Israeli Minister of the Interior Gideon Sa’ar has delayed the deportation of a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner, allowing her time to appeal to the courts or seek asylum in another country.
Wang Li was due to be deported back to China on May 14, based on claims that she is not a true adherent of the spiritual discipline, and that her life will not be endangered if sent back. She now has until May 19 to appeal or leave the country.
Wang says that she is a true practitioner of Falun Gong, and peers can attest to the fact that she has taken part in protests outside the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv. The latter activity likely makes her vulnerable to persecution if she returns to China, where the Chinese Communist Party has severely persecuted Falun Gong since 1999.
Several members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and head of the Jewish Agancy for Israel, Natan Sharansky, who was once a prisoner in a Soviet gulag, lobbied to postpone the deportation.
Three weeks earlier, the Falun Gong practitioner Lizhi He provided testimony of extreme torture suffered in China to the first session of the Israeli Knesset Member's Liberal Lobby, a coalition of members who discuss and try to change policy.
Lizhi He, who now lives in Canada, spent over an hour describing the severe hardship he went through during three and a half years at a Chinese forced labor camp.
Rights groups believe that thousands of practitioners have been imprisoned, and tortured, with many deaths from abuse, including from live organ harvesting, as documented by doctors and lawyers in the international community.
Wang Li began practicing Falun Gong in China in 2005, but fled to Egypt after a friend was arrested, crossing the border to Israel in 2006. She handed out information about the practice and took part in protests in front of the Chinese embassy.
In July 2006, Wang’s application for asylum was denied, leading to an appeal that made it all the way to Israel’s Supreme Court. According to her lawyer, Wang’s appeal was rejected due to insufficient knowledge of the practice during two interviews held in 2008 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Roy Bar-Ilan, spokesman for the Israeli Falun Dafa Information Center, commented: “Can we imagine a country that would send a Jew back to Nazi Germany, just because he does not keep a certain commandment? Once someone identifies himself as a Falun Gong practitioner, his life is in danger, and it is very possible that when back in China this person will be sent to a labor camp, be tortured or even murdered, like thousands of Falun Gong practitioners since 1999.”
A similar situation took place in Germany in 2005, when a practitioner called Jiang Ren Jang was deported with his wife and two children. The family was harassed by police, and Jiang was sent to a forced labor camp for three and a half years.
In 2009, after hearing about the deportations of Falun Gong seeking asylum, Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament, said he wanted to ensure that practitioners will not be sent back to China, where they are likely to be persecuted and tortured.
U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) supported McMillan-Scott’s pledge, and sent an urgent letter to then-president of South Korea Lee Myung-Bak, stating, “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.”