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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

UCC student fears for arrested parents

UCC student Liang Tang, whose parents have been detained by the Chinese authorities.UCC student Liang Tang, whose parents have been detained by the Chinese authorities.
Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision
BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent

Irish Times: A 21-YEAR-OLD Chinese student living in Ireland has spoken of his concern for his parents after they were arrested by police in China.

The arrest comes as authorities reportedly cracked down on the Falun Gong group in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Tang Liang, a second-year finance student at University College Cork (UCC), was on a visit home to Zheng Zhou city in Henan province when his mother, Aiqin Wang (45), and his father, Yu Lin Tang (46), were arrested by police on June 16th last.

He said his mother was seen by police at a bus stop with a DVD “with commentaries about the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]”, and both she and his father were arrested.

“They took both of them to the police station and they held my mother there, and then took my father to my home. I was there at the time and they searched everywhere and busted things up and took everything about Falun Gong – DVDs, books. I haven’t seen my parents since.”

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice involving sets of meditation techniques. However, the Chinese government regards it as a dangerous cult and thousands of its practitioners have been jailed since 1999.

Falun Gong leaders said earlier this week that more than 8,000 of its followers had been detained in recent months, as China tried to prevent any embarrassing disruption to the Olympics.

Liang, who came to Ireland in 2006, returned to Cork at the end of June but has been in regular contact with his uncles and aunts, who have been trying to find out how his father and mother are being treated.

He knows his mother is being held in prison in Zheng Zhou and is facing trial on charges relating to the distribution of the DVD critical of the CCP, while his father was held at the same prison but has since been moved to a detention centre.

“They are in different situations – my father was just driving a car so there so there’s not enough evidence to prove he is really involved. The public prosecutor said there was not enough evidence and he went up to the police station to set him free.

“But the police . . . didn’t want to set my father free because they were on a sort of a mission that the communists gave them during the Olympic period – to catch more people just to shut people up during the Olympic Games.

“They sent him to a brainwash study group to tell you how bad Falun Gong are – this group was later sent to . . . a suburb of Zheng Zhou to avoid foreign journalists in China for the Olympics.

“According to one of my uncles, they said they wouldn’t set him free until after the Olympic Game[s] is over and even after that he might face the labour camps,” said Liang, who is himself a Falun Gong practitioner.

Liang is most concerned about his mother, as she suffers from high blood pressure, and, from information from her lawyer, she is being held in even tighter security. Liang says he fears that she may tortured.

“Her lawyer says she will be held in prison for at least three years and maybe 10 years. Three years is the best she can hope for, and for this you need to back down and say you are wrong, but my mother won’t do that because she’s a strong believer.”

The Irish Times was unable to obtain a comment from the Chinese embassy on the issue, despite repeated efforts.

© 2008 The Irish Times

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