Reuters, Aug. 20, 2002
GENEVA, Aug. 20 — The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday said it had protested to Cambodia for deporting two Chinese Falun Gong practitoners, whom the agency said could face persecution at home.
Kris Janowski, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also said it had raised the case of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who disappeared from Cambodia in July and was also feared to have been deported home.
”All three people are deemed by UNHCR to be in need of international protection,” Janowski told a news briefing. ”Under international law, such persons are to be safeguarded from being sent back to their country of origin.”
Li Guojun and his wife Zhang Xinyi, two followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China, were arrested in Phnom Penh on August 2, according to the UNHCR which failed to get access to the detainees.
Asked if they had been deported to China, Janowski said that appeared to be the case.
”Cambodia has ultimate responsibility for the safety and security of these people, making sure they are not shipped back to a place where they could face persecution,” he added.
Thich Tri Luc, a Buddhist monk who carried a UNHCR card recognising him as a refugee, was feared deported to Vietnam.
The Geneva-based agency upholds the U.N. Refugee Convention guaranteeing protection of a refugees and asylum seekers who have a ”well-founded fear of persecution.” Cambodia has signed the 1951 pact.