United States: Seventeen Missouri State Congressmen Call for Release of Cao Junping

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Seventeen Missouri State Congressmen recently wrote to Jiang Yikang, Governor of Shandong Province, China to request the immediate release of Falun Gong practitioner Cao Junping. They also wrote to President Obama to call for his voice of concern to Chinese President Hu Jintao, about human rights and Falun Gong practitioner Cao Junping.

Cao Junping, a Falun Gong practitioner in Weifang, Shandong Province, was illegally arrested one week before the Beijing Olympic Games. She has been detained in Qingzhou Detention Centre for eight months. The local government plans to file a lawsuit against her. She has been deprived of sleep for days during her detention. Her family wasn't allowed to visit her and was interfered with when trying to find an attorney for her. Her family was threatened to pressure Cao's daughter in the US, Pang Jin, to stop exposing the persecution of her mother.

Ms. Cao's experience has received wide attention from Missouri residents and the media. More than one thousand signatures in support of Cao Junping's release were collected within two days in St. Louis. More than one thousand five hundred signatures were collected at Missouri State University within four days. The university newspaper The Standard, reported on the rescue efforts three times. One report entitled, "Student's Family Faces Persecution in China" was the headline of the newspaper. News-Leader, the major newspaper in Springfield, also reported on the persecution. The largest local TV station, KY3 also reported on the persecution of Ms. Cao during the Olympic Games. Major radio station KMSU twice reported on the persecution of Ms. Cao.

The rescue efforts were supported by all levels of government in Missouri. One week after Cao Junping was taken into custody, Congressman Roy Blunt wrote to the Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong to request Ms. Cao's release as soon as possible.

In the letter to Shandong Governor Jiang Yikang, the seventeen Missouri State Congressmen said, "Today I became aware of the fact that Mrs. Cao Junping of Weifang City, Shandong province was arrested a week before the Beijing Olympics, and has been imprisoned ever since, without even being allowed to visit with her family members, simply because she practises Falun Gong. Regardless of these startling revelations about your city, I believe that you must want what is best for your country and your people, just like we do here in America. For this reason, I strongly urge you to make sure that your treatment of Mrs. Cao Junping and the other Falun Gong practitioners in your city strictly follows the rule of law and the international human rights treaties signed by your central government. I have asked Mrs. Cao's daughter, who lives in my state of Missouri, to keep me informed of the progress of her mother's case, and I trust she will do so. I look forward to the day that Mrs. Cao is released and reunited with her family once again."

The Congressmen wrote to President Obama stating, "One week before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party arrested Mrs. Cao simply because she practises Falun Gong. Since that day, police have held Mrs. Cao in custody and haven't allowed her family to visit her... In Weifang City alone, sources reveal that nearly 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners were taken to forced labour camps, 100 received different kinds of sentences, and over 93 died because of the persecution. The city of Weifang is an extremely dangerous place for Falun Gong practitioners... Our nation was founded upon safeguarding religious freedom and has led the way in protecting human rights and honoring diversity. Drawing from our history, we must fight for the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. I respectfully request that you voice your concern about religious freedom in China to President Hu. I respectfully request that your staff look into Mrs. Cao's case, and if possible, secure her release. Failing that, please, at least help to make sure that she is not ill-treated."

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