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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

End religious persecution, families of jailed Falun Gong believers beg government

Vancouver woman pleads for release of daughter, who has spent nearly two and a half years in jail

A Vancouver woman who says her daughter has been persecuted and detained in China for practising Falun Gong called Sunday for the Chinese government to release her daughter.

Du Huiqing said her daughter, Yang Jinyan, 56, has been arrested seven times and has spent two years and five months in prison in three separate incidents. She hasn't heard from her daughter, a Chinese citizen who is from Zhongshan City, in a month.

"For 10 years, she has been arrested and released, arrested and released," Huiqing said through a translator. "She's been persecuted for so long by the government."

Meanwhile, two other practitioners of the religion -- sisters who fled China and came to Canada as refugees in May -- also appealed Sunday for an end to the persecution. They called for the release of their brother, who began serving a 10-year sentence in 2002 for practising the religion.

Sue Zhang, spokeswoman for the Falun Dafa Association of Vancouver, said the mother and two sisters decided to go public Sunday so politicians and the public would pressure the Chinese government.

Zhang said the Chinese government estimates that 70 million to 100 million Chinese residents practise Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. She said that's more than the 60 million members of the Communist Party. She said the Communist Party sees Falun Gong as a threat and banned its practice in 1999.

Zhang released the arrest papers of Jinyan, which according to the translation, say she was arrested July 15 for "suspicion of organizing and using an evil cult to destroy the execution of the law."

Huiqing said she and her husband Yang Huanwen, both 86 years old and 30-year residents of Vancouver, want to see their daughter before they die. She said the two are having trouble eating and sleeping.

"I really hope my daughter can be out of jail," Huiqing said. "I am too old to go back to visit her, so I really hope she can be here and we can have a family reunion."

In the other case, the two sisters said they never knew the religion would lead to such persecution in China.

Jing Cai, who was an administrative assistant in a bookstore, came across a book on the religion in 1995, began practising it and introduced the religion to her sister Jing Tian. Both were attracted by the religion's promise of truth, compassion and benevolence, Cai said.

In July 1999, they heard that 45 practitioners were arrested in Beijing, and the two sisters travelled to the city on a nine-hour train trip from their town of Shengyang, appealing for the release of those arrested in a peaceful demonstration with 10,000 others.

In October 1999, the sisters appealed in Beijing again, unfurling a banner in Tiananmen Square.

Ever since they began protesting, the police infiltrated their practice of the religion, showing up at gatherings undercover, and the government has persecuted them, both sisters said through a translator. They have been arrested, imprisoned, brainwashed and sent to labour camps, the two said.

Tian said the police have asked her to sign documents avowing she would not practise the religion.

The police came to Tian's workplace, "so my boss was very afraid," Tian said.

They said their brother, Jing Yu, is being held in a labour camp, and appealed for his release.

"We're trying to stop the persecution," Zhang said. "Their goal is to appeal, have their voice heard."

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