A prisoner of conscience in China has been released after her family in the United States contacted a Texas senator.
Han Xuejiao, 29, was unjustly detained at the behest of Chinese Communist Party officials for a month.
Han, who works at an accounting company in Shanghai, was arrested by police several weeks ago because she practices Falun Dafa, a form of meditation also known as Falun Gong. Its adherents have been severely persecuted since July 1999, facing imprisonment, torture, extralegal executions, and even forced organ harvesting.
The police also ransacked Han’s home, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for information related to the persecution of Falun Gong. Officials also forced her landlord seal off her apartment and cancel her rental agreement. Cases like this one, where police are ordered to harass and frame practitioners, are common across China.
Han’s aunt, Li Lianrong, an American citizen living in Texas, appealed to Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn, who told her his office informed the State Department about the case. A press conference was then held for Han in front of the Chinese consulate.
According to Minghui:
Chinese Consulate officers said they could not help and refused to accept any materials. In contrast, staff members of the congressman and senator met with her and took steps to assist her. Within days, Ms. Li received a letter from U.S. Senator John Cornyn informing her that his office had contacted the State Department about this case and would keep updating her of the progress.
Even after international pressure, officials in Shanghai still attempted to send Han back to her hometown so officials could keep detaining her, Minghui reported. The request was denied, however, and she was released last week.
The abuses against Falun Gong practitioners have long been chronicled, but Freedom House recently released a detailed account of the persecution. Freedom House noted that the persecution has been lucrative for communist officials, through extortion, slave labor, and forced organ harvesting. Independent investigators, in a report last year, confirmed a vast state-run system of hospitals used in live organ harvesting.
“Available evidence suggests that forced extraction of organs from Falun Gong detainees for sale in transplant operations has occurred on a large scale and may be continuing,” Freedom House concluded.
“[The Communist Party initiated] the worst instance of religious persecution since the Cultural Revolution, with the clampdown against Falun Gong,” the report quoted André Laliberté, leading scholar on religion in China with Ottawa University, as saying. He was referring to the 1966–1976 campaign that left millions dead.
The rights group concluded that significant numbers of communist party officials, judges, prosecutors, and police play an active role in the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of Chinese people who practice Falun Gong, Freedom House said.