ISLAMABAD: Days after authorities had offloaded them from a China-bound plane for suspected human trafficking, there was a twist in the case with the woman at the centre of that episode claiming on Sunday that the arrested Chinese national was her husband’s friend. Addressing a news conference at the National Press Club on Sunday, 19-year-old Silvia Shamoon said that Dong Jiang Li had been living and working in Pakistan for the past 13 to 14 years.
Most recently, he was working to on different projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
She added that in February 2017, her husband’s friend Xuan Le Zhang came to Pakistan and worked to supply food to different companies working on CPEC and has been registered with the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) in the corporate class. The company he works in is primarily run by his sister and friend.
She added that she married Dong on December 4, 2018. The marriage was registered in Union Council 12 of her native Sargodha on December 29, 2018.
“This marriage took place with the consent of my parents and there was no pressure or compulsion on me to marry,” she said.
Thereafter, after completing all the necessary paperwork, she was heading to China accompanied by Xuan when officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) offloaded them at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIIA) on February 20.
“My husband’s friend completed all the legal requirements and documents to take me to China while the FIA arrested my husband’s friend from the IIA and later registered a fake case against him,” Shamoon stated.
She demanded the immediate release of Xuan and urged Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to provide her with justice.
“The case against my husband’s friend immediately should be dismissed.”
Later, Shamoon and some Chinese people accompanying her staged a protest outside the press club where they held up placards with pictures of Xuan and demanding his release and that the “fake” case against him should be withdrawn.
On February 20, while checking a China-bound flight of a private airline, Shamoon had allegedly told FIA officers that she was being trafficked.
Shamoon allegedly told officers that her parents had allegedly sold her to a Chinese man, who was accompanying her, for a sum of Rs400,000. After that, the Chinese man had allegedly snatched her travel documents.
She had allegedly expressed the fear that the man may sell her to clients once in China.
Moreover, she further told officers that her parents had previously attempted to sell her to an Arab man in Qatar but law enforcers there had found out and had deported her to Pakistan.
At this, the FIA stopped the two from boarding the plane and travelling out of the country and handed them over to their human smuggling cell in Islamabad for further investigations.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2019.