The release by Chinese authorities of Shizhen Qin, a 67-year-old practitioner of Falun Gong, is being ascribed by her daughter to pressure from New York state.
Annie Li, who lives in Albany County, said a June 6 Daily Gazette article played a significant role in the release of Qin, her mother, who had been detained in what Li called a brainwashing center in China.
In an e-mail, Li credited the June 6 story with bringing, for the first time, “my mother’s story to the public. I translated your article into Chinese and mailed back to my home town Chinese officials.
“I am pleased to let you know that my mother was released, and now she is in our house in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province! On October 4, I talked with her the first time after her four months’ detention, and she sounded very good.
“You helped my mother return to her home,” Li said, by putting pressure on the Chinese officials.
More significant was the support Li and Shizhen Qin received from many elected officials, including Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, and Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany.
According to the Falun Gong Web site clearwisdom.net, 50 members of the New York state Legislature requested Qin’s release. The Web site said Qin, a retired professor, had been “illegally detained in the Gongjiawan Brainwashing Center. … On May 24, 2008, her former employer and Lanzhou city police officers arrested her and took her to a brainwashing center, known as the Legal Training School of Lanzhou. … Many Falun Gong practitioners have been killed or disabled from torture in this center during the past six years. … TV stations and newspapers are reporting her experience and the reports have received great attention.”
Ben Suarato, a legislative assistant to McNulty, said the congressman is very pleased at Qin’s release, and is now working with the U.S. State Department to convince Chinese authorities to issue her a passport so that she can leave the country. Suarato said a State Department official called him back Monday and said the department is interested in pursuing the case. However, Suarato also noted that Qin is a Chinese citizen and resident, which limits U.S. influence.
Li said when her older sister was asked to pick up her mother, she was threatened by the authorities in these terms: “Tell your younger sister [me] to shut up, and don’t make so much noise. Otherwise be careful of losing your job.”
Regarding her recent phone conversations with her mother, Li said: “Because her telephone is still bugged, she can only tell ‘I am fine, I read everything I should read [referring to supporting letters and media reports published on clearwisdom.net during her detention].’”
Li said her mother has been applying for a passport since 1999 without success, and she and her husband, Li’s father, were recently turned down by the Lanzhou City police. Li said that in China, “a citizen can obtain his passport only from local police station, where the Communist regime has its own computer network.”
Suarato said McNulty hopes the State Department can influence central police authorities in the capital of Beijing. He said Li deserves the credit for her mother’s release.
“My father told me he and my mother were refused at the very first stage of passport application,” Li said. “The officer there checked their names and IDs on computer, made several phone calls, and then threw back my mother’s ID, [saying] ‘We cannot issue you a passport, you know the reason,’” which Li took to mean because of her mother’s religious practices. Falun Gong is a form of Buddhism strongly opposed by Chinese authorities.
“I am very concerned that my mother will be kidnapped again if she stays in China,” Li said. “Also my parents have been married for 40 years and never been separated; I wish they can come to our country together.”
Li is a freelance journalist for a Chinese language newspaper, and her husband works in the nanotech center at the University at Albany.