Tearful Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and Falun Gong practitioners yesterday called on the government to lend a helping hand to Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner Chung Ting-pang (鍾鼎邦), who was taken away by law enforcement agents in China on Monday to “assist in an investigation of Falun Gong activities” and has not been heard from since.
A Mainlander, Chung frequently travels to his father’s hometown in Yongkang City, Jiangxi Province, to visit his father’s relatives, even after his father passed away 15 years ago.
However, when he was about to leave the country after his most recent visit, he was taken away by Chinese authorities at the airport in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, his wife said.
“His relatives drove him to the airport and watched as he walked into the restricted area, but he didn’t arrive at the airport in Taiwan,” Chung’s wife, surnamed Lee (李), told a press conference at the legislature. “We contacted his relatives in China immediately; they went to check and told us that he was taken away from the airport to ‘assist in an investigation of Falun Gong activities.’”
“It’s the Dragon Boat Festival tomorrow [Saturday], a day for family reunions, but I will have to ‘celebrate’ it without my husband, my daughter without her father, and my mother-in-law without her son,” a tearful Lee said.
Chung’s mother, surnamed Lai (賴), called on the government to help her son, especially since it says that cross-strait relations are the best they have been in decades.
“My son is a good man, he treats me well and looks after his father’s relatives in China, even 15 years after my husband’s death,” Lai said. “Falun Gong is his religious belief. It’s a religion that teaches truth, compassion and tolerance — my son’s personal religious beliefs should not be the reason for his arrest.”
Lee said the family has sought help from the Straits Exchange Foundation, but the only reply they have received is that the foundation would notify its counterpart in China, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, and then wait for its reply before taking any action.
“I want the government to be more proactive,” she added.
DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) urged the Chinese government to respect everyone’s right to freedom of religion and unconditionally release Chung. Cheng also called on the Taiwanese government to insist on clauses to protect the rights of Taiwanese in China in any future agreements that Taipei signs with Beijing.
“Everyone in Taiwan is now waiting to see if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — who vowed to make Taiwan a human rights-based country — can help a fellow countryman come home for the Dragon Boat Festival through all means and all channels necessary,” said attorney Teresa Chu (朱婉琪), spokesperson for the Falun Gong Human Rights Lawyers Working Group.