For trying to get out of China, Xie Shaodong was sent to a brainwashing center for 12 months. As a practitioner of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice, his faith is persecuted in his home country and he saw the best future for him and his family abroad.
But when he went to the Travel Document Information Center in Guangzhou City to apply for entry to Hong Kong and Macau in early 2008, he was told that he’d been banned from leaving the country for 30 years.
Then a few weeks later the police took him away from his home, on the grounds that he was trying to leave, and sent him to thought reform classes. His family’s constant agitation from the outside affected his release on June 12, 2009.
“They feared that I would expose how they have abused Falun Gong practitioners,” Xie told The Epoch Times.
Denying passports and visas has been a measure by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Falun Gong practitioners since the persecution against the group began, led by former regime leader Jiang Zemin in 1999.
Xie once again tried to leave through official channels. But the city 610 Office, an extralegal agency set up to coordinate and implement the persecution, had cancelled the passports of his whole family when he was sentenced to reeducation. Once they found out, they escaped through other channels.
Wang Yuqing had a similar experience. Also from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, she first applied for a passport in 2004, intending to visit her daughter in New Zealand. She was rejected and tried again in August 2007. This time she was told that she would subvert national security if allowed to leave China. The third time she got a passport, but when police who were targeting her found out, they arrested her. “The police simply sentenced me to one year of forced labor for no reason,” she said.
After her forced labor term Wang was taken straight to a brainwashing facility. She refused to sign under torture a “guarantee statement,” a piece of paper that authorities require from Falun Gong practitioners in an attempt to have them renounce their faith, so communist administrators transferred her to another brainwashing facility in Wuhan known for its brutality.
Her daughter was able to exert pressure on the authorities from New Zealand and Wang was released, and later able to escape.
Bao Xuezhen, 62, is a Falun Gong practitioner from Changning District in Shanghai. She first applied for a passport in February of 2005. It was rejected. Over the next two and a half years she applied three more times and visited government agencies and wrote letters about her case. She got the document in July 2007 and left immediately.
After arriving in Denmark and reuniting with her son, Bao said to The Epoch Times: “They told me that I would pose a danger to the country if I was allowed to leave China. What danger can an old lady like me pose to such a big country? … Falun Gong practitioners are good people no matter where they go. A country can only benefit from their presence.”
Read the original Chinese version.