Press Statement: Falun Gong Asks Bush to Help Free U.S.-Based Doctor Held in China

National Press Club, Washington D.C.

September 7, 2001

Falun Gong is here today to call for the release of Dr. Chunyan Teng, a 38-year-old permanent resident of the United States, who is now held captive in a Beijing jail, where she reportedly suffers from torture and severe maltreatment. Before her detention, she was a successful doctor of Chinese Medicine, acupuncturist, and teacher in New York. Most importantly, Dr. Teng is a practitioner of Falun Gong.

First and foremost, we call for the U.S. government to take action to secure Dr. Teng’s release and return. We are pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives has expressed its concern about Dr. Teng in House Resolution 160, and that U.S. senators, such as Senators Brownback, Durbin, Clinton, and Schumer have expressed their concern. And now, we fully expect President Bush to use all possible means to ensure Dr. Teng’s freedom, including the leverage afforded by his visit to China next month. We hope that just as other Chinese scholars were released in conjunction with Secretary of State Powell’s visit to China, Dr. Teng will be released through President Bush’s visit. We also call on the American people to join in this cause, to help us rescue a fellow American in need. And finally, of course, we continue to call on China’s authorities to release Dr. Teng.

The detention of Dr. Chunyan Teng never should have happened. Like many others who practice Falun Gong, Dr. Teng was disturbed by the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Compelled by her conscience, she courageously decided to travel to China to do something about the injustice. In early 2000 she arrived in China. There, she went to great lengths and put herself at great risk to document how China’s authorities are illegally detaining and abusing Falun Gong practitioners in mental hospitals and elsewhere. Later, she passed some of her evidence on to western journalists, including a reporter from Agence France Press. Dr. Teng left China for a short while, and then returned to the Mainland in May of that same year.

On May 11, 2000, upon entering China, Dr. Teng was immediately arrested by Chinese police at the Beijing International Airport. She was accused of supposedly providing state secrets to foreigners, that is, for her work documenting the psychiatric abuses. Dr. Teng was then placed in Beijing’s Banbuqiao Detention Center, according to the Hong Kong Center for Human Rights and Democracy. The United States government contacted the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. to learn of Dr. Teng’s whereabouts. However, the Embassy denied that authorities in China had ever arrested her.

On December 12, 2000, Dr. Teng was put through a secret, mock trial that barred all family members from attending, and promptly sentenced to three years in prison. The charge was “prying into and illegally providing state information to foreigners.”

In recent months our worst fears have been confirmed as reports come in of Dr. Teng being tortured and abused in custody. She has also been interrogated over fifty times, and illegally fined 30,000 Yuan by guards, as a so-called “service charge.” And family, we are told, are not allowed to visit; in China authorities often do this to hide a prisoner’s wounds and bruises resultant from torture. We can only imagine the pressure and pain Dr. Teng must be enduring. She is now subjected to the very same abuses she sought to document and to end.

We have every reason to worry, and worry deeply. We know that Dr. Teng is tortured and abused, just as we know that China’s regime has vowed to “eradicate” Falun Gong by the year’s end, and that each week we learn of more and more murders by police as a result. China’s authorities have not listened to criticism, but instead only pumped lies around the world, using terms like “suicide” and “heart attack” to cover their evil deeds. We cannot wait for Dr. Teng to become victim number 277, to die another cruel, cold, lonely death. What we need to do is to rescue Dr. Teng – to rescue this brave woman, now!

Americans all across this country of ours are taking action to rescue Dr. Teng. From New York to California, they have done demonstrations, press conferences, signature drives, letter-writing campaigns, walks, marches, and even hunger strikes. And her students, colleagues, and patients have formed a coalition on her behalf. The American people have shown their concern.

We call on President Bush to listen, to listen to his own people, when he visits China next month. We call on our president to do all in his power to free Chunyan Teng and bring her home.