WASHINGTON DC (FDI) – With assistance and support from the U.S. State Department, Members of Congress and several NGOs, Ms. Weixun Li arrived in the U.S. last week as a UN refugee. Li had fled China where she had been tortured to the brink of death.
Li's case marks the first Falun Gong practitioner without family or other ties to the U.S. granted permission to stay in the U.S. as a UN refugee, and will open the doors for others who are violently persecuted in their homeland simply because they practice the traditional meditation discipline of Falun Gong.
“We are grateful to the U.S. government that this channel is being opened to people who face brutal persecution in China because they practice Falun Gong,” said Dr. Larry Liu, a representative of the Falun Dafa [Gong] Association in Washington DC. “The United States has always been a world leader in human rights protection, and this action is yet another example of its leadership in this area.”
Human Rights workers in New York and Members of Congress in Washington had previously expressed concern over difficulty practitioners of Falun Gong may face gaining official refugee status with the UN since China, ironically, sits on the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In a letter to the U.S. State Department dated July 27, 2005 concerning Li’s case, Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairman of the Congressional Committee of the Judiciary, wrote: “The State Department has recognized religious persecution of Falun Gong both in the Country Report Human Rights Practices for China and the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for China every year since mass persecution began in July of 1999.” Congressman Sensenbrenner continued, “As such, I believe it is important that the State Department carefully examine the refugee claims of Falun Gong practitioners for refugee processing.”
The relevant U.S. Government agencies did exactly that, making way for Li to arrive in Washington DC last week as an official UN refugee with the hope of rebuilding her life that had been shattered by the Chinese Communist Party.
"Our Schindler" Gives Weixun Li Chance at Freedom
Like millions of others throughout China, as a Falun Gong practitioner Li was harassed by police who often use arbitrary detention, extortion and torture to force Chinese citizens to give up their practice of Falun Gong. Police are given orders by leaders of the Central Government in Beijing to use “any means necessary” to force citizens to give up Falun Gong.
In early January 2002, Li was abducted by police and tortured to the point where she was unable to move her limbs, talk or eat. After repeated pleadings from her family, Li was eventually hospitalized. Despite being monitored by four police during her hospitalization, she was able to escape.
Soon after, her elder brother was able to secure safe passage for Li and several other Falun Gong practitioners to Thailand where she applied for refugee status. For his heroic efforts, Li's elder was picked up by police and sentenced to prison for 8 years where he remains today.
Li and those her brother helped escape refer to him as "Our Schindler" in reference to Oscar Schindler who saved hundreds of Jews from death in Nazi concentration camps.
Hunted in Their Homeland
On September 23, Li met with several officials at the U.S. State Department and Members of Congress to thank them for their support in giving her “a new life” in the U.S. She also encouraged them to extend the same assistance to others who continue to face persecution in China.
Describing her ordeal to U.S. officials, Li said she personally witnessed many Falun Gong practitioners being tortured by Chinese authorities.
Calling Hu Jintao’s recent speech before the UN about “building a harmonious society” a “farce,” Li described how countless Falun Gong practitioners throughout China are hunted by police and often must flee their homes to avoid being abducted and tortured.
Without the ability to return home or go to work, they are forced to find alternative means for securing food, shelter and other basic necessities. Most wind up in very basic accommodations unknown to police, with often a dozen or more sharing the floor of one room to sleep and live.
“It’s eerily reminiscent of what I have heard about the underground network that protected Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Warsaw,” says Dr. Liu. “You have a group of people that are targeted with extreme brutality simply because of their faith, and so fellow Falun Gong practitioners and other people of conscience find a way to get by, often hiding in the homes of friends or abandoned areas where the police wouldn’t know to look.”
“Sadly, this is the real state of China’s so-called ‘peaceful rise’ under the Communist regime,” says Dr. Liu.
For detailed reports of Falun Gong-related cases brought before the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Refugees and other UN organs, visit: http://www.flghrwg.net/
For interviews with Ms. Li or more information, contact: Tao Wang 202-422-8133