Urgent Appeal: Father of Washington DC Resident Faces Trial in China for Defending Falun Gong
WASHINGTON DC-The father of 26-year-old Washington DC resident Pang Jin is at risk of being sent to a prison camp because of his attempts to help his wife, a Falun Gong practitioner, avoid abduction and torture at the hands of Chinese police, the Falun Dafa Information Center has recently learned.
According to reports from China, Mr. Pang Xiaoqian will be put through a sham trial in Weifang city, Shandong province on July 14th where authorities intend to charge him with “harboring a criminal” for his efforts to protect his wife from abuse. In October 2009, a local judge “sentenced” his wife, Ms. Cao Junping, to ten years in a prison camp following similarly problematic proceedings.
“I never thought this could happen,” says Pang Jin. “My dad just tried to protect my mom from being hurt.”
Mr. Pang is an engineer and former employee of the Weifang police department. In the summer of 2008 he became aware of an impending crackdown on Falun Gong and attempted to help his wife, a practitioner, go into hiding to avoid abuse. Once she was found and abducted, he came to her defense, attempting to intervene with authorities on her behalf.
For his efforts, Mr. Pang was locked up for one month and forced to perform hard labor. Upon his release, Mr. Pang lost his job with the police department, was denied a travel visa, and faced regular harassment. Authorities attempted to force him to divorce his wife, and after he refused, they moved to put him on trial.
“Mr. Pang’s case is a clear example of the lengths the Communist Party will go in breaking up families and forcing individuals to turn against their loved ones–lest they themselves be targeted–as part of its campaign to wipe out Falun Gong,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang.
“We urge representatives of the international community to intervene immediately on Mr. Pang’s behalf. Neither he, nor his wife, should ever have been taken into custody in the first place.”
Family Faces Years of Abuse
After the Communist Party initiated a campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong in July 1999, Jin’s mother was twice imprisoned extrajudicially and tortured for her belief. In the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, on July 29, 2008, she was again abducted by security forces while staying at a friend’s home. Jin’s aunt was similarly taken from her home on July 9th, 2008.
Both women were held in detention for 15 months. On October 18, 2009, they were brought before a judge in a sham trial. Lawyers and family members were not allowed to witness the trial, and no evidence was presented against them. Under orders from the Communist Party, however, they were “sentenced” to 10 and 9 years in a prison camp, respectively, simply for practicing Falun Gong. The Washington Post published their story in a letter to the editor in January (link).
Two years later, after imprisoning his wife and sister-in-law, authorities have now come for Mr. Pang himself. Although her family can no longer afford a lawyer, Jin hopes that intervention from the U.S. government and human rights organizations can stop the trial.
“I feel so guilty that I could not save my mom from being sentenced to 10 years in prison,” she says. “This time, I can’t just wait to hear the verdict against my dad. I have to do something to change it. I’ve already lost the ability to see and talk to my mom. I can’t lose my dad too.”
Mr. Pang’s wife, Ms. Cao Junping, and her sister, Ms. Cao Junfeng began practicing Falun Gong’s meditative exercises and following its teachings of ‘truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance’ in 1995, and like millions of other Chinese citizens, they found in it improved health and peace of mind. After witnessing the changes to her mother’s demeanor, the couple’s daughter Pang Jin eventually took up the practice as well.
In 2007, Pang Jin left her home and family in Shandong province’s Weifang city to pursue her MBA at the University of Missouri. In the three years since, she has watched from thousands of miles away as her mother and aunt were abducted, tortured, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for their belief in Falun Gong.
Pang Jin can be reached for interviews at (202) 450-8692.