Urgent Appeal: Falun Gong Practitioner “Disappeared” from Shanghai Airport en Route to United States
From Falun Dafa Information Center 03/04/2010
New York—A Falun Gong practitioner en route to reunite with his wife in the United States “disappeared” from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport over ten days ago and has not been heard from since, raising serious concerns over his safety. The Falun Dafa Information Center is urging the international community to take immediate action to discover his whereabouts and ensure his safety.
On February 18, 2010, Mr. Jiang Feng traveled to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport aiming to board Continental Airlines Flight #CO86 to Newark, where his wife was scheduled to meet him. The couple have been married for eleven years, but because of the Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong, have spent only a few months by each other’s side.
Jiang checked in at the ticketing counter at 2:55pm, two hours prior to the flight’s scheduled departure time. A friend who accompanied him to the airport reports witnessing him pass through the security checkpoint. When they parted ways, Jiang promised to call him after he boarded the plane. But he never called and has not been heard from since. Calls to his cell phone have gone unanswered.
“I went that evening to the airport, hoping to see Feng when he got off the plane so that we could finally live a normal life together,” says Jiang’s wife who also practices Falun Gong and is known publicly by the stage name "Mei Xuan" (her real name is being kept anonymous for security reasons). “Instead, when I arrived in Newark, I discovered that he never made it onto the flight. Who knows what they might be doing to him right now.”
Inquiries with the airline confirmed that Jiang did not board the plane and that his luggage was removed from the aircraft because he never arrived at the gate. Given Jiang’s past imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong and the recent harassment of other family members, it is widely believed that Jiang was abducted by security agents and is being interrogated and abused in custody.
A reporter from the Chinese language Epoch Times newspaper called the Shanghai Pudong International Airport shortly after news of Jiang’s disappearance emerged. In one conversation, two airport employees said that they were unaware of the specific incident, but also stated that “when the 610 Office or State Security Bureau takes someone away, we do not know, and they do not need to go through us.”
“How does a perfectly healthy, 42-year-old man just disappear without a trace between the security checkpoint and boarding the plane?" asks Falun Gong spokesperson Erping Zhang. "This outrageous case exemplifies the Communist Party's complete lawlessness in its treatment of Falun Gong practitioners."
“It is the responsibility of the airport and Chinese authorities to immediately reveal Jiang’s whereabouts, release him, and enable him to board the next available flight from Shanghai to Newark.”
Previous history of persecution
Jiang began practicing Falun Gong in 1992, eventually serving as a volunteer coordinator for practice sites in Anhui province. Mei Xuan began practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and the couple was married two years later. With the launch of the persecution against Falun Gong shortly thereafter, the two were detained because they were known as active members of the Falun Gong community. Mei Xuan was released but Jiang was “sentenced” in a sham trial to three years in prison. During his detention, he was subjected to torture and Mei Xuan was able to visit him on only one occasion.
Days before Jiang’s release in November 2002, Mei Xuan was herself detained while meeting with a friend. She was subsequently “sentenced” to four years in prison after a sham trial because of her identity as a Falun Gong practitioner. While in custody, she was subjected to severe beatings, sleep deprivation, and long hours of forced labor.
After her release in 2006, Mei Xuan fled to the United States. In 2007, she joined the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts (link) and began touring with the company as an erhu soloist, receiving widespread acclaim for the moving expressiveness of her performances. Since then, police officers have repeatedly visited Mei Xuan’s brother and sister at their workplaces, urging them to pressure her to leave Shen Yun. In November 2009, her mother, who is also a Falun Gong practitioner, was taken to a “brainwashing” center.
With its mission to revive Chinese artistic traditions and spiritual heritage, Shen Yun’s shows include classical Chinese dance, vocalists and instrumental soloists like Mei Xuan. Some pieces portray ancient legends as well as events in present-day China, such as the persecution of Falun Gong.
Since their inception, the Chinese regime has consistently attempted to interfere with Shen Yun performances, including by intimidating and harassing its artists’ relatives in mainland China (for a detailed list of incidents and evidence see here). Such attempts originate in the Communist Party's fears of some Shen Yun performances depicting what is happening to Falun Gong in modern day China and its reviving the very cultural traditions that the Party has sought to destroy since assuming power in China in 1949.
The Falun Dafa Information Center urges:
International media and human rights groups to further investigate the whereabouts of Mr. Jiang Feng.
Elected representatives to write to the Chinese authorities to demand the immediate release and safe travel of Mr. Jiang to the United States.
Concerned citizens around the world to write to their elected officials and/or the local Chinese embassy to encourage action on Mr. Jiang’s case.
Note to editors: Mei Xuan is available for interviews upon request.