Canadian citizens Yang Huanwen and Du Huiqing, an elderly couple in their mid-eighties, have lived in Vancouver for 30 years. But with the repeated arrests of their daughter in China, the long arm of Beijing has reached right into their lives here in Canada.
Yang Jinyan, 56, has lived a nightmare for the last 10 years, having been arrested seven times and brutally tortured for her belief in Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice involving meditation and the teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.
Falun Gong was outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999 and its adherents have since been subjected to ongoing harassment and persecution.
In 2006, after one of Ms. Yang’s many arrests, her parents were contacted by an overseas Chinese organization in Vancouver and told not to speak out in Canada about their daughter’s torture.
However, in an effort to help Ms Yang and raise awareness about her plight, the couple has continued to speak out.
“China is now boasting of its reform, its open door policy and legal system. But what my daughter experienced is so horrible that it reminds me of the Cultural Revolution,” said Mr. Yang.
“My daughter was arrested again recently and we’ve lost all contact with her. We are so sad that we cannot eat or sleep well.
When she recovered her health through practicing Falun Gong we were so happy and we thought we would never need to worry for her. Who expected that she would be arrested again and again over the past 10 years?”
Ms. Yang’s most recent arrest occurred on July 15, 2009. The arrest document, which is stamped by Zhangshan City Public Bureau, is attached. A partial translation follows:
Zhongshan City Public Security Bureau
Notice of Detention
File zhongshan 03658
To: Yang Jinyan family
“The People's Republic of China Criminal Law Code No.61” detained Yang Jinyan on July 15, 2009 at 11 o’clock “under suspicion of organizing and using an evil cult to destroy the execution of law.” She is held at Zhongshan Detention Center.
Family member of sisters who escaped to Vancouver currently in detention
Sisters Jing Cai and Jing Tian, also living in Vancouver, come from a family of Falun Gong practitioners in China who have been continuously arrested and persecuted for their belief.
Jing Cai was shocked repeatedly with electric batons while Jing Tian suffered such arcane atrocities as being roasted over a hot pit and tied to a tree outside in freezing weather.
Jing Cai and Jing Tian were rescued to Canada on May 13, 2009, thanks to the help of the United Nations, human rights groups, and the Canadian government.
However, their brother, Jing Yu, is currently doing hard labour in the notorious Dalian Prison because he refuses to renounce his belief in Falun Gong.
Chen Jun, the sibling’s mother, although having been arrested and tortured many times in the past, is currently not in prison but is nevertheless constantly being harassed by the authorities because she also practices Falun Gong.
Sisters illegally arrested in run-up to Beijing Olympics; one still detained
Vancouver resident and Canadian citizen Qiao Min Gao is concerned about her two sisters, Su Min Gao and Qian Min Gao, who were arrested for their practice of Falun Gong in April 2008 during one of the Chinese authorities’ pre-Olympics “sweeps.”
While Qian Ming Gao was released in November, her sister is still detained and Ms. Gao fears she is being tortured.
Canadian government’s response
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon has responded to the Vancouver practitioners’ pleas for help as follows:
“The Government of Canada has serious concerns about the human rights situation in the People's Republic of China, including with respect to the treatment of religious believers and Falun Gong practitioners.
Canada has consistently called on China to respect, protect and promote the freedom of expression, association and spiritual belief of all Chinese citizens including Falun Gong practitioners.
“The Government of Canada calls upon Chinese authorities to guarantee freedom of religion to all Chinese citizens in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Government of Canada also calls upon China to release Chinese citizens detained or imprisoned in retaliation for pursuing their right to freedom of religion, including Falun Gong practitioners.”
The three Vancouver families continue to appeal for help in an effort to rescue their suffering loved ones in China.