Prominent Chinese Prisoner of Conscience Halted at the Border
NEW YORK—Danielle Wang, a U.S. citizen, and her American husband returned from China Tuesday empty-handed and dismayed that the Chinese government did not allow her father Wang Zhiwen—one of the most well-known Falun Gong practitioners in the country—to leave China, despite having a valid passport and visa. Wang was released from prison in 2014 after serving a 15-year sentence simply for being known as a Falun Gong coordinator in Beijing.
“After two weeks of nonstop, high-pressure surveillance by uniformed and plainclothes police, we were finally able to obtain a visa for my dad,” says Danielle (Xiaodan) Wang. “But when we arrived at the airport, the border patrol insisted that his passport had been canceled. They returned the document only after cutting the corner off and in one second, invalidated everything we had worked toward for months. Now we’re worried about what will happen to him next.”
“The Chinese authorities’ mistreatment of my father is simply wrong. He is almost seventy years old and a completely harmless and kind man. After almost two decades of suffering, he should be allowed to come to America where he can be reunited with his family and live a life that is truly free.”
In 1999, Wang Zhiwen was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a nationally televised show trial. He was released in late 2014 with little fanfare and has been trying to reunite with his daughter since. Wang has repeatedly been the subject of international appeals by foreign governments and human rights groups. His daughter Danielle has been campaigning on his behalf for 17 years and testified in Congress in December 2013 alongside other daughters of high-profile prisoners of conscience in China.
“After all that the Chinese Communist Party has put Wang Zhiwen and his family through, it is reprehensible that they will not leave him alone and allow him to leave the country. Unfortunately, this fits a broader pattern of Falun Gong practitioners being arbitrarily denied passports or illegally detained at airports,” says Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center.
“We urge the United States government to apply high-level pressure on the Chinese officials to grant Wang a new passport and allow him to travel to New York to visit his daughter and finally be truly free.”
Danielle Wang and her husband are available for interviews: +1 646 257 2115