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First rejected Chinese asylum seekers complain with Czech courts

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Prague, March 10 (CTK) – The Chinese Christians who did not receive asylum in the Czech Republic started appealing against the rejection of their applications, Hana Frankova, lawyer of the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU) that represents about 30 of the Chinese asylum seekers, told CTK.

Frankova did not want to give any details of the particular appeals. “Generally speaking, we believe there are sufficient materials to conclude that they face persecution,” she said.

In late February, the Interior Ministry announced that it had granted asylum to eight Chinese Christians and turned down the remaining 70 applications. All the asylum seekers should have received the ministry’s decision by now.

The Czech authorities were dealing with the Chinese requests for asylum for two years. Fourteen asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications and left the country during the process.

The Interior Ministry said the applicants had to prove they were persecuted in their homeland. The fact that they were members of a minority community was not enough for granting asylum to them, it said.

Earlier this week, Czech bishops called for a fair solution for the Chinese Christians seeking asylum in the country.

In reaction to voices challenging the lengthy process of assessing the applications, Czech authorities previously said China’s political regime and Czech-Chinese economic relations played no role in the decision-making process.

Frankova recently said that the ministry used similar arguments in both the accepted and rejected asylum requests, the only difference being that the successful bidders were persecuted in China more intensively.

The complaints against the ministry’s verdict will be lodged to regional courts across the Czech Republic, depending on where individual applicants live.

Frankova expected the courts to deal with the complains in several months.

If a regional court rejects the complaint, the asylum seeker may appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court. If this court confirms the rejection, the ministry will set the deadline by which the rejected asylum must leave the country.

The Christian community has been persecuted in China for a long time, but the authorities have recently allegedly adopted even a stricter attitude towards it. Catholics and Protestants are officially recognised, but the churches are monitored by the secret police.

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