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Taiwan/US: John/Jane/Sharon/Yaning

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

posted by Jane @ 12:22 AM    0 comments

Friday, December 21, 2007

Solis joins call for Beijing woman's release

Kenneth Todd Ruiz, staff writer of Pasadena Star News
Article Launched: 12/20/2007 02:04:08 PM PST

PASADENA -- A second member of Congress wrote a letter on behalf of a local woman whose mother is being held in a Beijing labor camp.

Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monta, sent letters Thursday to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on behalf of Baldwin Park resident Yaning Liu urging the release of her mother Shuying Li, 64.

Li has spent the past year in a labor re-education camp after police found literature related to a spiritual practice banned by the Communist government.

"If Ms. Li has been detained solely because of her religious beliefs and her interest in the Falun Gong, I respectfully request that you release her immediately based on the humanitarian issues involved," Solis said in her letter to the Chinese president.

Her letters were sent one day after Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, sent a similar written request through the Chinese Embassy.

Solis asked Rice to investigate Li's detention and consider using official diplomatic channels to push for Li's release.

Copies of the letter can be seen at reporter Kenneth Todd Ruiz' blog at www.insidesocal.com/pasadenapolitics.

posted by Yaning Liu @ 6:58 AM    0 comments

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Congressional letters for Yaning's mother Shuying Li

Letter from U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff to Chinese President Hu Jintao:
Letter from Congresswoman Hilda Solis to Chinese President Hu Jintao:


Letter from Congresswoman Hilda Solis to the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:


posted by Yaning Liu @ 11:43 AM    0 comments

Schiff lobbies China to free woman

Mother held in labor camp
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writer of Pasadena Star News
Article Launched: 12/19/2007 10:59:55 PM PST

A copy of Rep. Schiff's letter

PASADENA - After months of pleading for help to secure her mother's release from a Chinese labor camp, a local woman's persistence has paid off.

In a letter sent to President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, called for the release of Shuying Li, 64.

Li is being held at the Beijing Women's Labor Camp, where she was sent for practicing a spiritual tradition banned by the Communist government, according to Li's daughter, Yaning Liu of Baldwin Park.

"If the only charges against Ms. Li are based on her potential interest in Falun Gong, I urge her immediate release on humanitarian grounds," Schiff wrote in the letter.

Schiff issued a separate statement Wednesday afternoon, expanding on his letter.

"I deplore action in China and elsewhere that inhibits an individual's right to free expression, and want to encourage the Chinese leadership to release anyone being held on the basis of their religious beliefs," Schiff stated.

On Dec. 15, 2006, Beijing police arrested Li after finding literature pertaining to Falun Gong.

The mainland government banned Falun Gong for "advocating superstition and spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating disturbances, and jeopardizing social stability," according to a

July 22, 1999, report from China's state-run media.
In recent months, Liu had joined a coalition of groups protesting the inclusion of a Beijing Olympic Games float in next month's Rose Parade because of China's rights record.

That record is getting worse, according to the U.S. Department of State's most recent report on China.

In the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing has cracked down on dissidents, reporters and its own citizens, jailing many without trial, according to international human rights organizations.

"Keen to present its best face to the world during the prestigious sporting event, the city is racing against time to improve the behavior of local residents," according to a Wednesday report from the People's Republic of China's official press agency.

Calling it "administrative detention," Chinese authorities have sent about 250,000 Chinese into so-called "education through labor" camps without trial, according to Amnesty International.

Torture is commonly employed, according to Amnesty.

Last month, Schiff complained in writing to the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games that China has not kept its Olympic promises.

"Despite explicit promises made by Chinese government officials in 2001, the Chinese government has not taken serious steps to expand basic rights and freedom," his letter said.

Citing Li's age, Schiff conveyed Liu's concern that her mother's "health is suffering due to the harsh conditions within the Labor Camp."

Liu said she was excited and happy Monday night when a member of Schiff's staff called with news the congressman would lend his aid.

"Among all the officials I contacted so far, Congressman Schiff is the only one who responded to my plea and offered help," she said.

Liu lived in Pasadena when she made her request and has since relocated to Baldwin Park.

Several other members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have not responded to her requests, she said, including her Baldwin Park representative, Rep Hilda Solis, D-El Monte.

"I basically begged her to help me, and I seldom beg," Liu said.

Solis' Chief of Staff Don Lyster said that request hadn't made it up to his boss and that it was now being evaluated and investigated for a pending determination.

He didn't rule out the possibility Solis would join in calling for Li's release.

Liu is optimistic public pressure will help secure her mother's release.

After all, she said, Chinese authorities recently freed an elderly couple after their daughter, Cher Fu, convinced congressional representatives from her home state of Washington to lobby on her behalf.

After initially being referred by Schiff to the U.S. Department of State, Liu said she was surprised and grateful that Pasadena Councilwoman Jacque Robinson followed up with the congressman's office.

"If it was me, I'd want help as well, no matter where it came from," Robinson said. "It's not like I had 100 people calling and coming to my office asking for help."

Robinson said the action didn't run counter to the positions of the city and the mayor, who recently declined to help Liu.

