Falun Gong Refugees Land Safely on U.S. Shores
NEW YORK — The U.S. government has successfully brought six Falun Gong refugees, including a famous Chinese sculptor, to safety in America the Falun Dafa Information Center said Tuesday. The six, who arrived together last week, are among a larger contingent of Falun Gong adherents who have survived persecution in China before fleeing to Thailand.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration resettled the group in the United States with help from the government of Thailand and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Bangkok.
“We would like to applaud and thank the State Department officials for giving new hope, and life, to these people after the terrible inhumanity they have lived through,” said Information Center spokesperson Gail Rachlin. “Many persons went out of their way to help their cause. This is an important and timely affirmation of the values America holds dear.”
Among those lending support to the Falun Gong refugees’ cause were United States congresspersons Henry Hyde (R-IL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Tom Lantos (D-CA), each of whom signed letters to the U.S. ambassador to Thailand and the UNHCR about resettling the refugees in the U.S. Thai authorities provided protection to the six while staying temporarily in the country.
The cases of artist Liu Baochun, 65, and his wife Gao Jinying, 62, stand out for their poignancy. Liu is a renowned sculptor who had been the Executive Director of the Hebei Province Sculpture Institute and the winner of many international awards.
Liu’s career came to a tragic halt in 1999 when China’s communist authorities began suppression of the Falun Gong. Both Liu and his wife were arbitrarily arrested multiple times on account of their spiritual beliefs. While in detention the couple was tortured. Both witnessed the deaths of fellow adherents at the hands of prison authorities.
Liu escaped to Thailand in 2003, but his wife, Gao, remained in China as a fugitive for an additional three years; only in 2006 did she manage to escape to Thailand and reunite with her husband. During that time she was forced to change dwelling places fully 87 times so as to avoid further arrest and torture, sleeping often on the streets, in henhouses, and in the woods.
“It is hard to imagine all that good people such as these have been subjected to,” said Rachlin. “Their story provides a frightening look into the suffering and plight of countless other Falun Gong practitioners living in China.”
The couple read a statement upon arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on November 15, in which Liu stated: “At present, only a miniscule number of people are as lucky as we are and can escape from the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal oppression. We consider ourselves to be exceptionally fortunate; most people living under CCP rule can’t worship as they choose. Sadly, in China today, millions of Falun Gong practitioners never have the chance to obtain freedom; hundreds of thousands are still being cruelly persecuted. They are put into forced labor camps and prisons without trial, and are all too frequently murdered.”
“I sincerely hope that that the U.S. government, all nations worldwide, NGOs and other just people that respect the fundamental human dignity of all mankind, will speak out against this cruel and brutal persecution.”
Mr. and Mrs. Liu are available for media interviews.