Houston Chronicle: Falun Gong speak for those in China who 'are not seen'

Group is touring Texas and hoping to win the support of President Bush

Aug. 21, 2005, 12:57AM

Hong Kin Wong fled China in 2001, shortly after her husband was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criticizing the Chinese government.

She left behind her 2-year-old daughter, In Sin.

"It was very painful," said Wong, who left her daughter in her mother's care while she worked to bring In Sin to the United States. They were reunited last month.

Wong, a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual self-improvement belief system, is among 25 people touring Texas this weekend to raise awareness about China's orphaned children whose "tears are not seen and whose cries are not heard."

The group is spending most of this weekend traveling between Austin, Houston, College Station, Dallas and Waco, and ending up at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, in hopes he will help rescue children whose parents were persecuted.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit with Bush in mid-September.

Far-reaching effects

Falun Gong, introduced to the public in 1992, combines spiritual beliefs and physical exercise, and promotes health and inner peace. Millions practice it worldwide.

The Chinese government banned the movement in July 1999, [slanderous charge by Chinese Communist Party omitted]. The Chinese government has jailed and tortured thousands of practitioners and killed perhaps hundreds more, according to a U.S. State Department report. [Editor's note: as of August 21st, 2005, there have been 2,781 confirmed deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to persecution.]

The children of those practitioners have no one to care for them, and are often persecuted themselves, those protesting in Houston said Saturday. Some children live with their grandparents, while others are sent to orphanages. Countless children--precise numbers are hard to obtain--have been deprived of their educations, driven to homelessness, placed in adult prison cells and, in some cases, killed.

Local believers in Falun Gong say the weekend protests are the beginning of a coordinated effort to reunite children with their families or find ways to care for those who have been orphaned.

Yiyang Xia likened the Falun Gong children to the "Pedro Pan" children of Cuba.

Between 1960 and 1962 more than 14,000 Cuban children were sent by their parents to the United States. The parents wanted to spare their children from Cuban leader Fidel Castro's communist regime. They were known as the Pedro Pan children, a tag coined by a Miami news anchor in reference to Peter Pan.

"This is a worldwide campaign," Xia said. "We need to tell the Chinese government, 'You have already killed their parents, you should let them go.' The kids are innocent."

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