Human Rights in China strongly protests the detention and deportation of Xiaorong Li by China's Ministry of Public Security.
On April 3, 1998, Ms. Li, who is a U.S. citizen, entered China with a valid visa issued by the Ministry of Public Security's Exit and Entry Processing Division. Less than an hour after she arrived at her parents' home in a small town in southwest Sichuan, local police took her into custody and drove her overnight to Chengdu, the provincial capital. At the Chengdu Municipal Public Security Bureau, ignoring her repeated demands to be told the reason for her detention and to be permitted to telephone the U.S. Consulate, around 5:00am on April 4 a group of about 10 security personnel dressed in plain clothes began searching her luggage and interrogating her. The chief interrogator repeatedly accused her of violating Chinese law, but then ignored her requests to be informed of which law she had infringed. All the chief interrogator would say was that according to an order from the Ministry of Public Security, she belonged to a list of people banned from entering the country. However, he did not show her any written document containing this order. She was then put on a plane from Chengdu to Hong Kong on the morning of April 4.
Ms. Li is a research scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. She has been the Vice Chair of Human Rights in China since 1992. Both her activist and academic work have focussed primarily on human rights in the People's Republic of China.
Upon requests from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and its Consulate in Chengdu asking about the whereabouts of Ms. Li, who became a U.S. citizen in 1996, the Sichuan Public Security Bureau replied that Ms. Li "entered the country to engage activities against the state" and had been "sent out of the country."
This is the latest in a series of acts of intimidation of and refusing entry to activists and academics who are critical of the policies of the Chinese authorities. For example, last month, Columbia University Professor Andrew Nathan, who is on the boards of directors of Human Rights in China and Human Rights Watch, was denied a visa to attend a conference in Shanghai.
Human Rights in China condemns such actions and urges the Chinese government to eliminate its practice of blacklisting those who have engaged in peaceful advocacy for human rights and democracy, whether Chinese or foreign nationals. Such bans, intended to silence the overseas critics of the Chinese authorities, are a violation of international standards on freedom of movement. Human Rights in China also condemns the arbitrary detention of Ms. Li, who was never informed of any charges against her or the legal basis for her detention and deportation, as well as the fact that she was deprived of the right to appeal against her deportation. Both of these acts are clear violations of international norms. Preventing Ms. Li from returning home to visit her family and her home town demonstrates a lack of respect for basic humanitarian principles.