One Thousand Chinese Citizens Apply for UN Refugee Status

August 31, 2009 7:30 pm Last Updated: September 2, 2009 8:19 am

Nearly a thousand Chinese  have signed a letter applying for UN refugee status, just months before the 60th anniversary of communist rule in China on Oct. 1.

The initiator of the petition, human rights activist Wang Chengming from Sichuan Province, said that two days after he started it nearly 1000 people from all walks of life around the country had responded.

“With so many people applying for refugee status or political asylum, it's not possible for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to approve all of them,” he said. “However, this is not the real purpose of this action.”

Through his petition, called “The Great Escape of Chinese Citizens” Wang aims instead to embarrass the ruling party.

“Let  the authorities be aware that if they keep treating people like this, 50 percent of Chinese people will eventually apply to be international refugees. Although it's impossible to get approval for everyone, the world will still ponder, ‘why would Chinese people escape, even to poorer countries?’” he said.

Wang used to operate a restaurant in Beijing that was frequented by democracy activists who had traveled to the capital. He was forced to close it recently, however, after continued pressure from the authorities.

Another dissident, Guo Yongfeng from Shenzhen, also published an online statement, appearing on the dissident website on Aug.  27. He asked the UNHCR to launch an emergency investigation, and for he and his 14-year-old  daughter to be granted refugee status. He said the Chinese authorities had been intimidating and threatening him for his work, and had recently even attempted to assassinate him. He had founded the Chinese Society of Citizens Supervising Political Affairs.

Read the original Chinese article.