Torture is Wrong
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Martin Luther King Jr.
All my life, compassion has been the foundation of my deeds. Starting with my grandmothers, who taught me about volunteering, and now with my own children, I try to express compassion for the smallest of creatures to the oldest of humans. I have always tried to speak out about issues that concern me, even when I knew it was not popular to do so.
With that said, I am posting a letter from an acquaintance here in Austin. I hope you will take the time to read and get involved. If not in this young woman’s struggle, then in some struggle that is affecting you and your community. Because I tell you, there is no way I am going to shut-up about this, and I hope you will raise your voice with me.
To understand the letters I have attached, I need to give you a little background. Back in October, our firm hired a promising young engineer who goes by the name Danielle Wang (her given name is Xiaodan Wang). As is our custom with new employees, by boss and I took her to lunch as part of her orientation, to get to know her a little and to make her feel relaxed in our office. Until that day, I knew very little of the Falun Dafa other than that they were one of many targets of persecution by the Chinese government. Danielle told us of how her father was in a Chinese prison and had been for 8 years. Her parents had divorced when she was young, and she opted to stay with her father whom she was very close to rather than follow her mother first to Australia and then to the USA. Her mother has since re-married and is living in San Antonio. Her mother’s status allowed Danielle the opportunity to gain a green card and attend the University of Texas in Austin. After her father was arrested, she worked hard to bring attention to his plight in the media and got a job as a translator for a Chinese/American newspaper. She staged a hunger strike in front of the Chinese embassy in Houston. She visited the offices of every politician she could think of and had them write letters to President Bush asking him to put more pressure on the Chinese government. She even inadvertently was the cause of national attention when she managed to wiggle her way to the front of a crowd of reporters attending a speech by then Governor George Bush during his campaign for president and asked him about his stance on China’s human rights violations as he was making his way out of the building. An AP reporter with a sensitive microphone picked up his response showing lack of awareness of this issue and the story was splashed around the national news for several days. These activities caught the attention of the Chinese government and she now cannot return to her homeland and become a torture victim in a Chinese jail. The long hand of the Chinese government reached all the way to Austin where their agents would videotape her and her friends practicing their Falun Dafa in the park as an intimidation tactic. She’s sure they were behind several breakins to her apartment because of the threatening graffiti they left behind in Chinese. Interested in her plight, I read a book on Falun Dafa and learned about what I find to be a very interesting practice blending physical movements (such as the more widely-known Tai Chi or yoga) with mental meditation techniques. It is an evolution of several different techniques from various oriental schools designed to elevate the mind and spirit with the goal of self-enlightenment and self-improvement. After reading that book, I now understand why a meditation practice would be such a threat to the Chinese government. Any practice that aims to teach the masses self-elevation and self-enlightenment has historically been a threat to political and religious institutions that prefer to retain such control for themselves. The government of China saw 10,000 practitioners quickly grow to 10 million in the late 1990’s and to halt further growth, threw all its leaders, including Danielle’s father, in jail. They followed that up with a disinformation campaign designed to discredit the practitioners as members of a dangerous cult. I’m including some web sites that Danielle has given me at the bottom of this email if you are interested in reading more about her plight. Danielle is but one girl against a powerful tyrannical government. She feels the urge to tell her story to as many people as she can, so I decided to help her by passing this on to you. I feel that first hand accounts give a human element to the story. I share an office with Danielle and am reminded every day of what an asset she is to the community. She is currently working on a new web site and I helped her scan some photos of her father. She recently was rejuvenated when she received a rare letter from her father. Letters take months to reach her and all correspondence between them is intercepted and rejected if there is even a hint of subversive language. Her aunts visit their brother whenever the Chinese government permits which is not frequent. They are guarded and have to pretend to try and persuade him to recant. He can’t tell them truthfully what his life is like, but they can see the bruises and the missing teeth. Danielle was so excited when she received the letter, that she has asked us to forward them to friends and family to spread her tale. I found the letter very poetic and lyrical. She told me that when she translates to English, she tries to capture some of the beauty of the rhythm of the words of her native language. I am also including her response. She is going to post both these letters on her web site, but the actual letter she sends her father will have to be edited first, otherwise, the Chinese government will never let him see it. If you are interested in more of Danielle’s story, I’m including some web sites that she gave me at the end of this email as well as the little note that she sent me with the letter. She’ll be attending a protest in New York this summer. If you or anyone you know are there or if you see it on the news, maybe you might pause and think of her story. Thank you for letting me take a few minutes of your time in reading this account.
Web sites about Danielle and her plight: