Ottawa Citizen (Canada): Don't deport Falun Gong supporter: protesters: Montreal woman faces torture in China, group says

August 7, 2005 Sunday

Protesters gathered in Ottawa yesterday in an urgent bid to halt the deportation of a Montreal woman who they say faces detention and possible torture in China because of her association with the Falun Gong.

Xiaoping Hu, who has lived in Montreal for two years, lost her final bid for refugee status when her deportation was ordered by a federal courts Aug. 3.

Michael Bergman, the Montreal human rights lawyer who represented Ms. Hu, 54, at that hearing, said she flew from Montreal to Vancouver on Friday, enroute to China.

Officials from the Ministry of Public Safety office would not say whether Ms. Hu had left the country, he said.

"They won't tell us where she's at," Mr. Bergman said from Montreal.

Despite the uncertainty, a group of about 20 protesters gathered in front of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Anne McLellan's office yesterday to push for a last-minute halt to Ms. Hu's deportation.

They called on Ms. McLellan and Joe Volpe, the minister of Citizen and Immigration, to use their political will to halt Ms. Hu's deportation on humanitarian grounds.

"The kind of risk she is facing, there's no need to send her back," said Lucy Zhou, one of about 20 protesters who gathered in front of Ms. McLellan's office on Laurier Street.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people in detention (in China) and she could be one of them."

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that was outlawed in China in 1999. The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China has been decried by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and several other human rights organizations.

Ms. Hu came to Canada in Aug. 2003 to visit her dying sister, who died of cancer two months later. Ms. Hu remained in Montreal, where she renewed her practice of Falun Gong.

In January 2004, Ms. Hu applied for refugee status as a Falun Gong practitioner subject to persecution in China. Her application was denied, and her final appeal was rejected earlier this week.

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