Toronto Woman’s Sister Gains Early Release from Chinese Labour Camp
Canadians Campaign to Rescue Imprisoned Falun Gong Relatives in China
TORONTO, September 11, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Centre) — Citing effective pressure from overseas government and activists, Canadian residents report that the sister of a Toronto woman has been released from a Chinese labour camp where she was held for practicing Falun Gong.
As part of an international campaign to rescue those detained in China for their practice of Falun Gong, in early July 2002, a group of Canadian volunteers initiated efforts to free 15 more relatives of Canadian citizens and residents. Their campaign has gained attention from media and government officials in Canada.
Voice of America recently reported that Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham recently raised the Falun Gong issue directly with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.
Sisters Emotional During First Phone Call Since Release
Yanying and her brother Zhanzhong Wu, siblings of Toronto resident Yanxia Wu, were arrested together in January 2001 in China because they were practitioners of Falun Gong. Their whereabouts were unknown until September 2001 when their family learned that they had been secretly sentenced to 2 years each in a labour camp. Yanying Wu was imprisoned in Jianxin Labour Camp in Hexi District of Tianjin City.
Yanxia Wu heard of her sister’s release at 8pm on September 7th. She said, “When I first heard her voice, I was very emotional. I thank the Canadian government and Canadian people for all their efforts. Their support has made all the difference.”
Yanxia Wu immigrated to Toronto from Tianjin City in September 2001. She was able to visit her imprisoned sister only once, on the day before leaving for Canada. At that time her sister was “beaten so severely [by Chinese prison guards] that her face could not be touched and her left thumb and index finger could not move freely,” she said. Currently, no information is available about the condition of her brother Zhanzhong Wu, who was apparently detained in the Beichen District Shuangkou Labor Camp in Tianjin City.
Yanxia Wu told a reporter that the telephone conversation with her sister was cut off several times and that her sister is still being monitored closely.
Yanying Wu Discloses Prolonged Abuse Inside Labour Camp — Some Sent to Mental Hospitals for Further “Treatment”
Yanying Wu described the labour camp conditions as “very harsh.” Every morning, she was forced to get up at 5:30am to begin her day of forced labour, which typically lasted until midnight.
Yanying recounted abuses she witnessed against other practitioners of Falun Gong in the Jianxin Labour Camp. One man, Mr. Jidong He, for example, was “beaten until his face turned black and deformed, and was later sent to a mental hospital [for further torture],” she said. He was not heard from again. Mr. Weiwen Xu, another Falun Gong practitioner detained in the labour camp, had his 2-year labour camp term doubled for continuing his refusal to give up Falun Gong. He was also later taken away to a mental hospital after proclaiming “Falun Dafa is good” inside the camp, she said.
Just last month at the World Psychiatric Association’s (WPA) General Assembly meeting in Japan, the WPA voted to send a mission to investigate atrocities and abuses occurring in Chinese mental hospitals. According to an August 27 AP report, “China could be expelled from the group if it refuses [to allow the mission into China]. Beijing has rejected similar missions in the past.”
Overseas Pressure Effective
The campaign by Canadian citizens and government workers appears to be having an effect inside the labour camps as well.
Following the initiation of the rescue campaign in July, Yanying noticed changes in the labour camp environment. The camp officials became nervous and questioned Yanying whether she had been beaten or had witnessed beatings.
Other Canadians commented their family members have witnessed improvements. Mr. Lizhi He, a 38-year-old Senior Structual Engineer and husband of Li Zhang of Toronto has recently been allowed to communicate with family, and his intense workload in prison has been reduced.
Toronto Falun Gong practitioner Zhendong Yang said the labour camp where his mother is detained has recently started to record whether practitioners there have overseas relatives, apparently afraid that detaining these people would heighten international scrutiny of the labour camps.
“These minor concessions in the otherwise abhorrent conditions inside China’s labour camps are a sign that [camp officials] are watching,” commented Joel Chipkar, a volunteer campaigner in Toronto. “China has always denied the use of torture and forced labour against [Falun Gong] practitioners, but first-hand witnesses paint a different picture. International attention works.”
Four Falun Gong practitioners with Canadian ties have now been released due to pressure from the Canadian government and people.
Similar rescue efforts are being undertaken in other countries, including the U.S. and Japan.
Falun Gong practitioners in the United States have announced they will hold a press conference across the street from the United Nations building in New York City tomorrow [Thursday] to highlight more cases of relatives of U.S. citizens and residents who are currently imprisoned in Chinese labour camps for their beliefs.