Kong resident and a member of the Hong Kong branch of the Tiananmen Mothers, which comprises parents of those killed in the June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on and around Tiananmen Square.

Beijing-based dissident Jiang Qisheng, a 1989 dissident who also signed on to Charter 08,  said he had applied unsuccessfully for a pass to visit Hong Kong.

“Now they took away a pass to visit mainland China from a member of the Tiananmen Mothers. All this shows is that they’re still holding the same, wrong-headed views of the Tiananmen crackdown.”

Jiang was jailed from September 1989 to February 1991, and again from 1999-2003 after he continued to speak out in favor of expanded freedoms in China.

Reported by Xin Yu, Ding Xiao and Qiao Long. Translated by Ping Chen. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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