Let My Mum Go!
I met a Chinese woman on Friday whose story really touched me. Her parents were recently snatched from their home in Inner Mongolia by non-uniformed men and bundled into an unmarked car. They were taken to a detention centre, where theyve been held since early June.
Natalie she doesnt want her real name used in case of repercussions with the Chinese authorities was clearly desperate to do anything she could to help her parents.
No formal charges have yet been brought against them, but officials have told Natalies family that her parents were arrested because they follow the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. Even though its a peaceful religion that just combines a broadly buddhist philosophy with meditation and exercise, Falun Gong was outlawed as an evil cult by the Chinese authorities, ten years ago today. Since then thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted, arrested, detained and tortured. Falun Gong organisations say that thousands have died in custody.
Many are held in re-education through labour camps, where people can be detained for up to four years without any kind of trial. Conditions are harsh and forced labour for up to 16 hours a day is the norm.
Amnesty has issued an 'Urgent Action', asking people to write to the Chinese authorities demanding the release of Natalies parents, who are both 60 years old.
Natalie has been living in the UK for the last eight years (in Watford you can see the local papers article about her here) and she was looking forward to her mum and dad coming to visit her and the grandchildren next month. Now shes frantically trying to secure their release meeting her MP, starting a petition, going to 10 Downing Street to try to get the Prime Minister involved.
It was the photos she showed me of her mum and dad that really got to me just ordinary people, grinning as they posed with their grandchildren. Her worries about their health reminded me of my own concern for my parents heath now theyre getting on a bit. I suppose the fact that were basically all the same just underlines why we all deserve the same rights. And if anyone arrested my mum after her once-a-year Christmas trip to church, just like Natalie Id do everything that I could to get her out.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.