Falun Dafa Information Centre: Kidnapped Girl Rescued by Federal Agents Minutes Before Air China Take-off at JFK

Concerns Grow for Family in China, Now Facing Threat

NEW YORK - The Falun Dafa Information Centre disclosed Monday morning that 14-year-old Beijing native Youran Zhao has been successfully rescued, and is safe at this moment and unharmed, thanks to the tremendous efforts of U.S. homeland security officers and others. She is under the care and legal custody of her aunt and said to be recovering from the trauma. Zhao, as reported by the Centre (on February 2nd), had gone missing after declaring Saturday evening (around 5 pm) her intent to seek political asylum; she was on a tour of the northeastern U.S. with a group of students from China. She was said to be held against her will by Chinese tour leaders, acting on orders from China's notorious Public Security Bureau (PSB), sources had said. Harrowing events Sunday confirmed these allegations.

Federal authorities confirmed that Zhao, who practises Falun Gong, was missing from the tour group Sunday around noontime when several police apprehended tour chaperons on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tour chaperons refused to disclose Zhao's whereabouts, only insisting "She's not here" and that "other chaperons" had taken her somewhere. Investigators have since learned that the tour leaders, acting on orders from China's communist regime to kidnap her back to Beijing, had hastened her off to JFK Airport around 7:30 am Sunday, seeking to put her on the first available flight to China; Zhao's tour group, which remained in Boston on tour, was not scheduled to depart until February 13th.

On Sunday afternoon U.S. Customs officials at JFK Airport successfully identified Youran and the two Chinese chaperons who were attempting to smuggle Zhao out of America via Air China. The two chaperons and Zhao were held until her guardian and aunt, Ms. Xiufen Zhang of New Jersey, could arrive. Zhao and Zhang left under the protection of airport personnel after witnesses identified men believed to be Chinese agents who had been following Zhao.

The Information Centre wishes to express its gratitude to the many U.S. customs officials and police and others who assisted in this matter, and to call attention to the welfare of Zhao's family in Beijing, who have reportedly been threatened by PSB agents with jailing and banishment to China's gulag system.

Information Centre spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang, who was at the airport and assisted in the investigation, said Monday: "That Beijing's communist rulers feel threatened by a harmless girl who seeks only protection from religious persecution in a free, democratic country is a sad, and disturbing, reminder of the state of human rights in China today. If these are the actions they brazenly take on U.S. soil -- resorting to kidnapping -- one shudders to think how they treat believers inside China. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Zhao's remaining family in China, and call on media and rights groups to carefully monitor their situation."


Founded in 1999, the Falun Dafa Information Centre is a New York-based organisation that documents the rights violations of adherents of Falun Gong (or "Falun Dafa") taking place in the People's Republic of China. In July of 1999 China's autocratic Communist Party launched an unlawful campaign of arrests, violence, and propaganda with the intent of "eradicating" the apolitical practice; it is believed certain leaders feared the influence of the practice's 100 million adherents. The campaign has since grown in violence and scope, with millions having been detained or sent to forced labour camps. The Centre has verified details of over 2,900 deaths and over 63,000 cases of torture in custody. Falun Gong is a traditional-style Buddhist "qigong" practice, with roots in the Chinese heritage of cultivating the mind/body for health and spiritual growth.


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