S. Korea Asked to Stop Repatriations to China

New York City, USA - New Yorkers appealed outside the Korean Consulate on Wednesday to call for an immediate stop to deportations of Falun Gong practitioners from South Korea to China, including a young Chinese couple who face imminent return to danger.

More than 70 people gathered with posters and signs in response to the Sept. 6 arrest of Falun Gong asylum seekers Jin Jingzhe and Ma Yue in South Korea. Several met with Assistant Consul Kying Ryun Park to inform him of the latest development and deliver a letter.

“The Korean government must stop it immediately,” said Seog One Ha, 28, a Korean citizen studying at Columbia University. “It is related to a person’s life. A person’s life is prior to any terms or laws.”

Ha delivered a letter to the consul on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners in metropolitan New York. Park assured Ha that the message would be delivered up the ranks at the consulate.

According to the Korea Falun Dafa Association, 100 Falun Gong practitioners have been denied refugee asylum in South Korea and face deportation. The deportation of Falun Gong practitioners is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and the Convention Against Torture. South Korea signed both treaties.

According to the letter addressed to the consul, Falun Gong practitioners risk imprisonment, brutal torture, and death if they are sent back to China.

“Sending Falun Gong refugees back to China is inhumane, unjust, and contrary to international law,” said a statement from Levi Browde, executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. “We urge the South Korean government to resist any pressure coming from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and offer Falun Gong practitioners a safe haven from persecution.”

The Falun Dafa Information Center has documented thousands of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in China since the CCP began waging a nationwide campaign of propaganda, imprisonment, and torture in 1999. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese practice of meditation, gentle exercises, and application of the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in daily life.

Young Couple on the Brink

A team from the Korean Ministry of Justice went to the Seoul home of Jin Jingzhe, 26, and his wife, Ma Yue, on Sept. 6. The couple was arrested on the grounds that they were illegal immigrants. Jin was taken to a “foreigner’s protection detention center.” Employees at the center informed Jin that he has seven days to write an appeal before being deported.

“South Korea has stated that it wants to defend the rights of North Korean refugees abroad—to not be deported back to North Korea—because they understand that the situation in North Korea is that the refugees that are sent to North Korea would be subject to torture and maybe even death and execution,” said an American Falun Gong practitioner who attended the appeal. “It’s very hypocritical of them to turn around and [deport] Falun Gong practitioners.”

Korean President Lee Myung-bak is scheduled to visit New York City Sept. 20–22. The president will attend an Appeal of Conscience Foundation ceremony to receive an award for his democracy and humanitarian efforts. Myung-bak will also meet with United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, who is well-known for his work on human rights.

“It’s very ironic,” said Woo Kim, 19, a dual citizen of the United States and Korea. “I have heard of other practitioners being deported to China—there’s been 10 people so far. It’s not really surprising to me because I know how active the Chinese Communist Party spies are in South Korea.”

Jin, who has less than two days left before being deported, actively participated in peaceful Falun Gong protests in South Korea, exposing the persecution of the practice by the Chinese Communist Party. Jin also worked for New Tang Dynasty Television and covered stories sensitive to the political regime in China.

The consulate general of the Republic of Korea did not return calls by press deadline.