TORONTO, December 31, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Centre) -- After months of appealing throughout the country, Helen Peng could not have wished for a more fitting Christmas gift.
When the Canadian called China to wish her family a happy holiday, she discovered that her twin sister was no longer a prisoner of conscience. "It is not because the labour camp is compassionate that she was released, but because the Global Rescue campaign and Canadian Government exerted pressure on China," said Helen (Tianying) Peng this week from Toronto.
Helen Peng (right) received news on Christmas Eve that her twin sister Tianxiong (left) was released from a labour camp in China, where she had been illegally detained for practicing Falun Gong. Helen praises the efforts of the Global Rescue campaign and the Canadian Government.
The Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners in China (website) was established in September 2002. Since then, six Falun Gong practitioners have already been released from imprisonment in China. Tianxiong, who had been detained without legal process since March 2002, is the fifth with family members in Canada.
Both Tianxiong and twin sister Helen, age 30, have been practicing Falun Gong since 1995. Helen immigrated to Canada in 1999. Tianxiong remained in China and worked as a military medical officer.
Since Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched his campaign against Falun Gong in 1999, Tianxiong's life has been filled with persecution and harassment.
Mother of Infant Kidnapped, Subjected to Intense Brainwashing
In March 2001, Tianxiong was abruptly separated from her four-month-old son and detained in an isolated room at the Guangzhou First Military Medical University for one month. There she was subjected to constant brainwashing efforts, including being forced to watch specially designed videos attacking Falun Gong. According to her family members, those days were unbearable for her infant, who was still breast-feeding.
She was detained again one year later. While attending a meeting at the request of her university, Tianxiong was kidnapped. Later, her husband received notice that she had been sent to the Chatou Labour Camp in Guangzhou and would not be released until she denounced Falun Gong. According to Helen, news from her hometown was that dozens of her fellow practitioners were also detained in that labour camp.
In order to protest her illegal abduction and detention, Tianxiong refused to accept the labour camp's food and water. The labour camp did not respond to her appeal, however.
Sister Mobilizes Rescue Campaign in Canada
In September 2002, Helen Peng joined eleven other Canadian citizens and residents with family members persecuted in China for practicing Falun Gong. Together, they launched a campaign to rescue their loved ones.
The Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners in China has spread to 16 countries and includes more than 100 family members (website) currently detained in China.
Helen has traveled to different cities and towns in Canada in order to meet with various government officials, speak to reporters, and collect petition signatures from the public. She hoped that someday her efforts would bring her sister home.
"My wish (for my sister's release) was realized on Christmas Eve. It is like a dream," she said. "I truly appreciate the Canadian government and all the others for their kind help and I wish them the very best. I hope each government will help the Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China and help end this persecution which should never have occurred."
Still Under Surveillance in China
On December 28, Helen had an opportunity to speak with her sister for the first time since the release. "She said she was treated differently than all the other Falun Gong practitioners in the labour camp but she did not know why... until she was released and heard about the Global Rescue campaign and pressure from the government."
Helen said that her sister, who was released on December 7, did not contact her twin earlier because she was still being monitored closely. Because of the surveillance, their Saturday call was also short.
"I am sad for the tribulations my sister has endured and I hope she can come soon to the safe environment in Canada," said Helen.
On October 24, 2002, Canadian Members of Parliament unanimously voted in support of Private Members Motion: A Resolution on Falun Gong (M-236). The House of Commons vote called upon Prime Minister Jean Chretien to specifically raise the issue of the imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. The Prime Minister was asked to request the release of those with family members in Canada so that they can reunite with their families.
In addition to the releases in this rescue campaign, the Canadian government has helped rescue four other persecuted practitioners out of China, including Ms. Yuzhi Wang (story), a survivor of the notorious Wanjia Labour Camp, who arrived in Canada last month.