“Indeed, one of the things we find distressing is the fact and propensity of Ghanaians who have come into China somehow and are arrested, to complain that they are refugees; that they are citizens seeking political asylum and staunchly defend that Ghana is a dictatorship.”
“They say that in Ghana the political situation is so bad their uncle is a minister in another government and is being chased, and is here, or that as a result of their religion in Ghana they are being chased or that some witches are chasing them so if they went back they would not allow them to stay,” he said.
Mr Akanbong, who was addressing some Ghanaians living in China at an Open Forum and Town Hall meeting last Saturday, to commemorate Ghana’s 60th anniversary celebration, urged Ghanaians in China claiming refugee status to stop it forthwith, as it was not only embarrassing to Ghana, but also because Ghana was known worldwide for its peaceful and thriving democracy.
“Why would you want to kill or destroy your country merely because you want to stay in another country?,” he asked.
Expressing worry over the high incidence, he also said the arrests for various reasons had become one too many and appealed to Ghanaians living in China to be law-abiding citizens to show that they were disciplined, so that they did not fall foul of the laws of that country.
The Head of Chancery also advised members of the Ghanaian community in China to be truthful to consular officers when they were arrested by Chinese authorities for various offences so that they could be adequately assisted, and also engage the Embassy staff for advice if they want to stay in a foreign country.
“Those who still come with the issue of refugee and persecution, my brothers, let us drop it. It doesn’t work for us and we are all ambassadors of Ghana.”
“Always keep in mind that we want to protect you. We are seeking your welfare but international law also states that we must respect the laws of other countries,” he told the gathering.
Also speaking to the issue of the high incidence of Ghanaians claiming refugee status in China, the Consular Officer, Mr Isaac Seth Odame, said in the past six months the embassy had had to deal with three of such cases.
“We will not countenance people claiming refugee status,” he cautioned the Ghanaian community.
The open forum was held to also afford Ghanaians living in China the opportunity to meet with officials of the Ghana Embassy and have their concerns addressed in an open and frank discussion.
Estimated figures say there are currently about 25,000 Ghanaians living in different provinces in China with 15,000 comprising students offering various courses at universities and the remaining 10,000 living and working in China in different sectors of the economy.
Use of Ghanaian passports
It was also discussed that some of the arrested people claiming Ghanaian citizenship and political asylum were actually foreigners who were using Ghanaian passports.
Mr Odame said there were people in detention at other places who although were not Ghanaians were using Ghanaian passports at the time of their arrest.
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