Ma Ruimei and her husband, Ding Yuande, were arrested on May 12, 2023. Ma was freed on bail, Ding is still in prison. Their son is relentlessly fighting for their freedom. We interviewed him.
by Marco Respinti
All cases of religious persecution are similar, yet all are also unique. They are similar, or analogous, in their dynamics and horrors, and in the suffering of the victims. But they are also unique, not only because details and circumstances obviously differ, but because human beings are not numbers only. They are real, and all are irreplaceable. This is why, when one human being suffers, all humanity suffers. When one human being is persecuted or dies, an intimate part of every one of us also experiences persecution and death.
This is the story of a couple of spouses and parents who are persecuted for their faith in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by the hatred expressed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against all beliefs, especially those of the spiritual group they belong to, Falun Gong. They are Ma Ruimei (born October 7, 1967) and her husband Ding Yuande (born October 19, 1963).
Between 5 and 6 am of May 12, 2023, as I learned by interviewing their son who lives in Berlin, Germany, Ding Lebin, more than ten law enforcement agents stormed his parents’ tea plantation. No one could really see them coming, or guess their intentions, since they were wearing civil plainclothes. The squad was supported by Xia Jingde, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary of Yanjiazhuang Village, in Wu Lian County, Rizhao city, Shandong province, PRC, where the couple lived. “The police officers,” Ding Lebin explained, “ordered my parents to stop working and cooperate with them for investigation. Their cellphones were immediately confiscated, and my father’s device was forcibly shut down.”
“When they were abducted, I wasn’t present,” Ding Lebin added. Later, he learned that his parents were handcuffed and pushed back to their home. “As the policemen were inspecting the edifice,” the couple’s son recalls, “I was calling my mother just to know how they were doing. Mum told me: ‘Bad guys came into the house. They handcuffed me. My hands are numb now.’” Then, she hung up after 33 seconds. “I couldn’t reach my parents anymore,” Ding Lebin said.
It came out that the police went on investigating until around 10 am, confiscating many Falun Gong books and pieces of spiritual literature. “My parents were arrested, then silence,” Lebin commented. “Nobody knew where they were being detained.” He immediately decided to go public, with a presence of mind that may have saved his parents from a crueler fate.
He in fact turned to a group in the US, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), an international NGO established in New York on January 20, 2006. “Immediately,” Lebin explains, “the WOIPFG organized volunteers to directly call police stations in China, inquiring, asking and urging its officers to immediately and unconditionally release my parents.” Yet more activists tried to help rescue the couple. The International Society for Human Rights, an NGO with UN ECOSOC status based in Frankfurt, Germany, sent letters of protest to the PRC’s Ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, the PRC’s Minister of Foreign affairs, Qin Gang, CCP Provincial Secretary of the Shandong province, Lin Wu, and Rizhao city, Shandong, CCP Municipal Secretary, Zhang Hui.
This pressure won the day. It forced Chinese authorities to release Ma Ruimei on bail on May 24. However, Ding Yuande is still in custody. Since June 13, he is detained in the Rizhao City Detention Center. “The following day, June 14,” Lebin told “Bitter Winter,” “two policemen reached again the house of my parents and threatened mum, showing deep anger. They intimidated her by saying that, because of the rescue action I organized abroad, they kept my father in prison. Frightening, but it shows one important thing: publicity on these cases and going international really helps. The Chinese authorities are very afraid that their illegal persecution may get huge international attention abroad.”
For this reason, Ding Lebin relentlessly continues to exert as much pressure as he can on Chinese authorities through by working with all those, individuals and NGOs such as the Society for Threatened Peoples, who may help him, both in Germany, where he lives, and abroad. Some results came. Several members of the European Parliament, the German Bundestag and the Berlin State Parliament (the capital of Germany is a city-state with its own legislative body), plus several members of the Czech Parliament and the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, sent letters to the afore mentioned Wu Ken, Lin Wu, and Zhang Hui demanding to free Ding Yuande now. Moreover, on July 15, 2023, a rally for the persecuted Falun Gong practitioners took place in Munich, receiving the support of 12 German politicians.
Recently, Ding Lebin wrote to the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and, thanks to the Falun Dafa Association and Falun Dafa Information Center in Germany, anyone can implement similar lobbying actions. There are in fact a protest letter to the PRC’s Ambassador in Germany and another to the CCP Municipal Committee in Rizhao that can be signed, as well as guidelines for effective action. It takes only a few minutes to help.
“The kindhearted European citizens who signed the letters in favor of my parents encourage me to stay strong and continue the fight until the end of all crimes against humanity that the CCP perpetrates,” Lebin said.
The article was updated on August 25, 2023