Zhiwen Wang was imprisoned for 15 years, most of it in Tianhe, a notorious labor camp in China’s northeast. During that time, Zhiwen was tortured and abused by prison authorities in an attempt to make him renounce his adherence to the spiritual-meditation practice of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.
Last year, Zhiwen was released, but in returning to his home city of Beijing, he found himself constantly monitored and harassed by security agents.
“By no means had he truly returned to a normal life, but given his grace and kindness as a Falun Dafa practitioner, he had let go of any ill feelings and bore no grudges against those who had mistreated him,” said his daughter Xiaodan “Danielle” Wang during her testimony to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China on December 8 in Washington, D.C.
“Despite the regime’s relentless effort to break his spirit, he remained with truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance guiding his life,” said Danielle, herself also a practitioner of Falun Gong, referencing the practice’s three core principles.
Since her father has been imprisoned, Danielle, a civil engineer living in Texas, has conducted a campaign with her husband Jeff Nenarella calling for Zhiwen’s release and for the end of the persecution of Falun Gong that has been waged by China’s ruling communists since 1999.
See their most recent video here from their YouTube channel FreeZhiwenWang:
A year before the persecution began, Danielle went to the U.S. to further her studies. She had been practicing Falun Gong with her father beginning in 1992.
In her most recent testimony — she has made four to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission – Danielle described her and her husband’s bid to get her father out of China and to freedom.
Early this year, her father received his passport and in July, Danielle and Jeff went to China assist him through the legal immigration process so to get him to America.
“He had all his documents in order and a new passport ready to go. What should have been a straightforward trip became a nightmare of spying, intimidation, and harassment,” Danielle told the commission, which was chaired by Representative Christopher H. Smith and Senator Marco Rubio.
“To even meet with my father, he had to evade the constant monitoring of three newly installed agents outside his home in Beijing,” she said, emphasizing that they were doing nothing wrong.
On August 1, the three of them flew to the southern port city of Guangzhou to conduct the required immigration process at the U.S. Consulate. There they found the intimidation ramped up, including an obvious and heavy presence of Chinese security around the consulate. Still they were not perturbed.
“After our successful immigration interview, we were followed by car and on foot. When we exited our taxi over a mile from the consulate, there were undercover agents watching us almost immediately,” said Danielle.
“My father was the first to notice an agent taking his photo. It got to the point that I had to confront the undercover agents so my dad and husband could leave without being followed,” she said.
“We thought we had made it back without being followed, but there was a suspicious man waiting in the lobby where we were staying when we got back as well.”
After they picked up the approved immigration visa the next day, the monitoring became harassment when 10 police and undercover agents tried to force their way into their hotel room that night. Outside on the street, she said, there were a further 20 or so agents.
“The police made up various excuses as to why they were there, but it was clear that their goal was to take away my father,” Danielle said.
“We refused to let them in and my husband called the consulate for help.”
The police and agents finally gave up, she said.
The next day, the three made the hour and a half trip to the city of Dongguan where they planned to take a ferry to Hong Kong. On the way, they were followed and at the ferry terminal she said security agents were waiting for them.
“When we tried to exit through customs, they said my father’s passport had been canceled and they cut the corner off,” she said. “This destroyed the usefulness of the passport, but also shattered everything we had worked so hard for over the past 17 years,” she said.
“Despite the tremendous pressure, stress, and uncertainty, my father told me that we must not blame them and we must carry ourselves like practitioners.”
With her father returning in Beijing — where agents are camped outside his front door 24 hours a day — Danielle and her husband are continuing her campaign to help her father leave China and are petitioning U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for assistance.
If you would like to help out, sign the petition today.
Watch SWOOP FILMS’ award winning short documentary film on the persecution of Falun Gong in China: