Wencai's story

Wencai Qu c.Angela Catlin
Falun Gong member Wencai Qu fled China in 2000

Wencai Qu arrived in Scotland in January 2000, and received indefinite leave to remain a whole decade later, in 2010. A mechanic by trade, he was targeted by the Chinese government for his membership of the spiritual movement Falun Gong.

"I fled China with three other people, and it took me six months to get to the UK through Russia. It was a tough journey. I knew Britain was a country that protects human rights, because I knew that Hong Kong had been handed over to China in a very peaceful way. That gave me a good impression of the country.

"I was a mechanic in the motor industry and I meditated with Falun Gong, of which I as a member. But we’re not supposed to do the meditation exercises, the government doesn’t allow us.

Police crackdown

"In the beginning, the government encouraged Falun Gong because there’s a custom that people do exercises in the morning in China. But afterwards, they were afraid that Falun Gong was getting bigger and bigger because there were members of the group in every city. They thought it was getting out of control. The police came to all the places we were exercising, and they took everything away.

"I lived in a village, and I and many others went to Beijing to protest about this. Because the protests were so peaceful, and so many people were listening quietly to the speakers, the government got very worried and afraid, and after that they tried to catch all the people involved.

"At first my asylum claim was refused, because the Home Office said I would only face a few years in prison for having been a member of Falun Gong. But they don’t understand the way it works in China. When we’re put in prison they can do whatever they like to you – there’s no justice.

"When I first arrived here I knew nobody. Scottish Refugee Council helped me to get a letter to enrol me in Anniesland College to learn English, and I’ve been going there for nearly eight years – the teachers have been great. Caseworkers at Scottish Refugee Council also helped me to get accommodation, and when the asylum support system changed, they helped me again to get another flat.

Appeal

"When my asylum claim was refused, I had to gather a lot of information from China to help me with my appeal. At that point, I could have lost my accommodation and my financial support, so I would have had nothing. But the staff at Scottish Refugee Council stepped in to make sure I could stay in my flat, and they helped me claim my benefits back. They even helped me open a bank account.

"On 18 February, 2010, I got Indefinite Leave to Remain. After ten years waiting, I’d been very lonely and anxious. Now I’d like to find a job – I worked in the motor industry at home, but I’ve been studying to be a pastry chef here too. I’d do any job, though. Until I get a job I think I’ll still be a little bit afraid of the future."