BANGKOK – Thai police have detained a Chinese college student and political asylum-seeker for having an expired passport, raising concerns that he will be sent home, where he has reported being detained and beaten repeatedly by state security police.
Xu Zhenxin, 19, was detained on Sunday after Thai police asked for his identification en route to the northern city of Chiang Rai, where he had hoped to find work, activists told RFA on Friday.
Fellow Chinese national and Thailand-based asylum-seeker Lu Taizhi said he got a call from Xu, saying he was in police custody.
“He was on his way to Chiang Rai when he ran into some police, who asked to see his passport,” Lu said, adding that Xu had applied for political asylum with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). “His passport had expired.”
“I informed UNHCR on Monday morning around 9.00 a.m. local time,” he said.
Fellow refugee Liu Xiaoying said Xu is being held in the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center alongside another Chinese refugee.
Calls to the detention center in Bangkok rang unanswered during office hours on Friday.
Xu arrived in Thailand last November after taking a cross-border bus to Vietnam and a flight to Bangkok.
He had already received approval for resettlement as a political asylum-seeker, and held a UNHCR letter of protection.
A former freshman student at the Nanjing Post and Telecommunications University, Xu described himself as a political activist who frequently handed out leaflets calling for democratic reform on the streets of the city.
He had been interrogated several times by China’s city’s state security police, who had beaten him at least twice, fellow refugees told RFA.
He also spent a week in a “black jail,” an unofficial detention center, they said.
Xu’s detention comes amid a growing climate of fear for Chinese dissidents who have sought political refuge in Thailand.
Meanwhile, asylum-seeker Li Xiaolong, whose wife Gu Qiao is currently facing deportation for illegal immigration after the family were rescued from the wreck of a sailing yacht off the coast of southern Thailand, has been protesting outside UNHCR offices for the past month at a lack of action on their case.
Li said he was allowed to meet with UNHCR officials on Friday to discuss the family’s plight.
Li, who speaks no Thai, has no current means of supporting the couple’s youngest son.
by Hai Nan and Luisetta Mudie – Radio Free Asia