FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 17, 2002 [ http://www.faluninfo.net/ ]
NEW YORK, July 17, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center)--Ms. Yoko Kaneko was sentenced to one and a half years labour re-education by Beijing police on June 24 for distributing Falun Gong-related materials on Beijing's streets in May.
Although Ms. Kaneko's husband has been trying to contact all parties involved since she was first detained in May, the Beijing Labour Education authorities did not notify him about his wife's sentence. Instead, they sent the "Labour Education Decision Book" to the work unit of Ms. Kaneko's sister on June 28. According to Ms. Kaneko's mother, since Ms. Kaneko's sister was out of town at that time, the family did not receive the notice until last week, on July 9.
Authorities in China have offered no further information on the whereabouts or status of Ms. Kaneko.
Ms. Kaneko's husband Atsushi Kaneko, a 46-year-old Japanese businessman, along with Falun Gong practitioners in Japan have held numerous press conferences and public appeals calling for her rescue since she was first detained back in May. "The cruel fact that over 400 Falun Gong practitioners have died due to police brutality while in custody is vividly real for me now.... I am determined to do whatever I can do for her release," said Mr. Kaneko.
Family Not Notified, Mother Distressed
The Labour Education authority's notice does not tell Ms. Kaneko's family where their daughter is being held. It does not list any work unit, address, telephone number or person in charge who can be contacted, either. The notice is only imprinted by a Beijing Labour Education Committee's stamp. Ms. Kaneko's mother has expressed extreme concern, "I can still remember when [Yoko] last visited me--she was dressed in shorts. Now, I want to see her very much, but I don't know where to find her nor do I know how she is doing."
Thirty-eight-year-old Ms. Kaneko lives in Niigata Prefecture in Japan. Her Chinese name is Luo Rong. Her hometown is Jixi City in Heilongjiang Province, in China. On May 24 2002, when Ms. Kaneko and two Japanese friends, Ms. Yuko Holie and Ms. Abe Ayumi, were distributing materials that expose the persecution of Falun Gong to pedestrians on Beijing streets, Chinese policemen beat them to the ground and took them into custody. On May 25, Chinese police deported Ms. Holie and Ms. Ayumi, yet detained Ms. Kaneko, who holds a Chinese passport.
Husband and Supporters Rally in Japan, Call for Rescue
Mr. Kaneko and local Falun Gong practitioners in Japan have held several press conferences calling for the rescue of Ms. Kaneko. June 30, Falun Gong practitioners from Japan went to the Chinese Embassy in Japan to conduct a peaceful appeal. On July 6, Falun Gong practitioners held a large-scale parade in Niigata Prefecture where Ms. Kaneko lives, with coverage by all major media in Japan, including the Daily Yomiuri.
Chinese authorities typically deport foreign Falun Gong practitioners, but treat practitioners holding Chinese passports or even foreigners of Chinese descent more harshly.
In 2000, U.S. permanent resident Teng Chunyan revealed the evidence of Chinese authorities abusing Falun Gong practitioners in mental hospitals to overseas media. For this she was sentenced to a 3-year prison term and is still in prison now, though her exact whereabouts have not been revealed.
Zhao Ming, a student in Ireland, appealed for Falun Gong when he went back home to visit his family last year. He was detained and sent to a labour camp where he was severely tortured because he is a Falun Gong practitioner. Due to international pressure, Ming was released earlier this year.
Artist Zhang Cuiying, an Australian citizen, as well as Professor Zhang Kunlun, a Canadian resident, were both detained and abused in China for their belief in Falun Gong. They were later released under their resident country's and international community's rescue efforts.
Falun Gong practitioners in Japan and Ms. Kaneko's family say they are counting on the Japanese government and international community to secure Ms. Kaneko's safe and prompt return to her family in Japan.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, 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, 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 Center has verified details of 437 deaths 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. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labour camps without trial.
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