Two US Congressmen Urge S. Korea to Stop Falun Gong Deportations

Two US Congressmen Urge S. Korea to Stop Falun Gong Deportations

By Gary
Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff
Created: Sep 17, 2011 Last
Updated:
Sep 17, 2011

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Demonstrators outside the Chinese embassy in Washington,
D.C. on Sep. 15 call upon the South Korean government to cease its deportations
of Falun Gong practitioners to
China where they face being imprisoned, tortured and even death. They said it is
against international law to repatriaterefugees who will face persecution in
China. (Lisa Fan/Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—On Sept. 6, Seoul
immigration authorities, accompanied by local police, forced their way into the
home of two Falun Gong practitioners of Chinese nationality, 26-year-old Mr. Jin
and his wife Ms. Ma. They arrested the couple
for lacking legal status after their applications for asylum had been denied.

Jin is being held in the Foreigners Protection Detention Center of
Hwaseong Fortress for immigrants, where he faces imminent expulsion back to
China. His wife is out of custody but also
faces danger of repatriation to China.

A rally was held in front of the
South Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., at midday on Sept. 15 to urge
President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea (ROK) not to deport Falun Gong
practitioners to China, and to find a way to permit Falun Gong refugees to remain in South Korea.

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If repatriated to China, Falun Gong practitioners face the likelihood of
imprisonment, torture and sometimes death. Practitioners of Falun Gong, a
spiritual practice that involves doing meditative exercises and studying moral
teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,
have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July
1999.

Since 2009, South Korea has sent at least 10 Falun Gong refugees
back to China, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center
(FDIC). Currently, 56 Falun Gong adherents residing in Korea have also been
denied asylum, and consequently risk being repatriated.

“If sent back,
their lives will be at grave risk because the Beijing dictatorship has declared
its intention to utterly destroy the Falun Gong movement,” said California
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in a letter sent to President Lee on Sept.
15. Rep. Rohrabacher is senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations.

Rohrabacher’s letter called on the Seoul government to
halt any deportations of Falun Gong members to communist China.

Legal Obligations

“No one anywhere—regardless of their social, economic or political status—has
the right to torture another human being, either with their own hands, or
indirectly by sending human beings into those hands. Indeed, torture is immoral
and unacceptable in nations that embrace civilized behavior and the rule of
law,” said California Congressman John Garamendi, in a statement read at the
Washington rally.

Rep. Garamendi’s moral argument is strengthened by
South Korea’s legal obligations. It is a signatory of the UN Convention Against
Torture, whose Article 3 says in part, “No State Party shall expel, return
(‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial
grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to
torture..

Garamendi pointed out in his statement that South Korea is
committed not to deport “refugees, who, like the Falun Gong, are fleeing
religious persecution,” because it was a signatory of the United Nations Refugee
Convention in 1951.

“I urge [ROK] Ambassador Han and President Lee to
immediately reaffirm the commitment it made 60 years ago, and to take the first
step toward restitution by granting amnesty to Shen Xianzhi and Jin,” said
Congressman Garamendi. Shen Xianzhi was reported by FDIC to be a Falun Gong
practitioner who is also detained at an immigrant detention center facing
potential deportation.

Pressure from Chinese Regime

The Korean Falun Dafa Association (KFDA) has in the past stated that the
deportations from South Korea to China are due to their government bending to
pressure from the Chinese regime.

Three Falun Gong practitioners of Korean ethnicity appeal
to the South Korean ambassador to intervene to stop more deportations of Falun
Gongrefugees. The protest occurred on Sep. 15 in Washington, D.C. (Lisa Fan/
Epoch Times)

A KDFA statement, released on Jan. 24 and issued
following the sudden deportation of three Falun Gong practitioners to China,
links the South Korean policy of deportation to visits by two Chinese officials.

In March 2005 Zhou Yongkang, head of China’s security apparatus and a leading figure in the persecution of Falun Gong, met with
the South Korean Minister of Justice. Shortly afterwards the Ministry rejected
32 Falun Gong refugee applications.

After that meeting, Chinese agents began showing up in court hearings,
and Chinese media started publishing distorted stories about the applications,
according to the KFDA statement

The latest round of deportations followed
the visit of Li Changchun, propaganda chief and a member of the Politburo
Standing Committee, to South Korea in spring 2009.

He is reported to
have made clear that the Korean government should “kick Falun Gong practitioners
out of South Korea,” according to the KFDA statement.

Soon after South
Korea is said to have started quickly rejecting practitioners’ appeals for
asylum and several deportations followed.

In response to these actions by
South Korea 23 U.S. Congressmen sent a letter dated Aug. 14, 2009, in which they
urged South Korea “not to deport Falun Gong practitioners to China.” It referred
to Falun Gong practitioners as “among the most brutally persecuted groups in the
world today.”

“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,” according to the
FDIC website.

FDIC can confirm over 3,400 Falun Gong practitioners have
died in China due to torture and abuse, but indicates the real death toll is
likely in the tens of thousands.

US–South Korea Alliance

The rally was hosted by Falun Gong practitioner Frank Lee. He said that
President Lee (not related) is scheduled to receive the 2011 World Statesman
Award next week in New York for his “dedication to world peace and democracy.”
The reward is presented by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation that has worked on behalf of religious freedom,
human rights, and tolerance throughout the world.

“We urge President Lee
to be truly worthy of this award and stop deporting Falun Gong practitioners to
face persecution in China,” said Lee.

In his letter, Congressman
Rohrabacher reminds the Republic of Korea (ROK) of the support the U.S. provided
recently in response to North Korean hostilities in the Yellow Sea.

“The U.S.-ROK alliance is built on opposition to
Communist oppression and aggression, whether from Pyongyang or Beijing. The
Falun Gong should be seen as friends to our shared values,” he says.

Noting that President Lee will be coming to Washington, DC in October
for an official state visit, Rep. Rohrabacher expressed the hope that no
deportations will take place. We wouldn’t want to see illegal and immoral
deportations “casting a shadow over the ROK leader’s visit,” he said.

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