Interview with Wen Shan (Part 1): The Price of Honesty

PureInsight | September 29, 2003

[] Background of the interview: the era of history where the truth is covered up and distorted will soon be over and the truth will be revealed. The following interview is a true story. Just for speaking a few true words, in the past three years an ordinary woman has been arrested seven times, detained in thirteen different hellacious labor camps, and her family has been broken up. Her experience is beyond comprehension. However, through her kindness and determination I was still able to see sunshine and hope.

(In my interview with Wen Shan, Wang refers to the interviewer and Wen refers to Wen Shan, the interviewee, a Falun Gong practitioner.)

Wang: From 1999 to 2002, you were arrested seven times and detained in thirteen different locations including the Shenyang Detention Center, the Masanjia Labor Camp (often called " hell on earth") and the Longshan Re-education center. The tortures you had received in those places is beyond description. However, you never backed down or gave up your beliefs in Falun Gong. Some policemen in the prison and some prisoners even called you 'Sister Jiang' or 'Liu Hulan' (translator's note: both are Chinese national heroines). What power supported you throughout this ordeal?

Wen: Let me start from the very beginning. When I was twelve years old, the Cultural Revolution was launched in China. The whole country was in chaos. At the age of seventeen I graduated from high school and was sent off to work and live in the countryside. Some years later I returned to the city and found a job in a factory. Later, because the factory could not pay its workers, I lost my job.

Wang: Your generation is perhaps the most unfortunate of any throughout all of China's history.

Wen: For decades I fought with others and struggled to gain a better life for myself. I had all kinds of diseases such as heart trouble, cardiac and arthritis. I was only 40 years old, yet I felt I was already half dead from all the diseases that I was suffering from. Because I had neurasthenia, I could only sleep for two hours at night. I felt weak all over. I was always in a state of anxiety, and often lost my temper. I visited many hospitals to cure my diseases. However, the diseases did not take a turn for the better despite spending a lot of money on Chinese and western medicines. Life was just too bitter for me at that time, and living seemed no better than death.

Wang: Then what happened?

Wen: One day, I went to my mother's home and saw a book called China Falun Gong on her desk. Being an avid reader, though often only to kill time late at night when I could not sleep, I picked it up and started to read. Of all the books I have read, this book, China Falun Gong, was very special. Once I started reading it I did not want to stop. I asked my mother to lend me the book to read at home, but she wouldn't let me borrow it as she herself had borrowed the book from someone else and had promised to return it the very next day. I decided to stay at my mother's place overnight just so I could finish the book. This was the first time in more than ten years that I had spent a night away from home. In the past I had always returned home no matter how late it was. However, this time I could not stop reading. The more I read the more I wanted to continue. The book contained principles that I had never heard of before. They were just so good. I kept reading till daylight broke. Next morning I bought a copy of China Falun Gong at a book stand.

Wang: There are thousands of books talking about morality and ethical principles. Why did you like this book so much?

Wen: This book discussed many things that I had always wanted to know but could never understand clearly before. For example, the book talked about being a good person. Up until that time, I had often experienced being looked down upon or attacked by others, leaving me feeling bitter and tired. Should I become a bad person? I did not want to, and nor did I know how I could become one. But it was so hard to be a good person in society. You would be bullied. You would struggle with others. I was quite sick and did not have the physical strength. There were so many unfair things. I found life to be meaningless and not interesting.

Wang: Not interesting? Many people enjoy life greatly. They want to make money.

Wen: I mean, people are losing security and trust between each other. It was through this book that it dawned on me how everything was. I suddenly understood things such as why some people had misfortune since birth. Why there is "injustice" in the world. Why some people are often bullied by others, and why people should be kind to one another. All of a sudden I felt relieved. I finally understood the principle. I knew the difference between what is right and wrong. My mind was opened up. The moment when I understood the principle, it was just like a blind person seeing light.

Wang: What do you mean exactly? Can you make it more specific?

