A 16-year-old Chinese girl, who is studying music in New York, hopes her one simple Christmas wish could be granted: the unconditional release of her parents who are detained in China for practicing Falun Gong.
It has been more than a year since Grace Chen Fayuan, a talented erhu player, heard any news of what happened to her parents after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) arrested them on Oct. 27, 2020. She herself has faced brief detention at the tender age of 5.
“I haven’t had any contact with them. And I don’t know where they go. I miss them,” said Chen in a 1-minute video posted on social media by the Falun Dafa Information Center, a press office for Falun Gong.
Chen’s parents, Chen Yang and Cao Zhimin, from Changsha City, Hunan province, were arrested multiple times for practicing Falun Gong.
A letter campaign has been launched this Christmas to help Chen’s parents. People are urged to write letters to the detention center that last held her parents after their arrest.
Chen’s high school classmates have recently written over a dozen letters addressed to her parents to encourage them to stay strong, wishing for the family’s earliest reunion in New York.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice that was introduced to the public in China in 1992. According to official estimates at the time, within the next seven years, 70–100 million Chinese people had taken up the spiritual practice, which is based on the core values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
However, the CCP perceived the peaceful meditation practice’s growing popularity and moral teachings as a threat to its atheistic Marxist ideologies and launched a violent nationwide campaign in July 1999 to persecute Falun Gong, resulting in tens of thousands of adherents being arrested and tortured, with many being killed for their organs.
Chen’s parents were one of the countless others who were sentenced in 1999 shortly after the persecution started, when they went to Beijing to petition, according to several reports by Minghui.org—a website dedicated to reporting on the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Her father, a computer engineer, was sentenced to four years in prison and tortured, including being shocked with electric batons and beaten until one of his teeth was knocked out. Her mother, a human resources employee for a state-owned company, was given a three-year term and forced to do slave labor for more than 10 hours a day. Chen was also arrested once.
In 2010, then-5-year-old Chen was on her way to kindergarten with her mother when at least five unidentified men dragged them both into a car and took them to a brainwashing center. Her mother was released after 17 days. The men were later identified as officials of the 610 Office—an extrajudicial body responsible for carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong.
In April 2021, The Epoch Times reported that a GoFundMe was set up for Chen to cover her tuition and living expenses in the United States after her parents were detained and she was left without a source of income. The latest arrest had Chen worrying if her parents would be tortured again.
“Now I am worried because there is no news about my parents,” Chen told The Epoch Times in a previous interview. “I am most worried that they will be beaten and tortured again … forcing them to ‘transform’ and give up practicing.”
Transforming prisoners of conscience is the communist regime’s routine psychological abuse that consists of brainwashing and torture to coerce spiritual believers into renouncing their faith.
Chen’s guardian in New York, Julia, said then that the teen cried often after her parents were arrested.
“Now and then she would cry her heart out,” said Julia. “She said she didn’t know what will happen to her parents or where her future will be. She said she is afraid of seeing police cars or hearing police sirens.”
Chen is seeking the support of kindhearted people to realize her Christmas wish. Those who wish to send Chen’s parents a letter can send it here: No. 1736, Yuanda 2nd Road, Quantang Town, Changsha County, 410131, China.