Let More People Like Li Weixun Live in Freedom

On September 21st, 2005, Ms. Li Weixun, a Falun Gong practitioner from Liaoyang City, Liaoning Province in China was successfully relocated to the United States. The effort involved the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S.-based Friends of Falun Gong, U.S. State Department, U.S. Congress, and several NGOs.

This was another example of efforts by the international community to rescue persecuted Falun Gong practitioners out of China. It was a good start for the executive branch of the United States, whose actions have been commendable. UNHCR and the United States government's acceptance of Li Weixun was very encouraging to those who are being persecuted. In a broader sense, Ms. Li's rescue demonstrated the international community's support for the kind and innocent, and resistance against tyranny. It effectively shocked the Chinese Communist Party, who is trying to hide the facts of the persecution of Falun Gong.

Ms. Li was formerly employed by the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group. Prior to learning Falun Gong in 1996, she suffered from poor health for over 30 years. After the persecution began in 1999, she went to Beijing to appeal to the government for Falun Gong. She was arrested and brutally tortured to the point where her life was in danger. Thanks to efforts by family members and friends who risked their lives to help her, Ms. Li was able to travel to Thailand and obtained refugee status through UNHCR. Even then, she was not completely safe.

Ms. Li's experience of being persecuted is typical of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Practitioners regained physical and mental health through the practice of Falun Gong, and elevated their moral standards. However, because of their firm belief in Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance, the Chinese Communist Party-controlled government brutally persecuted them. Tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted, and at least hundreds of thousands sent to labour camps, brainwashing centres, and prisons. Thousands have died from torture. The only goal of this extremely vicious persecution was to make the practitioners give up their belief.

This long-term, large-scale, severe human rights abuse is an utter violation of international laws and a critical challenge to mankind's basic values and dignity. It is a test to the conscience of every individual and every nation. It is fundamentally a fanatical persecution of all of mankind. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to this persecution and give a silent nod to the disastrous consequences it will bring. The countries of the world should courageously shoulder the burden of upholding international standards and protecting human rights.

Efforts by the international community have proven effective. In 2000, Ms. Zhang Cuiying, an artist who was illegally detained for appealing to the government on behalf of Falun Gong, was released. In 2001, pressure from the Canadian government brought freedom to sculptor and professor Mr. Zhang Kunlun, who was also detained by the Chinese government. In 2002 and 2003, at least six Falun Gong practitioners were released from Chinese prisons and rescued to Canada, thanks to overseas Falun Gong advocacy organisations and the Canadian government. In 2002, after repeated requests by the government of Ireland and the Irish people, the Chinese government released Trinity College student Mr. Zhao Ming, a graduate of Qinghua University, who later returned to Ireland.

There are more such examples. The success of these rescues demonstrates that if the international community is determined to protect universal human rights and take concrete actions, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will have to withdraw from the persecution. Justice triumphs by defeating injustice. Be it public appeal or diplomatic intervention, justice can play an essential, supportive role. More importantly, the value and meaning of this support is far beyond rescuing the victims from torture and imprisonment. It is an affirmation of morality and spiritual beliefs, as well as resistance against tyranny which harms the innocent.

Ms. Li does not have family members in the United States. She came to the United States as a UNHCR refugee. The UNHCR and the United States government have set a good example of how the international community can offer help to victims of this unprecedented persecution of a spiritual faith, and to meet their basic safety and survival needs. On the other hand, the Falun Gong practitioners, who have persisted in their noble faith despite the most vicious persecution by a powerful dictatorship, have protected the morality and dignity of the entire human race. They are heroes of our era. If we do not support and assist them when they are suffering, we will not be able to live at peace with our conscience in the days to come.

Ms. Li's story tells us that we must strive to support the voice of justice, which is not limited by national, racial, or cultural backgrounds, for it is essential to the continuation of mankind.

The CCP's persecution of Falun Gong continues. Ms. Li's family members, who have assisted her in leaving China, are still being persecuted. Their suffering calls for more attention and support by the international community. We must let more people like Li Weixun live in freedom.

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