My name is Ningfang Chen. My husband, Rutang, and I are participating in this global walk event to call for urgent help. My family has experienced first hand the brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China, which has ruined thousands of people's lives. At this very moment, my son, Gang Chen, is being held in a forced labor camp in China.

We had such good lives just two years ago. My husband and I could spend time with our two beautiful children; we had both retired after 33 years in China's most prestigious philharmonic orchestra; my son had a great job and a beautiful wife; my daughter was having a successful career in the United States; and we practiced Falun Gong openly and freely. Falun Gong had given all of us tremendous joy, harmony, and health... Everything was going so well. But suddenly, in July of 1999, the persecution of Falun Gong began, and our lives were turned upside down.

The police began harassing us, our phone was tapped, and my husband, my son, and I were all detained for 30 days simply for making appeals for Falun Gong at the National Appeals Bureau--a legal right. Then in June of last year, over a dozen police showed up at our house in the middle of the night and dragged my son Gang and me from our beds, sparing my husband, and completely ransacked our home for the second time. They took everything of ours related to Falun Gong without providing any reason. They took us away, and my son still has not been released to this day. Instead, they have kept him locked up in a forced labor camp for 14 months now. All we get are bits and pieces of information from the labor camp, since they try to block all information from getting out. We have learned that he has been badly beaten. They tied him up with his head pressed against his legs, then beat him and left him under a bed. He has been tortured through denial of sleep; once they didn't let him sleep at all for over 10 days. He has lost a lot of weight, and his hair has turned gray, even though he's only 29. I can only imagine what he's going through.

How can any mother bear to learn this kind of news about her child! What is most painful is that he has not done anything wrong.

So what is he being punished for? He's being punished for practicing Falun Gong, something that brings him good health and a happier life, and that teaches him to be a good person. He's being punished for exercising rights provided by the Chinese constitution. He's being punished for remaining true to what he believes in--the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, the principles of Falun Gong.

Not a single day goes by when I don't think about my son and how he is suffering. I worry deeply about what may happen to him next. It's painful to remember his bright smile, his sturdy figure, his hearty laughter, and his sweet expressions...

I also know that my son is only one of the thousands of sons and daughters who have undergone similar, cruel treatment just for practicing Falun Gong. I know that many of them have suffered even more than my son. As of today two-hundred seventy-four of these sons and daughters have been murdered by China's authorities, and many, many more have been illegally forced into mental hospitals, jails, and labor camps where they are tortured and treated worse than we can imagine.

All of this is what makes this walk so important. It gives hope to my family and many others. Let's give my son and the thousands of other sons and daughters back their freedom, let's give them back their lives. They need our help.

It's truly a privilege to join these walkers on a journey to call for action to rescue the Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted in China. And I would like to thank all of you present here for your support and continued help. I believe that the evil done in China will not be able to continue once everyone in the world learns the truth about what's happening.

Thank you.

Category: Rallies & Protests