Volume 95, Issue 80

Wednesday, March 6, 2002
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Fifteen seek seat on S.S. Sinal

"Thank you, with your help I'm free"

Rock lays smack down on 'crummy' facilities

Ally McBeal influence felt in law schools

Stee-rike two at Halifax's Dalhousie

No charges in fatal accident

From the Editor

"Thank you, with your help I'm free"

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

With a big "thank you Canada" sign in hand, Falun Gong practitioner Shengli Lin visited Western's Amnesty International group on Monday to show his appreciation for support that helped lead to his release from a Chinese labour camp.

Speaking through interpreter Benjamin Yang, Lin, formerly a financial analyst in Shanghai, recounted his tale of imprisonment by the Chinese government for following Falun Gong.

Falun Gong is a practice that teaches well-being through a combination of exercise and adherence to the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, he said.

Lin said he and his wife went to a government appeals office in Dec. 1999 to clarify misconceptions about Falun Gong – which is banned in China – and was detained by police for 17 days. His wife was immediately deported because she is a Canadian citizen, he said.

The next month, Lin said he put together a petition asking the Chinese government to allow Falun Gong to be practiced peacefully and was arrested again.

"I refused to answer their questions, so they tortured me," he said, showing with his hands the dimension of a small chair he was forced to sit on every day from morning to night.

Lin said he was sentenced in Mar. 2000 to spend a year and a half in a labour camp. He was due to be released on July 23, 2001 but said his imprisonment was extended for another six months, with no reason given.

He was finally released on Jan. 23, 2002 and arrived in Canada on Feb. 25, where he was reunited with his wife.

Lin is currently trying to visit and thank politicians and organizations that he said helped secure his freedom.

"I'm a lucky person because, with your help, I'm free," Lin said. However, many fellow practitioners in China are still being persecuted, he added.

In a September meeting for Western's Amnesty group, Yang, who knows Lin's wife, demonstrated the practice of Falun Gong and presented Lin's case. He then asked group members to sign a petition in support of his release.

"[Lin] is reminding us that what we do does help somebody," said Paula Weik, co-chair of communications for Western's Amnesty group.

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