Beijing Officials Probed Over Persecution of University Student’s Parents

Beijing Officials Probed Over Persecution of University Student’s Parents
Leah Guo outside Parlaiment House in Canberra Australia, in April 2023. (Courtesy of Richard Szabo)

Beijing officials in Australia have faced probing by the Australian government over the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Chinese human rights advocates and religious adherents, including the missing parents of university student Leah Guo following their arrest in February.

Guo, who is currently studying at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, is terrified she will never see her mother, Guo Xiaoyun, 48, and father, Huang Yiqin, 51, again after they were illegally detained by Chinese officials on Valentine’s Day.

Her parents were allegedly arrested after they had done a neighbourhood mailbox drop of flyers promoting Falun Gong—also known as Falun Dafa—across part of the Chinese southern city of Taizhou.

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that helps uplift mental and physical health through slow-moving meditative exercises and inner refinement, with spiritual teachings centred on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

Adherents of the practice in China have faced an ongoing regime-sponsored campaign of persecution for over 20 years, which has subjected an estimated 70 to 100 million Chinese individuals to various types of abuses, including harassment, arbitrary arrests, forced labourbrutal torture, and organ harvesting, in an attempt to force them to give up the practice.

Guo, who said her parent’s last known whereabouts were at the Taizhou City Detention Centre (Jiangsu Province), is highly concerned about the treatment they are facing in detention.

“I phoned the Chinese detention centre more than 12 times, but nobody let me speak with my parents, and eventually, they totally stopped answering calls. They just claimed they would treat my parents ‘legally and fairly,’ which, in previous cases, resulted in Falun Gong adherents being sentenced,“ she said. ”I learnt they could get a prison sentence of up to two years.”

She decided that she would reach out to the Australian government for help, despite knowing that, as an international student, she is not guaranteed any consular assistance.

“I’ve heard that when overseas governments raise specific cases of Falun Gong adherents with China, it can result in their release or ceasing of torture because the communist party knows the world is paying close attention,” she said.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Raises Issue with Chinese Officials

Guo’s belief in the Australian government paid off, with The Department of Foreign Affairs deciding to help by raising the case with the Chinese embassy in Canberra.

“On behalf of China legal issues section director Victoria Young, I wish to update you that we had the opportunity to raise Leah’s parent’s case with the Chinese Embassy,” a spokesperson said in a communication to Guo on April 6.

“We let them know our broader concerns in relation to religion and belief, and also raised the particular cases involving Leah’s parents and referred them to the media stories, including the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

“We hope it brings some positive change.”

John Andress, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Australia’s Queensland branch, is confident that the federal support will make a difference for Guo’s parents.

“Speaking out to defend freedom of belief sends a clear message that torture, arbitrary detention, and forced organ harvesting are unconscionable and unacceptable,” he said.

“Grassroots support, along with governments speaking up, will help end the persecution in China.”

Guo’s Parents At Risk of Organ Harvesting

Guo told The Epoch Times that one of her greatest concerns is the possibility that her parents could be put into the CCP regime’s organ-harvesting program, which according to United Nations (U.N.) human rights experts, is targeting Falun Gong, Uyghur Muslim, Tibetan Buddhist, and underground Christian adherents in mainland China.

“If my parents would be sentenced for a long time, they will definitely be required to do blood tests, organ examinations and have their results entered into a database so police will know my parents’ blood type,” Guo said.

“Their organs will be forcibly harvested if their blood matches some patients who need organ transplants. Such procedures occur without general anesthesia, often resulting in the donor’s death, and I could lose my parents completely.”

In a media release, seven U.N. special rapporteurs expressed deep concern and alarm over credible information that prisoners of conscience are forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations without informed consent to facilitate live organ allocation in China.

“Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations,” they said.

“The most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and—less commonly—parts of livers [often resulting in the unwilling donor’s death]. This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.”

Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
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