June 1, 2018
Chinese rights activist Huang Yan, a former torture victim who spoke out publicly in support of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, has been granted a temporary stay in the democratic island of Taiwan after being recognized as a genuine refugee by the United Nations.
Huang abandoned a flight from Jakarta to Beijing during its stopover in Taiwan on Tuesday, and sought political asylum on the island instead, she told RFA in an interview on Wednesday.
“I am very happy,” she said. “When I left the airport in Taiwan, pushing my suitcase, I thought to myself that I am totally free. But at the same time, I am still suffering psychologically from all the years of persecution.”
“I was thinking that I would start revealing [my story], bit by bit, after I arrived in Taiwan,” she said. “There is so much to tell; I wouldn’t get done telling it if I spoke for several days and nights without stopping.”
Huang said she is very grateful to Taiwan, which has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, for letting her in on a 90-day permit while her application is being considered.
“Thank God, and thank Taiwan,” she said.
Huang arrived aboard a flight operated by the island’s flag-carrier China Airlines. Her ticket took her as far as Beijing, but she declined to board the second leg of the flight, and made herself known to Taiwan officials at the airport.
She was supported in her application by Yang Sen-hong, president of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights, and his wife Ling Yao-chiu, its secretary-general.
The couple met Huang, 48, when she emerged at Taoyuan International Airport on Wednesday.
A genuine refugee
Huang fled China after years of harassment, repeated incarceration, and torture at the hands of the mainland Chinese authorities linked to her rights activism.
Her escape to Thailand from the former British colony of Hong Kong, which runs a separate immigration border from mainland China, was assisted by Bob Fu, president of U.S.-based Christian rights group China Aid, and culminated in her being recognized as a genuine refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).