Scores of Chinese who are studying and working abroad are unable to return to China, either to live or visit their families. They have had their passports canceled or an extension denied by Chinese consulates. Many are Falun Gong practitioners, others are political dissidents, and all are targeted for their activism.
This has created an international refugee situation. Chinese officials at various consulates around the world have refused to give a reason or legal basis for their actions.
Dr. Sun Lijie , a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, applied for an extension of her passport on Oct. 19, 2007 at the Chinese Consulate General in New York. She was told she could pick up her passport in one week.
On the afternoon of Oct. 26, Dr. Sun received a call from the Consulate by a man identifying himself as Consul Zhou.
Consul Zhou asked if she had ever practiced Falun Gong.
“What does Falun Gong have to do with passport extensions?” Dr. Sun asked Zhou.
“There is a connection,” the Consul said.
Dr. Sun told him that she had practiced Falun Gong because it was good for her health, and that she was still practicing. She also said that being in the United States, she should have the freedom to do so.
Consul Zhou then said that her passport extension was not completed. There was a technical problem, and it needed to be sent to China, it might take two to three months.
More than a year later, Dr. Sun’s passport extension was still not approved. Repeated calls to the Consulate were fruitless. She was told there was no “Consul Zhou,” and her application was being reviewed–to please keep waiting.
In 2008, Dr. Sun’s father in China had a medical emergency and subsequently passed away, but she could not visit or attend the funeral because of her passport having expired, she said.
Dr. Wang Wenyi, a pathologist by training, and a Falun Gong practitioner and staff member of the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times, says she knows of at least 100 overseas Chinese Falun Gong practitioners who have had their passports canceled or not extended.
Dr. Wang’s own passport was also cancelled by the Chinese Consulate. In 2005, when her father died, she tried to apply for a new one, but was denied.
In December 2004, Dr. Yang Sen, a Falun Gong practitioner in Chicago, applied to get his passport extended. He was told by Chicago Chinese Consulate official Consul Zhou [a different Consul Zhou] that his passport could not be extended. When Yang asked for a reason, the Consul said, “There is no reason.”
Dr. Yang said, “Let me be frank, I think it’s because I practice Falun Gong.”
The Consul then said it was a decision made by his supervisors; he was “only following orders.”
Sun Dakun, a Falun Gong practitioner living in Houston, had a similar experience. “Quite a few times, I called the [Houston] Consulate asking if they would show me reasons in writing why they kept my passport. They did not have a direct answer and tried to avoid the question. I sensed that they also knew they did not have any legal basis. Maybe they also knew what they were doing was not right and was in violation of the law,” Sun said.
The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
The Chinese regime uses rejection of passport extensions as a way to control its citizens, some of the victims said. They say Chinese citizens overseas sometimes are made to choose between their conscience and their family in China.
Hu Ping, Editor-in-Chief of Beijing Spring magazine and renowned political commentator in exile, has not been able to visit China for more than 20 years. Even when his mother passed away, he was not allowed to go to China.
“[The Chinese regime] retaliates by prohibiting you from visiting your family. This is despicable,” Hu told New Tang Dynasty Television . “Many Chinese people are worried they will be deprived of the right to visit China and to see their families. As a result, they are very careful when voicing dissenting opinions, even overseas. Sometimes they are forced to keep silent. This is what the Communist Party wants,” Hu said.
In March 2008, renowned democracy advocate Wang Dan, along with 15 other Chinese dissidents in exile, published an open letter urging Beijing to extend or renew their Chinese passports. They also called for the prosecution of the Chinese officials who have deprived them of their rights.
Read the original Chinese article.