Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

China detains host’s mother-in-law

By Tseng Te-jung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Ben Hedges, host of New Tang Dynasty Television’s satirical show A Laowai’s View of China on Saturday said that Chinese authorities had taken his mother-in-law, Sheng Xiaoyun, into custody in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, and that her family had not been able to contact her since.

The show is held in high esteem among netizens for what they describe as Hedges’ sardonic social and political commentary.

New Tang Dynasty Television, which airs the show, was founded in the US in 2001 by Falun Gong practitioners and Chinese expatriates with the aim of providing uncensored information to Chinese citizens and others and to facilitate the freedom of the press in China.

In a telephone interview from the US on Saturday with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), Hedges said that Sheng was arrested on Wednesday by Heilongjiang provincial police. She had filed a suit against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), alleging the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, earlier in the day.

Hedges said that he was informed of Sheng’s arrest by his father-in-law, who said his wife was arrested because of her lawsuit against Jiang.

Although Chinese police officials said that Sheng would only be detained for 10 days, Hedges said that Sheng has been detained multiple times in the past, and the family have found police statements to be untrustworthy, so he is talking with members of the US Congress and human rights groups to put together petitions aimed at putting pressure on the Heilongjiang Provincial Government and the Chinese consulate.

Hedges said that an unnamed friend of his had rescued a family member through such measures, and that the detainee in question was released by Chinese officials with the warning: “Tell that daughter of yours who lives overseas to keep her mouth shut.”

Hedges said this proves that the Chinese government fears international pressure.

“Heilongjiang is the region where persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is most severe,” Hedges said, adding that his parents-in-law have suffered great distress due to multiple detentions and being constantly under surveillance.

He said that the police had broken into his in-laws’ home to confiscate their passports without any stated cause several months prior to Sheng’s arrest.

“I strongly condemn the arrest of my mother-in-law, and call on the police to release Sheng and return her and her husband’s passports,” so that they can “come to the US and be united with their daughter,” he said.

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