A 16-year-old girl has been left to fend for herself in the United States after her parents were arrested by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for practicing Falun Gong.
“She cried often after her parents were arrested. Now and then she would cry her heart out,” said Julia, the girl’s guardian in the United States.
The teenager, Chen Fayuan, came to the United States from central China’s Hunan Province two years ago for study. An avid player of the erhu—a two-stringed Chinese instrument—she attends a school in New York state to concentrate on developing her music skills.
But the arrest of her parents in October has upended Chen’s life in America. She is now left without a source of income and has been relying on others to help with food and clothing.
Although her school has deferred her tuition, "she is afraid,” 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’s parents, Chen Yang and Cao Zhimin from Changsha City, were taken by Chinese police solely because they practiced Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that originated in China in 1992. By the end of the decade, 70 to 100 million people were practicing, according to official estimates at the time. Threatened by its popularity, the then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin ordered the crackdown of the practice in 1999. Since then, millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been imprisoned while hundreds of thousands have been tortured, according to Faluninfo.org.
Chen’s father used to have asthma from when he was in middle school. Her mother had glaucoma, an eye disease, from when she was very young. However, after they started practicing Falun Gong, their illnesses disappeared, Chen told The Epoch Times.
Chen said her parents were changed after learning the practice.
“In 1998, there was a devastating flood in Hunan,” she said. “My father silently donated thousands of yuan. Even though it was years’ worth of savings, he didn’t try to show off.”
However, on Oct 27, 2020, Chen’s parents were arrested while attending a meeting with other Falun Gong practitioners in Changsha City.
"Now I am worried because there is no news about my parents,” Chen said.
“I am most worried that they will be beaten and tortured again ... forcing them to ‘transform’ and give up practicing.”
Falun Gong practitioners are often subjected to torture while incarcerated in an effort to force them to renounce their faith, a process dubbed by the CCP as being “transformed.”
Chen’s father, Chen Yang, had been tortured while detained in Hunan Provinces’ Chishan prison in the early 2000s, according to Minghui.org, a website dedicated to chronicling the persecution of Falun Gong. When Chen Yang went on a hunger strike to protest his detention, he was force-fed with a bamboo stick. The prison guards also shocked him with electric batons. Once he was beaten by multiple prisoners with bamboo sticks, reported Minghui.org.
Chen’s mother, Cao Zhimin, was also previously detained over the practice. In 2015, she described to Minghui.org the devastation wrought by the persecution on her family.
"From the age of 24 to the present, my most precious youth has passed in this persecution initiated by Jiang Zemin,” Cao said at the time.
“After being released from prison, my husband and I have been left without any money, a house, and have been stripped of all our social resources.”
Although Chen is separated from her parents, she believes that the pain will pass.
"I hope my parents can be unconditionally released as soon as possible," she said.