Beijing Urged to Allow Prominent Prisoner of Conscience to Leave China
OTTAWA—Falun Gong practitioners held a protest outside the Chinese embassy on Aug. 12 to urge Beijing to reinstate the passport of high-profile prisoner of conscience Wang Zhiwen and allow him to reunite with his daughter in the United States.
Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that has been persecuted in China for 17 years. Wang, an adherent, has suffered gravely for that same amount of time, as he was one of the first 100 people arrested during the initial crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999.
A volunteer coordinator of the practice, he was arrested at his home on July 20, 1999. He was detained for nearly six months before being sentenced to 16 years in prison in a nationally televised show trial. He was a healthy 50-year-old at that time.
On Oct. 18, 2014, Wang was finally released, bringing an end to the torture, beatings, and slave labour he endured while incarcerated. But instead of being allowed to return home, the authorities immediately sent him to a so-called legal education centre, or brainwashing centre. Such centres deprive detainees of freedom and operate without legal procedures.
Wang’s family had not been allowed to see him until that time. Daughter Danielle Wang, living in the U.S., was overjoyed that he was released, but said he appeared frail and very thin, his face looking tired and bruised, when she saw a photo of him taken by relatives.
“You can tell from his face that he had been through much suffering,” she said, according to a report by New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television. Her father had also suffered a stroke just before his release in 2014.
The younger Wang spent the next two years getting her father a Chinese passport and a visa to enter the U.S. so that she could bring him to her adopted country and they could be together as a family.
She and her husband, Jeff, travelled to China in late July to escort her father to the U.S. However, the three were prevented from boarding the plane. Danielle Wang said customs officials confiscated her father’s passport and clipped the corner, making it invalid. He thus could not leave the country.
Her father suffered tremendously in prison and after all these years is still being persecuted, she said. Despite this, she said that his faith in Falun Gong remains unchanged. The spiritual practice centres on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance as its core teachings, and also includes gentle exercises and a sitting meditation.
Ottawa practitioners also appealed to the Canadian government and international institutions to help Wang Zhiwen have true freedom and reunite with his relatives in the U.S. as soon as possible.
Li Xun, president of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, spoke in Chinese as he addressed the Chinese embassy staff during the protest.
“Practitioners here today strongly protest the strong-arm acts of the Chinese communist regime. We demand the Chinese authority reinstate Wang’s passport and give him true freedom so he can travel freely and reunite with his daughter in the U.S.,” Li said.
“This persecution of good people is doomed to fail. The more you persecute the more you accelerate the disintegration of the communist regime.”
Li added that if the staff of the Chinese embassy and Chinese people could see the true nature of the communist regime, depart from communism, and stop the persecution of Falun Gong, they would be standing on the right side of history and thereby making a better choice for their future.
“Ottawa practitioners also appeal to the Canadian government and international institutions to help Wang Zhiwen have true freedom and help him reunite with his U.S. relatives as soon as possible,” said Li.
“We also call on the Canadian government and the Canadian people to help bring Jiang Zemin, who initiated and orchestrated the persecution of Falun Gong, to justice, to end this long-lasting persecution of innocent people who have righteous faith.”