A recent report by the Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners provides the details of the deaths of at least five children ranging in age from eight months to 17 years who have died as a result of persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group in China.
The report also describes the experiences of many more children who through the incarceration or death of their parents under official persecution have become orphans or have lost the care of their parents, and have lost their rights to education and other social services and basic human rights. The report also provides information on underage Falun Gong practitioners who have been forced to submit to brainwashing and to renounce their beliefs, and others who have been detained in Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) camps.
Human Rights in China (HRIC) expresses its deep concern over this report, in particular as China’s report on its implementation of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child comes up for review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in May 2005.
Following are some of the cases detailed in the report:
• Wang Lixuan and her eight-month old son, Meng Hao, natives of Shandong Province, were detained on October 22, 2000 while traveling to Beijing, where Wang Lixuan was planning to petition on behalf of Falun Gong. The mother and baby both died at the Tuanhe Forced Labor Dispatch Division in Beijing on November 7, 2000. The coroner’s exam determined that Wang Lixuan’s neck and fingers were broken, her skull was fractured and she had a needle stuck in her lower back. Her baby, Meng Hao, was found to have deep bruises on his ankles and head and blood in his nose. It is believed that little Meng Hao had been hung upside down by his ankles.
• Chen Ying, a 17-year old girl, went to Beijing in August 1999 to petition on behalf of Falun Gong. Police detained her, and police officers and officials escorted her on a train back to her home in Heilongjiang Province. After the officials abused and insulted Chen Ying during the train ride, she jumped out of a window and was fatally injured.
• Liu Qian, a 12-year old girl, began practicing Falun Gong in 2003 as a form of therapy after learning that she had leukemia. Eight months later she was well enough to return to school, but the principal insisted that Liu Qian and her parents sign a pledge that she would stop practicing Falun Gong. When Liu Qian and her family refused to comply, Liu Qian was expelled form school. Liu Qian fell into a deep depression, and her health deteriorated. She died on February 11, 2004.
According to the report, as of September 18, 2004 some 1,047 Falun Gong practitioners had died in relation to official persecution, with many more detained for their beliefs. Many of these practitioners have left behind children who suffer a less visible form of persecution. The report provides details of several such cases.
• Four-year-old Rong Rong lost her father, Zou Songtao, when she was not even a year old. Zou died in the Wangcun Village Laogai (Reform Through Labor) Camp in Zibo City, Shandong Province on November 3, 2000, after being detained and sentenced for refusing to renounce his Falun Gong beliefs. Rong Rong’s mother, Zhang Yunhe, lost her accounting job because of her religion, and in May 2001 fled her home to avoid arrest. She has not been heard from since. Rong Rong was sent to live with her grandparents, but her grandmother died soon afterward.
• Lin Huixuan, a five-year-old girl, has not seen her father, Lin Yanqing, since the end of 2002, when he was sentenced to three years in a forced labor camp. Huixuan, along with her mother, Xu Lei, and her grandparents were forced into a life on the road to escape arrest. Nevertheless, on February 19, 2004 Huixuan’s mother and grandparents were arrested in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, and taken back to Beijing. Forcibly separated from those closest to her, Huixuan has been put into the care of another relative.
• On February 7, 2004, Falun gong practitioner Zhao Xudong died from abusive treatment at the Lanzhou City Huilinshan No. 2 Detention Center. His wife, Li Hongping, and his mother, Jin Yuyue, are also in detention, and Zhao’s eight-year-old daughter has been left in the care of her elderly grandfather.
• Wang Zhe was expelled from the No. 1 Senior High School in Changtu County, Liaoning Province in February 2004 after openly objecting to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Wang Zhe and his mother went to the school on April 6 requesting that Wang Zhe be readmitted to the school, but the school headmaster reported the matter to the police, after which Wang Zhe was detained.
• Kang Jiaqi attended the Hengshui City Second Middle School in Hebei Province, where her mother was a teacher. But after Jiaqi’s father was detained for his Falun Gong beliefs, Jiaqi’s mother left home to avoid arrest, and Jiaqi was forced to withdraw from school.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which China ratified in 1992, declares that every child has the right to life, and that every country has the responsibility of ensuring the survival and development of its children. The Convention specifically states that countries shall not discriminate against any child on the basis of the child’s or the child’s parent’s race, religion, political opinion and other status, and that countries should “take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents.”
“Persecuting children on the basis of their or their parents’ beliefs is a fundamental violation of the rights of the child under international law,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The Chinese government should demonstrate its compliance with the Convention by ensuring that no child is subjected to torture, detention or loss of basic human rights because of the religious beliefs of themselves or their parents,” Liu Qing said.