Sun, Jun 20, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Ministry asks Red Cross for help

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior yesterday urged the Chinese Red Cross Society to help repatriate illegal Chinese immigrants at its three overcrowded detention centers.

"We have not repatriated any illegal Chinese immigrants for the past three months and all of our three detention centers were overcrowded before then already," said Lai Hsieh-yi (賴械壹), the director of the Hsinchu Illegal Chinese Immigrants Detention Center.

"Their [the Chinese authorities] excuse is that the only ship they use for the mission has not been inspected for a while. That created lots of problems for us," Lai said.

According to Lai, the most recent expelling of illegal Chinese immigrants was on March 6 this year.

"They [illegal Chinese immigrants] are not inmates. However, the longer they are stuck here, the more they feel they are prisoners, especially when the Dragon Boat Festival, one of the five most important holidays in Chinese society, is approaching," Lai said.

"This is a time for Chinese people to get together with their families and friends. Come on. Let's do something to help them," he said.

Lai said that the ministry carried out 14 repatriation missions, involving approximately 2,200 illegal Chinese immigrants, last year. Before March, they completed another five missions. He said that there are more than 2,500 illegal Chinese immigrants at the detention centers, including 12 children and 30 pregnant women.

The ministry's three detention centers, for illegal Chinese immigrants exclusively, are located in Hsinchu, Ilan and Matsu. Other foreign illegal immigrants are temporarily detained at the ministry's Detention Center for Foreigners in Sanhsia, Taipei County, to await their expulsion.

"Chinglu" was a nickname for these detention centers when they operated under the Ministry of National Defense. It used to be a military unit used by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government to deport illegal Chinese immigrants or smugglers after it lost the civil war to the Chinese communists and officially settled down in Taiwan in 1949.

In the 1980s, the KMT government began to change its policy toward China. The military competition between Beijing and Taipei began to be replaced by peace talks and cultural activities.

As a result, the National Police Agency gradually took over the detention centers with a new official name, "Chinese People Detention Centers," and began to work with the Chinese Red Cross Society to conduct regular miniterial deportations of illegal Chinese immigrants.

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