China: Authorities try to confiscate dissident's passport after friend flees


Date:                      June 13, 2018


Brynne Lawrence

Zhao Fengsheng (left) with his family.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Yongzhou, Hunan—June 13, 2018) Officials in China’s central Hunan province tried to confiscate the passport of a human rights activist after his friend, a former prisoner of conscience, fled to the U.S.

Peng Yuanzhong is known to his friends as a quiet activist who maintains a low profile and doesn’t participate in many activist events. However, when his good friend, political dissident Zhao Fengsheng, fled to the U.S. with his family late last month, the national security bureau in Yongzhou, Hunan, summoned him on June 5 and ordered him to turn in his passport. He refused, telling Radio Free Asia, “I replied that I’m a normal person. [They] don’t have the right to confiscate my property. I told them that they could nullify it all they want. I’d rather stay at home all my life than turn it in. I’d rather burn my passport than give to the government.”

Last year, Peng applied for a permit to travel to Hong Kong, and when an official came to visit him on June 1, he mentioned that he still planned to visit Hong Kong. He wonders if this, combined with the recent escape of his friend, is what prompted them to try to confiscate his passport. 

Previous to arriving in America, Zhao underwent arrest on a trumped up charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” After being released in April 2017, he was watched closely, forbidden from traveling, and disallowed from working. Because these intense restrictions, Zhao and his family escaped to the U.S. on May 31.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Peng and Zhao, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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