Lu Chen | Epoch Times
Two Members of Parliament in Canada have made a public and forceful call for the Chinese authorities to release a Falun Gong practitioner who has been on a hunger strike for over a month.
Joan Crockatt, an MP for Calgary Centre, said in a statement: “Yinghua Chen’s life is in imminent danger. Chen’s father, a Calgarian and a Canadian citizen, was turned away from seeing her yesterday at the No. 2 Shijiazhuang Detention Centre and he is desperately concerned over her safety, as am I.”
“We want to see immediate action in this case,” said another MP, James Lunney, who represents Nanaimo Alberni.
The politicians may have been partly roused by the cries of Chen Yinghua’s 70-year-old mother, Huang Jinling, who held a tearful press conference in front of the Chinese Consulate in Calgary on April 15.
“Help my daughter! She’s dying!” Huang cried out at one point.
Chen Yinghua was arrested by police in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, on March 12, as she was accompanying her niece, Bian Xiaohui, who was attempting to visit her father imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that has been persecuted by communist authorities in China since 1999.
After the police rejected her request to visit, Bian protested in front of the prison, holding a banner saying “I want to see my father.” Chen accompanied Bian for support and took pictures of her. Both were arrested by police after the protest, Huang, Chen’s mother, said at the press conference.
Falun Gong, a meditation practice that teaches the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, was practiced by over 70 million people in China by the late 1990s, according to official figures. The persecution that began in 1999 has seen hundreds of thousands sent to labor camps or prisons, where they are often tortured. “Black jails” and Legal Education Centers, where security agents attempt to force Falun Gong practitioners to give up their beliefs, have also been set up around China.
Chen went on a hunger strike in protest as soon as she was arrested. She is now said to be “very skinny” and “near death,” her lawyer, Mr. Lan, said. Her father has also been prevented from visiting her. On Friday Chen’s mother said that police had begun force feeding Chen Yinghua, but were forced to stop because the condition of her body does not allow it.
She is being accused of “using heretical religious activities to undermine the implementation of the law,” her father, Chen Zhiming, said in a telephone interview. The vague charge is often used by police against Falun Gong practitioners, but lawyers in China see it as a charge not grounded in Chinese law.
“They arrested her first and cooked up a charge to punish her,” Mr. Chen said.