AFP: Japanese husband of Falun Gong member urges Beijing to release his wife

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TOKYO, May 27 (AFP) - The husband of a 37-year-old Chinese member of the Falun Gong spiritual group called on China Monday to release his wife, who was arrested in Beijing last week along with two other Japanese [group] members. Yoko Kaneko has been held since Friday when the three were arrested while distributing material in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to protest the Chinese government's suppression of Falun Gong.

"We are trying to get any information about her through the Japanese foreign ministry, but we still don't know if she is dead or alive," Atsushi Kaneko, a 46-year-old Japanese businessman who is also a Falun Gong member, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Yoko, a Chinese citizen, whose Chinese name is Luo Rong, immigrated to Japan in 1999 and is a permanent resident of Japan. The couple married in 1998.

"I am determined to do whatever I can do for her release," he said, adding that he would keep requesting the Japanese government to press the Chinese authorities to release her as soon as possible.

Yoko Horie, 31, who was expelled from China to Japan at the weekend after being detained together with Kaneko, expressed fears for her safety and alleged she herself suffered brutal treatment at the hands of the Chinese police.

"Chinese police trod on my face," Horie told the conference, pointing to slight bruises on her cheek and neck she said she sustained when she was seized in the square. "Since the police treated a Japanese citizen like that, I can't imagine what their treatment of her could be," said Horie, who later displayed a T-shirt spotted with her blood, which she said was stained during her arrest.

The Japanese foreign ministry has promised to "try to do its best" but admitted the chances of her being immediately released were slim because of her Chinese nationality, according to Kaneko.

The three women are the latest in a string of overseas Falun Gong members who have come to Beijing in the past year to protest against China's nearly three-year-old ban against Falun Gong. Foreign nationals are usually expelled within a day but China has jailed overseas Falun Gong members who are still Chinese citizens for conducting Falun Gong activities.

Falun Gong was banned by China in July 1999 [...] and since then tens of thousands of Chinese Falun Gong members have been sent to labour camps and jails.


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