Chinese dissident journalist detained in Bangkok despite UNHCR protection

Published on 21 December 2010

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Thai authorities to release Sun Shucai, an 87-year-old refugee activist and journalist who was arrested in Bangkok on 8 December. He is now in a Bangkok immigration detention centre after a judge fined him 3,000 Baht (75 euros) on 9 December and ordered the authorities to examine the possibility of deporting him.

“We are very concerned about Sun’s health as the conditions in the detention centre are poor,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We fear that a man his age may not be able to endure this ordeal. He is in a collective cell with little hygiene and is not getting enough food. We urge the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and embassies in Bangkok to press the Thai authorities to release this political refugee.”

Sun’s only crime is to have sought refuge in a safe place because his defence of human rights was exposing him to reprisals in China.

Sun was arrested along with other people when the police raided the Bangkok building where he and many immigrants live. Sun should not have been arrested because he has a UNHCR document that says the refugee agency is in the process of considering his request for protection and resettlement.

Sun’s political activism goes way back. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1956 for writing articles criticising the Maoist revolution. After being subjected to forced labour in Liaoning province from 1956 until 1970, he was assigned to work in metallurgical plant. He resumed his dissident activity in 1998, again writing articles critical of the Communist Party, some of which were published in Beijing Spring, a Chinese dissident magazine based in New York.