San Jose Resident Speaks Out After 79-Year-Old Mother Dies in Chinese Jail

By Ilene Eng

SAN FRANCISCO—Yuki Li, a San Jose resident, said her 79-year-old mother, who practices the spiritual meditation Falun Gong, suddenly died on Friday night while detained in a prison in China.

Her family was told that she died from high blood pressure and a heart problem.

Yuki Li’s mother, Meng Hong, died on July 26, 2019 in the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison in China. (Courtesy of Yuki Li)

“China has a policy that allows those over 75 to apply for a compassionate release but the prison stated that Falun Gong is an exception,” Li said at a peaceful rally in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on July 30.

“If she said she would stop practicing, she will be released. But if she continues to practice, then she will stay in prison.”

Compassionate release, also known as medical parole, allows elderly people to seek medical treatment outside of jail.

Because Li’s mother did not want to renounce her faith, she was never able to apply for compassionate release.

Bay Area practitioners stood in front of the San Francisco Chinese Consulate to peacefully protest against the persecution of the meditation practice on July 30, 2019. (Jeffery Chen/NTD)

Since in 1999, the Buddha-school spiritual practice of Falun Gong has been persecuted in communist China after then-leader Jiang Zemin ordered a nationwide campaign to “ruin their reputations, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically.” Government estimates at the time put the number of Falun Gong practitioners at 70 million.

“My mother was a healthy person before being imprisoned. After suffering six years in jail, she died suddenly and left us forever. My heart is broken,” Yuki said.

Now she wants to know why the Chinese government confined her mother to jail until her death.

“She’s already a 79-year-old elderly person. What can she possibly do? She follows Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance to be a good person, a person better than a good person. You imprison this type of person until she’s dead, and still wouldn’t let her go. This kind of behavior, who would do this? Who would understand it?” Li asked.

Li, who has a master’s degree in education, recalled the days when her mother asked her to teach her a few Japanese phrases after she returned from studying abroad in Japan.

“Every time I called my mother, she would always tell me, ’gambatte‘, or ‘you can do it.’ And say sayonara, or ‘good bye.’ But now, I will never be able to see my mother,” Li said.

Li and other Falun Gong practitioners say they will keep voicing their concerns in the hope that the persecution of Falun Gong in China will soon end.