From the Chinese Communist's Cultural Revolution to the persecution of the meditation practice Falun Gong, the elderly Chinese couple Li Yishi and Chen Ruifen are no strangers to suppression. For the past five years the couple has sought refuge in Australia but are currently in limbo as they await a ministerial intervention by the Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone which could see them remain in Australia or deported back to China.
|"We don't want to trouble the Australian Government," Mr Li with his wife. MAX DOBSON/THE EPOCH TIMES|
Mr Li, whose uncle was beaten to death by the Chinese Communist Party's Red Guards during China's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), says that he and his wife have also suffered after being arrested by Chinese police in July 1999 for practicing Falun Gong. Threatened with jail terms if they did not renounce Falun Gong, the couple and his wife went into hiding.
Both had practiced Falun Gong since 1994. Before practicing Falun Gong, Mr Li said he had a serious problem with diabetes, with a sugar level four times the average, but his illnesses disappeared after practicing Falun Gong.
In July 2000 they fled China and visited their son, Zhong Jie, living in Australia and later applied for a protection visa with the Australian government which was rejected. Because the couple have raised awareness with Australian practitioners about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, the Sydney Chinese Consulate has refused to renew their passports which would enable them to apply for a visa extension.
On Monday April 18, the day the elderly couple's visa expired they were informed by the Immigration Department that their only hope to stay in the country is through ministerial intervention by the Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration told The Epoch Times that the couple, "will not be required to depart Australia and they will remain lawfully in the community on that bridging visa until their request for intervention has been considered."
Meanwhile Mr. Li has stated, "We don't want to trouble the Australian government or any other organization, we just want to have a safe place to stay and practice Falun Gong. If there was no persecution of Falun Gong in China, we wouldn't have to escape from China to Australia."
To date, more than 1800 Falun Gong practitioners have died through torture and abuse in police custody, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Falun Gong is a meditation practice that advocates Truth, Compassion and Tolerance, and has been practiced in Australia since 1994.
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