Wen: I learned to practice the five sets of exercises of Falun Gong through reading the book. Half a month later all my illnesses were cured. I simply could not believe it. Was this cultivation way really miraculous? I was still worried that old illnesses might attack again, so I did not throw away all the medicines until I was really sure that I was indeed cured. Although the illnesses were cured, I was not very serious about cultivation. The book said that we should be good people following the principles of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." However, in society if I did not fight for my own interest, if I did not lie, how could I make money? For this reason I was hesitant for some time. Later I went to the practice site in our neighborhood. Every practitioner there cultivated diligently. So I started to be stricter with myself in cultivation. At work I did not argue with customers. At home when my husband lost his temper I did not quarrel with him. Gradually I felt my life becoming more and more enriched. Falun Gong brought me health in body and mind as well as family harmony. I was employed by a produce vendor. There was a quota system for the staff of each team, such as wholesaling, weighing products, and fee collection. One could get a bonus if one surpassed the assigned quota. As a result everybody jostled for position and tried to be the one who got to sell the produce to the customers. I did not fight with others. I left such things to the others. By the end of the month, I did not fulfill my quota. Then everybody began to help me since they knew it was because I did not fight with them. As time went on, when a sales opportunity came along, my colleagues no longer jostled for position like they did before. At that time, people who knew us all acknowledged that we were good people and we got along well with each other as if we were sisters. Even the policemen who arrested me later also said that the Falun Gong practitioners were kind people, but they had no choice but follow the orders from the higher-ups as the government had declared us guilty.

Wang: Why did so many people believe in the government's propaganda, which said that Falun Gong was against the government and unpatriotic?

Wen: For so many years, from even the first day at school, we were educated that loving the country means listening to the government. Whatever the government says is always right. Common people can only obey the government regardless of right or wrong. You have to be obedient. Only the government is right. When the government does the right thing it is right. When it does the wrong thing it is also right. No matter how wrong the government is, the common people have to obey it. As long as the government labels something as wrong, you must obey no matter how correct you are. You have to give up your upright idea or conduct. From the Qing Dynasty till now, the government has treated common people ruthlessly, even though it is very meek towards foreign powers. Another example is when Deng Xiaoping was knocked down during the Cultural Revolution. Who dared to say he was good? After his case was redressed and he regained power, who could say he was bad?

Wang: But" an arm cannot twist a leg"…[Editors note: Common people are weak against the government]

Wen: This time, in the case of Falun Gong, I must not follow the old way. All my old illnesses were cured after taking up the practice of Falun Gong. I have benefited both in body and mind. My life was granted by Falun Gong. At all cost I should tell the government my sincere words: " You have wronged Falun Gong."

Wang: Didn't you ask for trouble by doing this? You knew very clearly of the situation in China in the past decades, didn't you?

Wen: We should have a conscience. I only spent ten yuan (about US $1.25) to purchase a book. I did not even see Master Li, yet he saved my life. We all know the Chinese saying:" Repay the kindness of a drop of water with a gushing spring." How could I keep silent when others slandered my teacher, not to mention I was cultivating "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance"? I went to appeal to the higher authority in accordance with the laws set by the government. What did I do wrong? In addition, during the past years of my cultivation, I did not lie or cheat people. I did not make dirty money. After my work unit went bankrupt, I opened up my own business, an electronics store. People who bought wholesale often asked me to write more money in the receipt than the actual amount so that they could get reimbursed for more money illegally. I did not help them and so I lost much business. Once a person came to buy wholesale for his work unit. He wanted to buy some digital calendar clocks. He asked me to write more money in the receipt. He also wanted to buy some things for himself and asked me to put the cost of his personal items into the bill. I disagreed. Thus, he left. After a while, he came back and still asked me to write more money into the receipt. I did not change my mind. I recommended a bigger electronics store to him. Other shop owners close to my shop said, "what a pity! You give us products and let us do the business." I said, "It doesn't matter if I don't get the business. It doesn't make a difference to me." Later that person came back. He said that he did not find the product that I had, and he did not want me to write in more money. He just hoped I could give him two yuan discount for each clock. I said, "As long as you do not take and advantage by unfair means, I do not mind making less money." I added that what I did was good for him also. In our electronics market, many shop owners practiced Falun Gong. Some people bought our products and asked us to write more money in the receipt, so that they could get reimbursed with more than what they paid. We Falun Gong practitioners all refused to do business with such people. They made a lot of dirty money from purchasing products for their companies. They were taking money away from others. It is just such an unhealthy and corrupt way that damaged many companies. Many companies ended up going bankrupt, and workers lost jobs. We stopped their wrong doings by not co-operating with them.

