Feature

The activist who can’t go home

Like the Tom Hanks character in the movie <em>The</em> <em>Terminal,</em> Feng Zhenghu has spent the past five weeks in Tokyo&rsquo;s Narita International Airport, unable to return to his home in China.

Feng Zhenghu is living in an airport, says John Glionna in the Los Angeles Times. Like the Tom Hanks character in the movie The Terminal, Feng has spent the past five weeks in Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, after his native China decided the 55-year-old human-rights activist was a troublemaker and refused to let him return there. By night he sleeps in lounge chairs, with his suitcase as a pillow; by day he communicates with his almost 5,000 followers on Twitter and keeps a diary on his computer. Meals are snacks offered by passers-by; a bath is water splashed on his face in the restroom. “Every day the [airport] officers try to coax me to leave,” he says. “They say, ‘It’s a beautiful world out there. All you have to do is walk through those doors.’” But Feng, who was once sentenced to three years in prison for writing a book that criticized Chinese business regulations, would rather return to his homeland and be jailed than live free anywhere else. And so he camps at Narita, hoping that his plight will draw the world’s attention. “I want to wake up the Chinese government’s respect for human rights through my physical suffering and personal humiliation.”

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