Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦), a Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner who was released by China after 54 days in detention, yesterday expressed gratitude to Taiwanese who supported efforts to secure his release and urged China to respect religious freedom.
“I am a lucky man in comparison with many Falun Gong members and Taiwanese businesspeople who are still in detention. I am deeply touched and want to thank the government, as well as people in Taiwan and overseas for their efforts. Without you [my release] would not have been possible,” Chung told a press conference in his first public appearance since his return on Saturday.
Chung was detained by China on June 18 in Gangzhou, Jiangxi Province, after visiting relatives in Yongkang City.
According to Xinhua news agency, he was arrested “for hijacking the signal of a Chinese TV station in 2003 — a serious national security concern.”
“We should cherish the freedom of speech and religion in Taiwan, and I call for Beijing to let Chinese enjoy the same freedom that could truly bring people on both sides together,” said Chung, who was accompanied by wife Lee Ya-min (李雅敏) and daughter Chung Ai (鍾愛).
Chung, a manager at a technology company in Hsinchu, admitted that he had hijacked a Chinese TV signal in 2003 to broadcast video clips that would “help the Chinese understand the truth about Falun Gong and the Tiananmen Massacre,” but denied that his move had threatened China’s national security.
Chung also denied a Chinese media report that said he “had pleaded guilty and had signed a repentance statement” prior to his release, saying that he was forced to sign the statement.
He had not visited China since 2003 until this year, when relatives asked him to attend a reunion, Chung said, adding that despite being “a little concerned” about what he did in 2003, he decided to make the trip, figuring that the hijacking “was history.”
Chung said he was detained under tremendous mental pressure, not knowing when he would be released, but toward the end of his detention he sensed that the -situation had improved.
During Chung’s detention, Chung Ai staged three massive protests in Taipei and appealed to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for help on three occasions, with the help of Falun Gong Taiwan. They collected more than 150,000 signatures to urge Ma to call on China to immediately release Chung.
“Chinese officials told me two times: ‘Ask your family to tone down their actions,’ but I felt that the louder they were, the better, because I knew it would help my case,” Chung said.
Chung said that he was not indicted on any charges.
“Looking back, this incident has achieved what I wanted in 2003 — to let people know the importance of freedom of religion and faith,” he said.
In response to media inquiries, Chung said he had no idea if his release, which occurred two days after the conclusion of a round of cross-strait talks on Thursday last week, was related to the sensitive timing of his detention and the current political atmosphere.
Chung said he hoped that a mechanism to ensure personal safety for Taiwanese in China would be established, but “that will not happen until both sides uphold the same human rights standards.”
Chung Ai, the driving force behind the effort to raise public awareness about her father’s case, said she was greatly touched by the kindheartedness of Taiwanese.