Urgent Appeal: Taiwanese Falun Gong Practitioner Abducted in China, at Risk of Torture
New York—Taiwanese passport holder and Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Shao Yuhua was abducted by Chinese security agents on July 31, while visiting relatives in China’s Henan province and has not been heard from since. The Falun Dafa Information Center fears that she is at grave risk of torture and calls on the Taiwanese government to do its utmost to ensure Ms. Shao’s immediate release and safe return to Taiwan.
Ms. Shao, 56, was born in Nanyang, Henan province, but obtained a Taiwanese passport after marrying a Taiwanese citizen and resides in HsinChu Prefecture. She learned Falun Gong in Taiwan and has practiced it since December 2007. In early July, Ms. Shao traveled back to Nanyang with her 10-year-old daughter in order to visit her sister.
In the early morning of July 31, Ms. Shao reportedly received a phone call at her sister’s home from an unknown man requesting that she come downstairs. After she went down she did not return and has not been heard from since.
“Ms. Shao had simply gone home to visit family and was abducted,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Gail Rachlin. “Her case clearly demonstrates how anyone known to the authorities to be a Falun Gong practitioner is at risk, regardless of what passport they may hold.”
Later that same morning, several men identifying themselves as agents from the State Security Bureau entered Shao’s sister’s home and confiscated all of her belongings, including her luggage, money, and Taiwanese passport. Shao’s family members were reportedly told by security agents that the reason for her detention was her identity as a Falun Gong practitioner.
It is unclear how the Chinese authorities became aware that Ms. Shao practiced Falun Gong. According to friends in Taiwan, she had mentioned in passing during a phone conversation several days before her abduction that she had been doing the Falun Gong exercises and reading Falun Gong books privately at home. Her family suspects that the phone call may have been monitored by security forces, triggering her abduction.
“We urge Taiwanese authorities to investigate her whereabouts and secure her immediate and unconditional release,” says Rachlin.
Although Falun Gong is banned and brutally persecuted in Mainland China, it is freely and widely practiced in Taiwan. The U.S. State Department 2008 Religious Freedom Report on Taiwan estimated that 600,000 people practiced Falun Gong. Over 850 practice sites exist across the island and several Falun Gong summer retreats, endorsed by the board of education, have been organized in recent years to introduce the principles of the practice to teachers as part of their continuing education. (For more details see: “What a Difference a Strait Makes”)
Shao’s abduction is not an isolated case. In recent years, several Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in China and subject to interrogation and abuse in an effort to extract information from them about the group’s activities in Taiwan or recruit them as future spies to relay details to the Chinese authorities upon their return to Taiwan. In January 2004, Ms. Li Xinju was held for 96-hours while visiting her hometown in Jiangxi province. In October 2003, Mr. Lin Xiaokai was detained for over ten days while visiting friends in China.