This Mother’s Day, families around the world are separated because of the pandemic, but untold thousands of mothers in China are separated from their children for a different reason — detention for practicing or sharing information about Falun Gong.
Here, we highlight five such mothers from different parts of China. Their sons and daughters on the other side of the world call for their release and await the day they can be reunited. We hope you can keep them in your thoughts.
Sentenced to six years in prison for distributing literature about the persecution
Plainclothes policemen in Yunnan Province abducted Ms. Deng Cuiping in July, 2016. In early 2017, she was sentenced after a sham trial to six years in prison for telling people about the persecution of Falun Gong, including three years of torture she had personally endured 2006-2009.
Her daughter, Iris Lu, pictured above, lives in Florida. She continues to call for her mother’s release. An article detailing her mother’s ordeal was published in the USA Today ahead of Mother’s Day in 2017. In 2019, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China demanded her release. Ms. Deng remains imprisoned today and under tight supervision with limited access to family visits due to the pandemic and her refusal to renounce her faith. Her daughter has started a petition calling for her mother’s freedom that can be signed here.
Sentenced to 4 1/2 years prison for possessing Falun Gong materials
Ms. Liang Xin and her husband, Mr. Yao Guofu, were both abducted in Ms. Liang Xin and her husband, Mr. Yao Guofu, were both abducted in December 2015 by 30 plainclothes policemen who had forcibly entered their home in Henan Province. According to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, Amnesty International and Freedom House, the couple’s sentencing verdict included charges of possessing Falun Gong books and literature related to the persecution, as well as evidence of using a virtual private network (VPN) to jump the Great Firewall and access blocked websites. Their daughter Yolanda Yao resides in California.
Held at a Beijing detention center, exhibiting signs of mental and physical deterioration due to likely abuse
Known in her rural village outside of Beijing for her devotion to raising the children of her divorced brother-in-law, the 62-year-old Ms. Meng attributed this quality to her practice of Falun Gong. She was abducted by police several times for telling others about the practice, most recently in May 2018, when she was home alone.
Family members who later visited her at the Beijing Changping Detention Center reported a dramatic deterioration in her physical and mental state. Her body appeared frail and her movements slow. Her speech was slurred and sometimes nonsensical. When asked about being tortured or injected with drugs, Ms. Meng refused to answer. She only cried. Her daughter currently resides in the United States.
Sentenced to almost three years in prison for practicing Falun Gong
Ms. Zhang Aili, 66, has been abducted by police several times for her practice of Falun Gong, most recently in November 2018. At the time of her detention in Shandong Province, authorities confiscated 20,000 yuan, computer equipment and Falun Gong materials that she had collected and curated over the course of her 25 years of practice. In December 2019, she was sentenced after an unfair trial with other local practitioners to two years and 10 months in prison.
Her only child, Mr. Zhang Yi has also been arrested several times and lost his employment due to his own practice of Falun Gong. In 2016, he fled to the United States. He hopes his mother will be released and able to join him.
Died abruptly near the end of a 7 year prison sentence
First abducted in 2004 for putting up a poster about Falun Gong and then again in 2012 for distributing literature about the practice, Ms. Meng had previously been discharged on medical parole on account of her advanced age. But police abducted her from her home in 2013 for no known reason. She was later sentenced to seven years in prison.
Last summer, Ms. Meng’s daughter, Ms. Li Xuesong, a resident of San Francisco, learned that family members living in China received a call from the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison on July 26, 2019 that Ms. Meng was being moved to a nearby hospital to undergo treatment for high blood pressure. When they reached the hospital, however, family members witnessed that Ms. Meng had already passed away by the time she arrived.
She died at the age of 79, just nine months before her scheduled release.
“My mother was a healthy person before being imprisoned,” Li said at a public commemoration for her mother in California. “After suffering six years in jail, she died suddenly and left us forever. My heart is broken.”
Ms. Meng’s daughter, Ms. Li Xuesong, a resident of San Francisco, said that other family members living in China received a call from the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison that Ms. Meng was being moved to a nearby hospital for high blood pressure treatment. Family members witnessed, however, that Ms. Meng had already passed away by the time she arrived.
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