(BEIJING – Nov. 22, 2010) Professor He Guanghu, a well-known scholar of world religions, was barred from leaving the country at the Beijing airport. Chinese authorities told him that his trip to attend an academic conference would endanger national security.
Prof. He speculated that the action against him was due to his inclusion on the list of invitees to the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony honoring Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
At 9:30 on the evening of November 19, 2010, Professor He Guanghu arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport on his way to Singapore to attend an academic conference. Standing in line to clear customs, he was the first in his group of five.
The customs officer asked He to provide a detailed address and his national ID card number, saying the information had to be verified. Then, two customs officers stopped He from entering the lane to undergo the security check.
His friends who were traveling with him asked to stay behind to wait for him, but the customs officers refused. He was taken away and put into a small room, with a customs officer posted at the door to prevent him from leaving.
He asked the officer to convey his demands to the officer’s superiors: he wanted an explanation for depriving him of his personal freedom and his freedom of travel. He did not receive a response. When He asked for water, the officer gave him a bottle of mineral water.
When he asked to go to the restroom, his request was at first rejected, and it was only when he asked that his luggage be brought to the room that he was allowed to go to the restroom accompanied by a guard.
Then, a customs officer read a note to He: “Pursuant to Clause 8, Article 2 of the Regulations of the Exit and Entry Administration, your departure from this country may endanger state security. That is why you are not allowed to exit the country. Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.”
He asked for the note, but was refused. When He asked for “evidence of endangering the state security,” the other side did not respond.
Professor He was very angry at the time and loudly denounced this action as a violation of a citizen’s personal rights, the right to travel, and of the Chinese constitution, an action that would cause China to lose face on the world stage.
He also gave examples of a series of recent cases in which governments at various levels throughout China have employed violent tactics that caused harm to citizens’ lives and damaged their property. He pointed out that the authorities are turning this country into a police state.
He was also frank in stating his deduction about why he was detained. The wife of Liu Xiaobo, winner of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, had drawn up a list of people they planned to invite to the award ceremony and He had been told that his name was on the list (even though he doesn’t know either Liu or his wife personally).
He said, “Their logic seems to go like this: When John invites Joe to dinner, Jack has the right to stop Joe from going out his front door.” He pointed out that from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union, from Myanmar to Iran, all these governments had allowed the winners’ wives or their family members to receive the award in their place.
The only exception are the Chinese authorities, have even gone so far as to place the prize winner’s innocent wife under arrest!
The wretched affair continued for several more hours, and it was past midnight when He got home.
Professor He said that though he had been mentally prepared for this, yet when faced with the actual situation, he was still very hurt and angry, and couldn’t help being agitated, denouncing them in a loud voice, and breaking out all over in a sweat. As a result, he forgot to say many things that he should have said.
ChinaAid denounces the Beijing authorities for violating Professor He’s rights as a citizen, and believes that any efforts to bar people from attending the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony can only result in China being the laughingstock of the international community and damage China’s image in the international arena. There is no way to stop the tide of history.
Pastor Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, called the detention at the airport and the violation of the rights of Professor He, who is held in high regard worldwide, a shocking incident. This is something that has not happened in many years, and shows that the Chinese government is in a state of constant anxiety, to the point of paranoia and seeing monsters in the shadows. This is surely a historic moment of shame for this nation and this people.
A Detailed Report of Prof. He Guanghu Barred from Leaving Country at Beijing Airport