Inside Toronto: Daughter's love reaches across borders, behind bars
May. 11, 2003
Bo Li will not be spending this Mother's Day with the woman she looked up to all her life.
This Mother's Day, Li's mother, Xiuzhem Lu, will be spending her special day - and the next year - in a Chinese prison for her adherence to the Falun Gong spiritual movement banned by that country's government.
Li came to Canada three years ago and recently moved from Scarborough to downtown Toronto. Her mother stayed in her homeland because her teaching and practising Falun Gong were important to her.
"I was happy to see her recent change," once she started practising Falun Gong, Li said. "She was happier and healthier before she went to prison."
Li, in turn, was happy with the life she was living in Canada and encouraged her mother to join her.
"I sent her all the documents she needed and arranged for her to come here, but she couldn't get a passport," said Li, who believes her mother could live a free and happy life in Canada.
Instead, in 2001, Lu was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison by Chinese officials.
"My mother should be able to enjoy her life and retirement with her family," said Li, who has many happy memories of her mother while growing up in China.
"When I was little, we were very poor," said Li, who recalled that her family didn't have the money to buy her toys or even proper shoes for school. Even through the hard times, Li remembers her mother's positive attitude, and the love she had for Li and the children she taught at school.
"She dedicated her life to the school and her students, but I felt that she wasn't getting back what she was giving," Li said. "On the surface, my mother looks weak, but on the inside, in her heart, she is very strong."
Li has had no contact with her mother since she was imprisoned, so on this Mother's Day, Li would like her mother to know how much she loves and cares for her, and that she is always in her heart.
On this Mother's Day I would like to let you know how grateful I am to have had you as a parent. When I was growing up you were always there to guide me with great compassion and lots of humour. You were always so truthful and patient with me and I knew that I could always trust you completely.
I was always so proud of you. In your 30 years of teaching, you gave so much to your students and they seemed to love you as much as I did.
I was happy when you invited them home, sometimes, to have dinner with us. You treated them as your own children, but I was secretly proud and happy that I was your real child.
I always like to see the colourful greeting cards that you received from your students during the New Year's holiday - they were beautifully made and the words written in them expressed deep gratitude for you, for not only teaching them knowledge, but also teaching them how to be good people.
Mother's Day is coming and how I wish I could buy you some beautiful flowers, cook you some delicious food and buy you a special present. Just like you did for me when I was a little girl.
I was so looking forward to you coming to see my new country of Canada. We're free here Mom; we can practise in the parks openly, just like in the old days before the persecution started.
Remember I sent you all the required documents and you were so looking forward to seeing me again, but then you couldn't get a passport because you practised Falun Gong.
I will always remember how I felt the day Dad called to tell me that you were sentenced, without trial, to two years in Masanjia labour camp. I could feel the bottom falling out of my heart. I couldn't believe it. All you did was tell your friends that Falun Dafa was good and that the government was wrong to persecute it.
You are 59 years old, Mom, and you have served China and its people so well. You should be enjoying your retirement with your family. Gramma is 83 and she misses you very much and Dad has suffered so, from heartbreak and worry, that his health is very poor.
Our family had been so harmonious and happy and now it is torn apart, like millions of other families in China who have family members who practise.
Mom, even though I know the inhumane treatment you endure in Masanjia, I am so proud of you! You stand up to protect goodness and you refuse to give up your beliefs and go against your conscience, no matter what they do to you. You are truly living the universal principles of truth, compassion and tolerance. I am just so proud.
I wish you could receive this Mother's Day greeting, but I have no way to contact you and I don't even know how you are doing. Every night before I go to sleep I try to contact you in my mind, to give you hope and encouragement, to thank you for not giving in, for being strong and true like you have always been. I try to tell you that I am doing my best, Mom.
We all work so hard here trying to tell the people of the world what is happening to us in China. The Canadian people are all so kind-hearted. They truly care about human rights and the suffering of others. I see the sorrow in their eyes when they hear my story and cannot believe this is happening in 2003.
In North America, there was a man called Martin Luther King. Everyone respects him very much as he and his people endured much suffering. But he also stood up for truth, no matter what the cost. He said: "Evil only triumphs over good when good people do nothing."
Thank you for being a truly good person, Mom, and for resisting the evil by standing up for goodness, beauty and truth. Because of people like you, I believe our world will change beyond recognition.
Know that I am with you in every moment Mom, and know also, that we too shall also overcome one day.
Your loving daughter,
Bo (Lisa) Li
Category: Accounts of Persecution