United States: Falun Gong Practitioners Protest Russia Deportation of U.N. Refugees in New York

On the afternoon of March 29th, 2007, Falun Gong practitioners gathered in front of the Russian Delegation Office in the United Nations and the Russian Consulate in New York to protest the Russian government's violation of international human right conventions and the secretive and forcible deportation of United Nations refugees Ms. Ma Hui and her daughter. Falun Gong practitioners called for the Russian government to observe the international human right conventions and Russian laws to safeguard the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners in Russia.

Several Falun Gong practitioners held posters in English and Russian in front of the Russian Delegation Office and the Russian Consulate. They also distributed flyers to passersby.

Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Ma Hui and her 8-year-old daughter, Ma Jingjing, both recognised as U.N. Refugees, were seized on Tuesday, March 28th, by Russian Immigration officers at their St. Petersburg residence and forcibly put on a plane to China by a Russian policewoman and a man related to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Ma Hui and her daughter were put on flight FV215, Polkova Airlines, departing from St. Petersburg at 7:50 p.m. Moscow time that same day. A representative of the UNHCR and Ms. Ma's husband went to the airport and asked the Immigration Office to allow them to visit the mother and the child. The immigration officials and police refused to divulge their whereabouts. According to verification by phone, Ms. Ma and her daughter did arrive in Beijing. Ma Jingjing is now with a relative, and Ms. Ma Hui is being detained. Her location is still unknown.

Ms. Ma and her daughter have been recognised as legitimate refugees by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Russia the past three years. However, the Russian Immigration Bureau would not recognise Falun Gong refugees or grant her residency. Ms. Ma has been petitioning this. They were awaiting a March 30th court date regarding its renewal. Residency is legitimate for U.N. refugees during litigation by Russian law. Ma Hui's lawyer said it was illegal to deport those involved in lawsuits before a trial. A representative of the Red Cross said it was in violation of European Human Right Convention and the non-refoulement prohibitions of the Convention Against Torture. In addition, it is customary to notify the Red Cross and the lawyer as well as obtain a family members signature prior to deportation.

Falun Gong practitioner in New York Lidiya Talaizadeh said she was very worried about Ma Hui's safety. She came into contact with Ms. Ma and her family when she went to Russia last year. Ma Hui is very out-going and optimistic. Her daughter, Ma Jingjing, is quiet and shy. They were deported to Beijing, where Falun Gong practitioners are cruelly persecuted. Ma Hui's situation is very worrisome.

Lidiya said the true manipulator of this incident was the CCP. The incident is an example of the extension of the CCP's persecution overseas. China and Russia are very close. Using economic interest as bait, the CCP has forced Russia into the crime of persecution. The Russian government has brought misfortune to the Russian people and hurt Russia's international image by bending to the pressure of the CCP and violating the International Human Rights Convention.

Another Falun Gong practitioner, Mr. Sun Lezhi, also from Russia, said it was very inhuman conduct of the Russian government. He hoped the Russian government would think of the future of the nation and would not assist in such crimes for the sake of economic interests. Several Chinese Falun Gong practitioners besides Ma Hui have been illegally denied residency even though they had work permits.

Falun Gong practitioners in the Greater New York Area have sent faxes and emails and made phone calls to the Russian Delegation at the United Nations and to the Russian Consulate. The Delegation told Lidiya that they had received a lot of correspondence regarding this incident. The Russian government has done many things illegally. The Delegation refused to meet with Falun Gong practitioners. The Russian Consulate returned phone calls and said they had given the correspondence to the Russian government and had received the petition letter written in Russian by Falun Gong practitioners Jacob Wallenberg and Kim Eng. The letter expressed Falun Gong practitioners' deep concerns.

Lidiya said Falun Gong practitioners in the Greater New York Area would continue their protest tomorrow. They hoped the Russian government would immediately stop assisting with the persecution of Falun Gong and avoid being buried with the CCP.

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