FDI: Senior Engineer in China's Space Program Gains Early Release from Forced Labor Camp

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Zhendong and his mother, Yueli Yang, who was an aeronautics scientist in China's space program. Ms. Yang was illegally imprisoned for over a year because she practices Falun Gong.
TORONTO (FDI) -- For over a year, Ms. Yueli Yang, a senior engineer in China's space program, has been held in a Chinese forced labour camp because she practices Falun Gong.

Due to pressure from an international committee working to rescue family members in China who are wrongfully imprisoned and tortured for their practice of Falun Gong (news), Ms. Yang was released four months early.

The committee that worked for Ms. Yang's release -- the Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners in China (website) -- was established in July 2002. Since then, eight Falun Gong practitioners have already been released from imprisonment in China (news).

Respected Aeronautics Scientist Imprisoned for Practice of Falun Gong

Handpicked by Qian Xuesen, the father of China's space program, Ms. Yang had worked in China's Aeronautics Ministry where she participated in the research and launch of China's first satellite. Ms. Yang received an award from China's National Defence Council for outstanding research and her work on the launching of the "Long March 3" rocket.

On December 7, 2001, she disappeared after leaving her Beijing home to apply for a passport to come to Canada to join her son.

Forty-one days later she was sentenced to 1-1/2 years of forced labour. Due to international pressure, however, Ms Yang, 63, was released on February 6, 2003.

Her son, Canadian permanent resident, Zhendong Yang said, "The Chinese police did not provide any legal documents. There were more than four months that no information about my mother was made available. We were not allowed to visit my mother, nor were we allowed to send her any daily necessities. We had no way to verify whether my mother was still alive."

Zhendong continued, "I just thank the efforts of the Canadian government and those who have participated in this international campaign to rescue our family members from illegal imprisonment and torture. I owe my mother's release to these efforts."

Persecution of Falun Gong Nullifies Significant Contributions to Nation

On December 30, 2002, China launched the unmanned Shenzhou IV saying it had laid a solid foundation for China's much anticipated first manned space mission.

On January 2, 2003, CNN reported Yuan Jie, director of the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau as saying, "Shenzhou IV represents the country's most sophisticated and fullest preparation so far to realize the nation's long-cherished dream of manned space flight."

President Jiang Zemin called the Shenzhou launch a "great victory."

Ms Yang dedicated her life to China's space program, making a significant contribution to this "long cherished dream" and "great victory". Instead of sharing in the celebration, however, she was sentenced to 1-½ years of forced labour.

Many other highly accomplished members of China's society have also faced severe persecution, including a top provincial judge, military personnel, professors and students of China's elite Tsinghua and other Universities, scholars, academics, acclaimed artists and performers and even Communist party officials. All have been targeted by Jiang Zemin's strike hard campaign to eradicate Falun Gong at all costs.

"Jiang's campaign against Falun Gong is quite simply ruining the country," observes Dr. Shiyu Zhou, spokesman for the Falun Dafa Information Center and graduate of China's prestigious Tsinghua University. "This persecution seeks to destroy the lives of countless Chinese people, regardless of how good they are and how beneficial they have been to society and the nation."

Contacts: Cindy Gu 647-999-8530, Joel Chipkar 416-709-8678

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Background
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (about), is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance." It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.

With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China's President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999 (report), fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang's regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.

The Falun Dafa Information Centre has verified details of 572 deaths (reports / sources) since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600, while expert sources estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labour camps, typically without trial.

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