Former Tiananmen protest leader and long-exiled dissident Wu’er Kaixi marched up to the Chinese Embassy in Washington today, looking to get arrested. In a seeming inversion of recent appeals to U.S. diplomatic missions in China, and possibly inspired by Chen Guangcheng’s refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the dissident hoped to return to China after 23 years to see his family. USA Today provides some background on Wu’er Kaixi and his previous attempts at turning himself in:
Wu’er, 44, escaped China in 1989 after authorities crushed the pro-democracy movement centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Now a citizen of Taiwan, Wu’er said that a Chinese police warrant for his arrest remains valid. His parents, in their 70s and in poor health, have repeatedly been denied permission to travel abroad to see him, he said.
During two earlier, unsuccessful attempts to turn himself in to Chinese authorities — in Macau in 2009, and Tokyo in 2010 — “I managed to become the ‘most unwanted’,” said Wu’er. “I hope the Chinese Ambassador [in D.C.] will be inspired by U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, just like he took in Chen Guangcheng.”
When Wu’er got to the embassy’s doors today, no one inside would acknowledge his existence, an AFP article reports:
Wu’er Kaixi, 44, who now lives in Taiwan, wants to see his frail and aging parents in Urumqi, northwest China, as well as ignite a dialogue on reform with China’s communist leadership — even if it means standing trial.
But when he went to the bunker-like Chinese embassy in the US capital, the dissident activist found the smoked-glass doors locked, and no one responded when he rang the doorbell and dialed an off-hours telephone number.
Telephone calls into the embassy by an AFP reporter at the scene also went unanswered.
[…]”If I want to go home, what does it take? It’s office hours. I call then and ring the bell, but no one comes,” he said, adding that he would next take his case to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog quotes Wu’er on the hardships of living in exile:
“Exile itself is a shameful phenomenon for mankind, for a nation, for a country. Countries that exile people are not civilized, great nations. The exile lives an enormous mental and spiritual torture; exile is a phenomenon that needs to be eliminated if we are looking for civilization and social development,” he said.
He added: “I want to send a message to the world, to show how absurd the Chinese government is. The world has gotten used to Chinese absurdity, and now takes it for something that’s almost correct.”
Mr. Wuer said that he is banned from entering China and that his parents are not allowed to travel to see him, he said. “I want to see them, even if it means a prison visit,” he said by phone Friday morning.