A New York resident is fearing for her father’s life in China. Her father, Zhang Ming, was abducted by Chinese police for practicing a peaceful spiritual meditation system called Falun Gong.
“I just learned that my father’s blood pressure is shooting up very high—over 200. From a medical perspective, his life is on the line. Also he’s not in a good mental state. Police often go interrogate him and he’s under great pressure,” Zhang Hongyu, the daughter, said in the interview.
“What I worry about the most right now is that I could lose my father,” she added.
She already lost her mother at the hands of the Chinese regime.
Zhang Hongyu’s parents both practice Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
The practice became immensely popular in China during the 1990s. At the time, over 70 million people were practicing it—including Zhang Hongyu’s father.
“He stopped smoking and drinking after he picked up the practice. And he started to live a very disciplined life. His health also improved a lot and he follows righteous principles when handling things,” Zhang Hongyu said.
But the regime launched a nationwide persecution campaign against the practice in 1999. Since then, millions have been detained and tortured. At least 4,000 have been killed.
On top of this, Beijing pumped out hate propaganda against the practice using state-controlled media. Up through today, information about the practice is strictly censored on the Chinese internet.
Under this situation, Zhang Hongyu’s mother went to distribute flyers about Falun Gong to the public—hoping to dispel misconceptions and explain what the practice really is. But in 2013, she was taken into police custody for her actions.
“Chinese police beat her up, they also stomped on her feet until they were bruised,” she said.
She was also confined to a metal chair for a long time. At first, the police originally wanted to send her to a detention center.
“But after checking her health, doctors said her life was in danger. Her blood pressure and blood sugar were very high. She could die in detention,” she continued.
So her mother was sent home.
“I remember it was raining that day, me and my father had to help her walk because she couldn’t do it on her own. She was very weak and her body was swollen.”
But that didn’t spell the end of police surveillance on the family.
“Police kept monitoring us,” Zhang Hongyu said. “When we left home for work or groceries, police officers would tell us that they’d like to arrest us at any time. They even said that they would imprison my mother once her health saw any improvement.”
“My mother was under great mental pressure, she didn’t know what the police would do next.”
Three months after being taken into custody, Zhang Hongyu’s mother passed away. She was 52.
Before her passing “she told me to stick to the right principles and not give up on being a good person.”
“Falun Gong didn’t do anything wrong. It teaches people to practice Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance,” Zhang Hongyu said. “Even though the regime is going after the practice, we cannot be silent about the truth, [nor can we] stop speaking out because of the persecution.”
“She hoped that I could leave China, leave that place one day if I got the opportunity. That’s what she told me.”
Zhang Hongyu escaped China in 2014 and now works as a graphic designer in New York, but she had to leave her father behind because he couldn’t get a visa.
“I really hope the U.S. government can speak out and call on the Chinese regime to stop persecuting my father and other Falun Gong practitioners. Hopefully the international pressure can help get my father released.”
Zhang Hongyu’s father is currently detained in Jingu police station in Dandong, a city in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province. NTD reached out to the State Department but did not immediately receive a reply.