And, she said, Liu kept coming to council meetings and didn't quit,

"She was persistent," Robinson said.

todd.ruiz@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444

www.insidesocal.com/pasadenapolitics

posted by Yaning Liu @ 11:40 AM    0 comments

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Woman works to free mother held in China

Bogaard refuses request to help
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writer of Pasadena Star News
Article Launched: 12/16/2007 12:46:39 AM PST

On the evening of Dec. 12, 2006, three policemen from the Shuangyushu Police Substation in Beijing took Shuying Li into custody for possessing Falun Gong literature, according to her daughter Yaning Liu of Baldwin Park.

PASADENA - No longer standing quietly at the edge of international protests over China's human rights record leading up to next year's Olympic Games in Beijing, Yaning Liu holds up a simple sign: "Help free my Mom."

A year ago Saturday, three police officers entered her parents' home in Beijing, searched it and, after finding Falun Gong literature, arrested her mother, Shuying Li, 64, Liu said.

It's impossible to independently verify specific details of Liu's account. She provided a copy of what she said was a "receipt" of her mother's arrest, the only documentation Liu says her family has ever received from authorities in Beijing.

Calls and e-mails to the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles' Political and Press Section were not returned.

But when the objections to China's rights record turned local in the summer, Liu, an otherwise deeply introverted Baldwin Park resident who works for a downtown L.A. law firm, found herself among the steady stream of people showing up at Pasadena City Council meetings to speak against a Beijing 2008 entry in next year's Rose Parade.

She has also attended a number of protests at the Tournament of Roses and City Hall. Next, she says, she'll join Falun Gong adherents on New Year's Day, turning their backs as the entry passes them during the parade.

Since China banned Falun Gong in 1999, reportedly after thousands of adherents had a silent protest around several government buildings, followers claim they have been falsely arrested and detained without trial and even tortured.

For Liu, the Beijing float controversy has provided an opportunity for her to focus media scrutiny and public pressure to help secure her mother's release. If that makes her an opportunist, she says, then so be it.

"I'm nobody," Liu said in a recent interview. "After my mother was arrested, I wrote to the newspaper and nobody replied."

The police who took her mother never said where they were taking her, she said. More than a month passed before her father received notice. She'd been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in a labor re-education camp.

There was no due process, no trial, no evidence presented, according to Liu.

As this story was being prepared, Liu said her 69-year-old father had called with disturbing news. Four government officials had paid him a visit.

"They asked my father to talk to me and try to persuade me from not talking to the press and interrupting their Olympic celebration," she said.

According to Liu, her mother is being held inside Beijing Women's Labor Camp.

She could be among about 250,000 Chinese now being held under administrative detention, according to a rough estimate by Amnesty International.

"They are not charging these people, they are not giving them a trial. All of this is in the hands of local police, who can do whatever they want," said Suzanne Wright, an Amnesty International specialist on Chinese affairs.

And they are commonly tortured, she added.

Media reports indicate such detentions by members of the Chinese government are increasing, ostensibly to remove signs of dissent before the international press corps arrive next year.

"Chinese authorities in Beijing have said they want to possibly extend the use of re-education through labor to clean up Beijing before the Olympics," Wright said. "They're using the Olympics as an excuse to continue using an illegal form of detention."

According to Liu, this was not her mother's first arrest. In 2000, she was sentenced to three years in prison for practicing Falun Gong, Liu said.

Jie Li of Alhambra was 23 when she was sentenced alongside Li, she said. She recalled the retired educator as a "very warm-hearted" woman, who helped her survive while in detention.

"She helped others too, even criminals under the age of 18," Jie Li said. "She helped teach them, because she's a teacher. She teached them some math and so on."

In June 2006, Jie Li said, both of them were moved to a detention center in Xicheng, Pasadena's sister city.

It's that relationship that Liu has asked Mayor Bill Bogaard to leverage, given Beijing's interest in using the Rose Parade to help kick off its Olympic celebrations.

For weeks, Liu had asked Bogaard to use his relationship with officials in Xicheng to urge for her mother's release.

Responding by e-mail, he declined last month.

"I want you to know that I understand fully your concern and desire for help, from any and every source, in attaining your mother's release," Bogaard wrote. "This must be a very difficult time for you and for all of the members of your family."

Bogaard on Friday said granting her request would be unlikely to have an impact and would open the gates to similar requests that would "discredit" his role as mayor.

"I'm elected for local affairs, and if I get into the business of pleading on behalf of every deserving person in the San Gabriel Valley, I am confident it will discredit my role as mayor of Pasadena," he said, adding he's resolved to focus solely on domestic matters.

Bogaard was instrumental in bringing the Beijing float to the parade. Visiting Beijing several years ago as part of the sister city program, he committed Pasadena's aid to that effort without seeking consensus from the City Council.

That crossed the line into advocating for Chinese interests, Liu contends.

"It's hypocritical," she said. "When he invited the float, he must have known what was happening in China. But now, even after everything he's heard, he seems to be abandoning his conscience. It's no excuse to say there's too many lives to be saved."

