Friends of Falun Gong USA has been working to bring UN refugee Mr. Wenbo Zou to safety. Wenbo has UN refugee status due to being persecuted in China for practising Falun Gong, and he currently lives in Thailand. In Thailand Wenbo is under constant threat of being kidnapped and brought back to China to be persecuted further. Learn about who he is, what he does, and FoFG's efforts on his behalf.
February 12, 2003, 12:00 am
"Alan, please help me let the newspapers know the Chinese police [are] planning to kidnap a Falun Gong U.N. refugee to China"
-- fax from Wenbo Zou to Alan Adler, Executive Director of FoFG 2:30 am February 8, 2003.
Wenbo Zou is not a new name to Friends of Falun Gong. It was in October 2002 that the Executive Director of Friends of Falun Gong USA, Alan Adler, met Wenbo for the first time in Thailand.
A humble and endearing man who has practised Falun Gong for 7 years, Wenbo is a 35-year-old Chinese national who was granted UN refugee status in July 2002 and has been living in Thailand for approximately 10 months.
After experiencing the horrors of a Chinese labour camp, Wenbo has cherished the freedom of living in Thailand. We regret to report, however, that Wenbo's "freedom" has expired as of February 5, 2003, and he is in grave danger.
Wenbo went to Thailand with one wish, to expose the horrific truth about the persecution carried out against Falun Gong by the Chinese government to the thousands of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand each day.
In November 2002, Wenbo approached Friends of Falun Gong via e-mail with one request:
"Alan, last time you told me that you could help us if we need help. Now we need a good quality DVD player as it is a very strong impact on Chinese Tourists. About 70% Chinese tourists fear to take the flyers, but they want to know Falun Gong. So DVD video is very important."
Wenbo knew that educating the Chinese public about the persecution taking place in their country is an effective way to bring about change in China, from the bottom up. So a Friends of Falun Gong supporter graciously donated the funds to fill his request, and Wenbo finally purchased a DVD player and speakers. It was hard for him to contain his excitement when he e-mailed Alan Adler on November 8, 2002:
"We find the Port is very good place. About 95% Chinese tourists will come Pattaya, and 90% of them will come here. They will stop here about 30 mins to wait for ship. It is a very good chance to face-to-face clarify the truth. From 6pm to 10pm about 1000 Chinese come here everyday. 2,700 came here on 3 OCT. The manager of the place told me 3,300 came here everyday last Chinese Spring New-year. This DVD player is your support. Thank you again."
It wasn't long after Wenbo began his quest to disclose the facts of the persecution to his fellow countrymen that the Chinese Embassy in Thailand became aware of his endeavours. Wenbo repeatedly emailed Friends of Falun Gong recounting the latest threats he received from persons apparently associated with the Chinese Embassy and others. In one e-mail Wenbo informed Alan of a run-in with a not-so-pleasant tour guide from China:
"More 1,700 Chinese Tourists came the port on 19 Nov. I played VCD to them. About 9pm the worst guide came here, who always swears word, act dirty to lady Falun Gong practitioners that are with me and threaten us: 'Kill you'. He closed the player cover and hit my head. I reported to police."
For quite some time Wenbo reported to us that the Thai police were fairly supportive, and that he had no reason to fear for his safety in Thailand. Sadly, it wasn't long before the tentacles of the Chinese government seemed to wrap around the police, apparently because of pressure on the Thai government.
On December 5th, Wenbo first hinted to Friends of Falun Gong that his safety was in danger:
"I went back Bangkok yesterday as [name removed] called me... His police friend told him that I had big trouble and asked me go to Bangkok. He said they plan to kidnap me. I need you help now."
It seems that Wenbo's visa to stay in Thailand was nearing expiration. On January 29th, Alan Adler received a heartbreaking e-mail from Wenbo:
"We went to Thai immigration this morning, they gave me 7 days visa and asked me must leave Thailand before 5 Feb 2003. They told us that the Foreign Affairs sent the order to them, they must carry out. We went to UNHCR (United Nations High Commission of Refugees) office in Thailand at once and asked them help. But UNHCR officer told me that they can do nothing because Thai Government has not signed UN Refugee Agreement."
Immediately upon receiving this notice, Alan Adler and the Friends of Falun Gong administration teams in Canada and the United States began to marshal all resources to devise a plan to bring Wenbo to safety. What looked like a promising lead with Canada has been delayed apparently because the UNHCR in Thailand has not sent the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok Wenbo's file, despite their request. Without a visa and paperwork to go to another safe country Wenbo cannot leave Thailand, so he is, in a sense, trapped.
At this time, Wenbo is feared to be in grave danger. February 8, 2003 proved to be his most chilling communication to us thus far:
"Chinese police came here already, they look for me now.
Thai people cannot help me. Please let newspapers know chinese police arrest UN refugee in Thailand now.
Thank you very much
The Friends of Falun Gong USA team is committed to giving Wenbo, and others, the support and resources they need for finding refuge when in danger. We will continue to use all means available to us. We hope our next e-mail from Wenbo will be his thanking us for helping him reach safety.
Our hearts are with you, Wenbo.
~ Friends of Falun Gong USA
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