"Mother, Why Can't We Return to China?"
(Clearwisdom.net) One day in May at a Kansas Chinese school, children were all discussing some exciting news: With the support of the Shandong Province Science Association, students and teachers would go to a summer camp in China. Only the 8 year-old Qianqian and 6 year-old Chunzhi were silent.
Qianqian and Chunzhi's parents practice Falun Gong, and the Chinese Consulate has refused to renew their passports.
Their Passport Extension Was Rejected
Kuang Jiyun and Wang Dongmei have been in the United States for over ten years. They currently reside in Kansas City. In January 2004, it was time to renew their passports. Mr. Kuang followed the guidelines on the website of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago and filled out the application forms and sent them in with the appropriate fees.
The mail went out on January 5. Two weeks passed, but they did not get their passports back. Rather, someone from the consulate phoned Kuang at his office. The person did not explain why the consulate had not sent back their passports, but instead asked, "Are you still practicing Falun Gong?" Kuang replied, "Sure." The person asked him to think twice about it and hung up.
In the beginning of February, the consulate personnel again called and asked Kuang if he still practiced Falun Gong. Kuang confirmed that he did. The person asked him if he had ever gone in front of the consulate to demonstrate, and if he went to protest during Jiang Zemin's visit. Kuang declined to answer his questions, saying that was irrelevant to the passport extension.
After also not receiving any response from the Chinese consulate, his wife, Wang Dongmei, called the consulate to ask about her passport around February 10. A Mr. Zhou answered the phone. After checking Wang's name in the computer, he switched the topic immediately to Falun Gong. Wang patiently explained to him the benefits that she'd gotten both physically and mentally after practicing Falun Gong. The talk lasted for over forty minutes. Afterwards, Zhou told her that he could not make decisions on passport issues and needed to ask his superiors. He asked her to keep waiting.
"Give up Falun Gong, Then You Can Have Your Passport"
The visa department of the Chicago Chinese Consulate came to Kansas City to help local overseas Chinese with their passport extensions. Wang Dongmei went to inquire about hers too. In the beginning, a Mr. Han treated her quite nicely, but as soon as he heard the words "Falun Gong," he changed his attitude and ignored Wang. Wang then turned to an older woman who was also from the consulate. The woman asked her why she practiced Falun Gong. Wang explained to her that her husband had many illnesses and they fought a lot in the past. After practicing Falun Gong, he turned into a different person. His illnesses went away, and the family became harmonious. The woman was surprised, "Is Falun Gong truly that powerful?" Then she added, "Why don't you find another Qigong to practice. If you stop practicing Falun Gong, I will extend your passport right away."
This clearly demonstrated that the sole reason that the Chinese Consulate did not extend Mr. and Mrs. Kuang's passports was because they practice Falun Gong.
Righteous People Offer Their Help
Many righteous people condemned the Chinese Consulate's behavior after learning about this case.
On April 2, State Senator Stephen R. Morris wrote to Mr. Xhu Jinzhong, the Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, requesting that he approve the extensions of and return the passports to those Falun Gong practitioners who had their passports withheld. He wrote:
Honorable Consul Xhu:
The reason that I am writing this letter to you is to request the immediate return of the passports of Ms. Wang Dongmei and her husband, Kuang Jiyun. To my knowledge, the couple sent in their passports together with all the necessary documentation and fees to your consulate for an extension in January. You believe that you can withhold their passports because they practice Falun Gong. But what you are doing is not acceptable in the United States of America. In a civilized society, we cannot tolerate the persecution of innocent people just because of their beliefs. Please arrange to have Ms. Wang and her husband's passports extended and returned to them. Your prompt response is appreciated.
An attorney working for Mr. and Mrs. Kuang also wrote to the Chinese Consulate to express his concerns and request that the consulate return their passports.
Their Passports Were Returned But Not Extended
In early April, Wang Dongmei called Mr. Zhou at the Chinese Consulate to ask him if they had received the letters from Senator Morris and their attorney. Zhou said yes, but whether they were going to deal with it or not still depended on the decision of higher authorities. Wang asked him what "higher authorities"? Zhou answered, "China." Wang asked, "Where in China?" "Beijing," said Zhou. Wang asked, "Which department in Beijing?" Zhou replied, "[I] cannot tell you." She then asked him how long it would take, and the answer was, "Two more weeks."
But they did not hear anything from the consulate until two months later. On June 24, Mr. and Mrs. Kuang received their old passports in the mail, but there were no extensions.
Withholding Passports for No Apparent Reason Damages China's Image
Many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Kuang have learned about the incident. Many Chinese friends felt that it was utterly ridiculous for their government to do such a thing. One of the Ph.D students who planned to go back to China to work after getting his degree changed his mind after hearing this.
An older woman living next door to Mr. and Mrs. Kuang, who admires Chinese culture, found this unbelievable. "Mr. and Mrs. Kuang are both very nice people. The Chinese Consulate confiscated their passports just because of their belief." She said that she would not dare go to China anymore. She even had a thought that the Chinese government might abduct her for questioning one day.
The Persecution Occurs in China and Also Abroad
Many people thought that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners occurred only in China. They thought that overseas, especially in a democratic country such as the United States, the Chinese government was not able to do anything. In reality, the fact that passport withholding occurs routinely in seventeen countries around the world demonstrates that the persecution of practitioners has been occurring overseas as well.
In a prison or detention center, the question that a prison guard most often asks a Falun Gong practitioner is, "Do you still practice Falun Gong?" If the answer is no, then they'll release you. If the answer is yes, then they'll continue with their beatings. Overseas, the same question is also being asked. If the answer is no, then they'll give you your passport. If the answer is yes, then they'll just make you wait.
Although the persecution manifests in different ways, the essence is the same. That is, they apply all kinds of the dirtiest measures to try to force a person to give up his or her belief.
Wang Dongmei feels that the persecution has been very barbaric both in China and abroad. During her negotiations with the Chinese Consulate for her passport extension, she found that one was not able to reason with the consulate personnel. They didn't care whether or not your children could go to China for a summer camp. They didn't care that you would not be able to visit your elderly parents. They didn't care that without your passport, all sorts of inconveniences would occur in your daily life as well as in your place of work. As long as you insist in your belief in "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance," the principles of Falun Gong, they will withhold your passport.
A passport identifies a person and represents his right to be a citizen. This right comes with his birth. The Chinese Consulate has no right to deprive a Chinese person of his right to be a citizen of his own country. Mr. and Mrs. Kuang urge more righteous people to stand up to help end this persecution of "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance."
July 2, 2004