Shuying todd.ruiz@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444

www.insidesocal.com/pasadenapolitics

posted by Yaning Liu @ 11:45 PM    0 comments

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Human Rights Day declared

Mayor Bogaard responds to critics of China float in Rose Parade
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writer of Pasadena Star News

posted by Yaning Liu @ 12:40 PM    0 comments

Friday, December 7, 2007

'Too many lives to save?'

Activists and Mayor Bill Bogaard pay separate visits to Pasadena’s human rights billboard

By Joe Piasecki

ill Bogaard just had to look. About 90 minutes before activists officially unveiled a billboard decrying human rights abuses in China, Pasadena’s mayor on Monday was heading to a meeting in Los Angeles, but instead turned north on Arroyo Parkway, he said, to be among the first to catch a glimpse.

The billboard, a depiction of the iconic interlocking Olympic rings as handcuffs with the words “Beijing 08” in big and red letters underneath, was designed by Reporters Without Borders, a group critical of China’s suppression of journalists and Internet users as well as plans for the Rose Parade to include a float representing that country and its role as host of the coming Summer Games — a float that Bogaard personally helped get into the parade.

“Today, China is the world’s biggest prison for journalists and cyber dissidents. Censorship is widespread,” said Lucie Morillon, who is in charge of the press freedom group’s US affairs and flew in for the unveiling of the billboard.

“The Olympic Games are not just a sports event, but a celebration of freedom — and too many dissidents are not going to be able to take part in this celebration because they are in jail in China,” she continued. “Reporters Without Borders does not condone the presence of the Beijing 2008 float at the Rose Parade because we understand it could be used as a propaganda tool by the Chinese regime, and we’re not comfortable with that.”

Bogaard, however, is perhaps the float’s highest-profile supporter. Although it has made him a target for criticism from a coalition of religious and political activists, Bogaard — who was not expected to attend the billboard’s unveiling — defends his position as a difference of opinion over the meaning of the controversial float and the role of city officials in what he describes as international affairs.

“I understand those who criticize me because of supporting the float, but I’m on a different track because I say the float is to celebrate the Olympics, which the Rose Parade has a long tradition

of doing, and not intended to validate or approve the country of China … or any conduct we would all recognize as inappropriate,” said Bogaard.

One of his critics is Yaning Liu, an area woman who asked Bogaard to personally send a letter to Chinese officials advocating the release of her 64-year-old mother from a labor camp where she is being held for illegal religious practices. It was a request Bogaard recently declined.

“It’s been a difficult time,” said Bogaard of the float controversy, “because my fundamental thinking is that neither I nor the city have the competence to engage in international diplomacy at the level and with the impact that [activists] want.”

Since the Tournament of Roses announced this summer that American business interests including the Pasadena-based Avery Dennison Corp. would be sponsoring a float celebrating the Beijing Olympics, Bogaard and the council have been pressed to speak out against the imprisonment and torture of those in China whose religious and political activities are deemed illegal by the country’s communist government.

Starting with protests by local practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement suppressed by Chinese officials, a coalition of local anti-float activists has grown over the past six months to include Tibetan and Burmese Americans, the Visual Artists Guild, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, labor activist Bob McCloskey and even a local Catholic priest.

“I’m here really as a voice for the voiceless, for those people who suffer on a daily basis just to practice their faith in freedom like we do here in Pasadena,” said the Rev. Gerard O’Brien, pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on Orange Grove Boulevard, who spoke Monday in front of the billboard.

In China, Catholics who are loyal to the Vatican have been imprisoned and allegedly even killed for practicing outside of the government-sanctioned church.

Photos of several jailed Catholic bishops, activists and reporters will be featured Saturday in a human rights exhibit at the Jackie Robinson Center being prepared by the Visual Artists Guild, which is asking parade viewers to turn their backs to the float as it passes.

The exhibit also loosely marks the 59th anniversary on Dec. 10 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document introduced by Bogaard and adopted by Pasadena City Council members last month as a response to activists but criticized for stopping short of a direct rebuke of China.

On Nov. 28, Bogaard mailed a copy of that declaration to Pasadena sister cities, including one in China, with a letter describing council actions as the outcome of people “expressing concerns that the presence of a float celebrating the Beijing Olympics 2008 would potentially embarrass Pasadena because of the frequent allegations of human rights violations in China.”

More telling at a personal level was the letter Bogaard sent to Liu, who like her mother practices Falun Gong.

“Some causes — like yours — cry out for correction. One is inclined to join in demanding change,” wrote Bogaard, but “… In the case of your mother, I have no reason to believe that my communication will have any impact on the recipient.”

In the letter, Bogaard reiterates his belief that he was not elected to deal with international affairs. He also resolves to decline all similar requests in the future, believing he would be swamped with requests for an involvement in numerous matters that he’d find difficult to justify.

Liu said she felt Bogaard’s reluctance toward international activism contradicts his early support for efforts to bring the Beijing float to Pasadena, but was most disheartened by his other conclusion — that even if he did write the letter, it wouldn’t make a difference.

“How can you say there are too many lives to save?” she asked.

http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/article.php?id=5411&IssueNum=101

posted by Yaning Liu @ 1:52 PM    0 comments

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