We did this for the sake of the interests of common people. At the same time we helped those who purchased do fewer wrong things and retain their virtue. Before cultivating Falun Gong, I used to fight for business with people of the same trade. We had conflicts from time to time when I could not put down the attachment for profit. I felt awfully bad on these occasions. After taking up Falun Gong, we all got along very well. Everything changed. This was because of the power of Dafa, which lifted people's level of morality. How could such people go against the government? I believed the government and so I went to Beijing just to present a few words from the bottom of my heart.

Wang: Did you have a chance to say your words?

Wen: There was no way to appeal for Falun Gong in the appeals office in Beijing. You would get arrested before you reached the lane where the appeals office was located.

Wang: How did you get arrested?

Wen: The first time was at the Tiananmen Square while walking through an underpass, I was stopped by a public security guard who did not show me any identification card. He searched my bag and found a Falun Gong book. So he sent me to a detention center where I was locked up with people who had mental disorders. There were more than twenty Dafa disciples who were detained together with me. Every day some practitioners were taken out and badly beaten. Later, the security officers from the Liaoning (where I came from) provincial office in Beijing came to retrieve me. While being escorted back to my hometown by the security officers, I escaped. I thought that since I did not even get to tell one word to the government that I should go to back to Beijing. The place where I escaped from was about 500 kilometers away from Beijing. I overcame many troubles and bought an old bike. On the journey I was exposed to cold and wet. Finally I arrived in Beijing. However, how could one find a place to appeal?

Wang: Then what did you do?

Wen: At that time many Dafa disciples went to Beijing from all over China. Many things happened. At midnight of September 9th, 1999, when I was resting on the stairs of Beijing Railway Station, a security guard came to search me and he found the book Zhuan Falun. Because of this I was detained in the police substation of the Railway Station. After that they sent about ten people including me to the Liaoning Province's office in Beijing. People there lied to me and said that if I went back to Liaoning, the local police would release me and let me go home. We were handcuffed and escorted back by train. On the way there, they got my home address by again lying to me. Upon reaching Shenyang (the capital city of Liaoning Province), policemen from the public security branch office of the Shenhe district took me away. Then they sentenced me to detention for one month without any legal proceedings.

Wang: Was it a detention center in Shenyang city?

Wen: Yes. The maximum detention period under the law should have been two weeks. However, all Falun Gong practitioners were sentenced for one month. They were afraid that we would go to Beijing again on October 1st. (China's National Day)

Wang: Many people asked me a question. Why didn't Falun Gong practitioners practice secretly at home? Then everything would be fine.

Wen: In the detention center, the brainwash class organizer forced me to write a pledge to say I would completely give up Falun Gong. We were forced to choose between our family and Falun Gong; that is, home or detention center. Some practitioners stayed at home and were not arrested. But that is only because they all signed to promise that they would never practice Falun Gong. I wanted both my family and Falun Dafa. However, the government did not agree. We were forced to select one or the other. In that case, I could only choose Dafa because Dafa had granted me a second life.

Wang: Why didn't you write a fake guarantee so that you could have kept both?

Wen: Everyone has a conscience. We cultivate "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." If I had written a fake pledge, wouldn't I be doing a false and insincere thing? Wouldn't I be lying? Non-practitioners may do this, but how can a cultivator lie to people? It is obvious that Falun Gong is good, and yet some people are slandering it. Why don't you tell people the truth? How can you chime in with others? My thinking is that Falun Gong is good and I have chosen this road, so I should hold on straight to the end and cultivate to the end. I have done nothing wrong. What do I need to sign a pledge for?

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