By Jonathan Tamayo Missing Call Letters
Here in the States, we take for granted some of the most inherent rights and freedoms we grew up with, especially the freedom of religion. While I was reporting in Torrance, I interviewed Jie Li, a woman who fled China after being imprisoned and tortured for her practice of Falun Gong. You can watch Jie’s story in the video above.
Falun Gong is not a religion, but more of a spiritual discipline that teaches the principles of truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance. There are over 100 million people who practice Falun Gong throughout the world. On July 20, 1999, the Chinese government began cracking down on Falun Gong practitioners declaring the practice an evil cult. The Chinese government outlawed the practice and claimed to only arrest and jail practitioners that have broken the law.
Falun Gong Emblem
But followers are saying they are being imprisoned on false claims. What’s even scarier, is reports began to surface about the illegal harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners combined with the disappearance of many followers.
Jie told me she has many friends who have suddenly disappeared or died without a trace. When the Chinese government was contacted about their deaths, Jie was told they committed suicide in prison.
A Canadian politician and lawyer independently investigated the allegations of organ harvesting of practitioners in a report called ‘Bloody Harvest.’ The pair sites phone calls to hospitals that said ‘they have Falun Gong in stock’ when asked about organ transplants. But besides this report, not much else has been done.
In November 2008, the United Nations Committee Against Torture observed an increase in organ transplants around the same time China began to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. The group demanded an explanation, but the Chinese government claimed the report was based on ‘rumors and false allegations.’
Rumors or not, serious allegations with substantial evidence should be looked into. And why isn’t the national media doing their jobs and investigating these claims? Or why has the US government not taken a stronger stance on China’s human rights violations? Maybe the media is too preoccupied with balloon boy and Jon & Kate to do any real reporting, and perhaps the 500 billion or so dollars we owe China weakens our position with them.
HB Fourth of July Parade
Practitioners like Jie, however, spend time protesting and holding rallies all over the world to promote their cause. Followers also utilize various parade venues to bolster support, including right here at the Huntington Beach 4th of July parade.
But more could be done to stop the torture by writing to your senators and representatives. It doesn’t sound like much, but Falun Gong persecution is still going on and can effect our local community.
This summer, I received an email from a Southern California local whose mother and sister were recently imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong. I leave you with this family’s heart breaking story and encourage everyone to spread the word about the atrocities that are happening in China.
Press Release – Rescue my Mom and Sister
June 4th, 2009, my mother, Li Yao-Hua, and youngest sister, Zhang Yi-Bo were illegally abducted at home by Chinese local policemen for their spiritual belief, Falun Gong. Involved Chinese local law enforcement were 610 officers of Xuhui Branch Bureau and policemen of Tianlin Police Station in Shanghai. They not only broke in without proper warrant, but also seized many valuable personal possess. My mother and sister are held in detention center for 48 days because they would not give up their belief in Falun Gong. Currently, they are still held at Xuhui District Detention Center in Shanghai.
Cheng's Mother - Li Yao-Hua
My mother, Li Yao-Hua, is 63 years old. She is a Hong Kong resident who lives in Lu Wan District with my sister Zhang Yi-Bo and my father. She used to work at Shanghai Stamp Factory. Beloved by people around her including the neighbors, she was suffering because of her inherent spinal disease. Sometimes, the back pain is so severe that she couldn’t walk for days. In 1996, all that has changed as she started to practice Falun Gong. The spinal disease was quickly healed and no more unbearable back pains. After personally witnessed the healing power, she faithfully practice Falun Gong since.
My sister, Zhang Yi-Bo, has a master degree. At age 29, she has worked for Siemens Shanghai Branch for over 8 years as a financial manager and has a successful career.
Cheng's Sister - Zhan Yi-Bo
However, she has battled with stomach illness for years. After seeing the remarkable progress our mother has made, she decided to give Falun Gong a try and has improved her health ever since. Moreover, practicing Falun Gong has made her a better person by dealing with emotions in a much more positive way.
My name is Yi-Yuan Chang. I was born in Shanghai city, China and moved to Taiwan with my Grandpa, Mr. Lee Shan-Cheng, when I was 10 years old. I currently teach at UCLA School of Dentistry and serve as an Assistant Director of Center for Esthetic Dentistry. After knowing what happed to my family members, I tried to call Chinese local governments and the detention center multiple times, but only fond out everyone involved is trying to cover it up. Sometimes, they just hung up the phone to not talk to me. Since they were arrested, 48 days has gone by and no family visits have ever been allowed so far. We are very concerned about their health condition. We tried to get some helps from the lawyers we hired in China and found out there isn’t much they can do at this point. We sincerely ask for U.S. government officials’ and public’s helps to secure my mother and sister’s release and freedom.