Harvard Democracy Advocate Flies To Tokyo Airport To Join “Blacklisted” Human Rights Lawyer

Arrival of Dr. Yang Jianli marks 7th “airlift” of support and supplies for Chinese lawyer stranded in Japanese customs area since November 4.

Washington, DC., December 24, 2009. Dr. Yang Jianli, Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and President of Initiatives for China, will land at Terminal 1 of Tokyo’s Narita International Airport at 3:30pm, December 26 (Tokyo time) to join Chinese Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Feng Zhenghu, who has been stranded there since November 4. A Chinese citizen, Mr. Feng was forcibly returned to Japan after he was refused entry into China on November 3.

Chinese authorities have blocked Feng from entry China eight times since June 2nd, 2009.  During his last attempt on November 3, 2009, Chinese authorities stopped him at Shanghai Airport and physically forced him onto a flight back to Japan. Upon arriving in Japan, he voluntarily gave up his Japanese visa. He remains at Narita Airport, a man between two countries, and relies on supplies from supporters who are flying in from Hong Kong and other countries. To date, Initiatives for China has organized seven flights on which supporters bring supplies and encouragement to Mr. Feng.<BR>
“This is a clear violation of  Article 13 paragraph 2  of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees citizens the right to return to return to their countries,” said Dr. Yang. “This illegal practice by the Chinese government denies thousands of citizens, such as Mr. Feng and myself, from ever returning to our homeland.” Mr. Feng has vowed to remain at the Terminal until Chinese authorities grant his right to return home.

Mr. Feng is a well known human rights lawyer who has published many articles on the need for political reform in China.  He is one of the original signatories to Charter 08. The Charter called for specific legal and social reforms of the Chinese government, including the right of return and a return to the rule of law in China.  Most recently, Mr. Feng visited Washington, DC as a delegate to the Fifth Interethnic/Interfaith Leadership Conference sponsored by Initiatives for China and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.  The Conference promotes cooperation and respect between the various ethnic and religious groups of China. The Chinese government typically violates the right of its citizens to return home as a means of silencing politically undesirable individuals.

During his planned 3-day visit with Mr. Feng, Dr. Yang plan will hold a press conference and a webcast to galvanize support for Mr. Feng and to create awareness of Chinese government’s policy of “blacklisting” it citizens. Dr. Yang will also present Mr. Feng with the “Freedom Pioneer” Award. Awarded by Beijing Spring Magazine, A New York based pro democracy publication, this award regonizes individuals on the forefront of the Struggle for democracy in China. In 2007, Dr. Yang was the first receipient of this award.