(Minghui.org) In a letter to the chief of Guantao County Police Department in Hebei Province, China, Minnesota State Representative Steve Sandell asked for the immediate release of a local Falun Gong practitioner.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Rep. Sandell stated that the practitioner, Ms. Sun Lanying, should not be detained for practicing Falun Gong and should reunite with her family. Ms. Sun narrowly escaped during a police raid in June 2019 and became destitute until her recent arrest in Beijing on November 14, 2020. The police found her by going through surveillance video footage using facial recognition technology. Ms. Sun’s family and Falun Gong practitioners in the U.S. then contacted Rep. Sandell, who wrote the letter on November 20.
In his letter addressed to Hou Gengxiang, chief of Guantao County Police Department, Rep. Sandell said that the safety and human rights of citizens are extremely precious to everyone. As an elected representative of Minnesota, he wanted to ensure the basic rights of his voters. And he hoped the police in China could shoulder the same responsibility and honor.
He said that Ms. Sun’s detention in China has deprived her of her freedom of spiritual belief and personal freedom. Ms. Sun is the mother of a resident in Sandell’s district. Sandell stressed that it was Ms. Sun’s right to practice Falun Gong and her arrest worried her daughter. He described Ms. Sun as a peace-loving lady who concentrates on taking good care of her family. He hopes the police can help to ensure that she returns home safely and reunites with her family.
Sandell went on to say that no matter how different everyone’s profession, upbringing and beliefs are, they are all connected through humanity. He hoped the police can quickly release Ms. Sun and give her civil liberty back.
In the evening on June 3, 2019, fifteen officers in Guantao County broke into Ms. Sun’s home after her family refused to open the door. Ms. Sun managed to escape. The officers ransacked the place and confiscated her properties. The next day the police came back to harass her family and listed her as wanted in the police database.
The police deceived Ms. Sun’s family into going to the local police station on July 20, 2019. Instead of discussing her case as they promised, the police threatened the family and asked them to turn Ms. Sun in.
On July 30, 2019, Minnesota State House majority leader, Rep. Ryan Winkler, first wrote a letter to the Handan City officials in Hebei Province to express his concern for Ms. Sun’s safety.
A month later, on August 31, the father of Ms. Sun’s daughter-in-law, a Beijing resident, was harassed. The police asked if he knew Ms. Sun’s whereabouts and also asked for the contact information of Ms. Sun’s son.
On November 10, one of Ms. Sun’s neighbors, Ms. Zhang, was stopped by the police and asked if she was Ms. Sun.
A surveillance camera in a Beijing park captured Ms. Sun’s image on Nov 14, 2020. Through facial recognition technology, the police matched her information in the police database. The Beijing police arrested her and transferred her to Guantao County Police Department.
The police notified Ms. Sun’s family on November 19, saying that she was locked in Handan City Third Detention Center. The family refused to sign the paperwork and accused the police of making an illegal arrest. The police intimidated them and yelled “this is how Falun Gong cases are handled.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar's office also made phone calls to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, requesting their help to have Ms. Sun Lanying released.