PureInsight | November 7, 2005
[PureInsight.org] On September 27, 2005, the Washington D.C. Falun Dafa Association held a press conference outside the Rayburn Building of the U.S. Congress to thank the American government for helping to rescue Li Weixun, a Falun Gong practitioner from Mainland China who had been severely persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime. During the news conference, Ms. Li described how she had been persecuted to near death for practicing Falun Gong and only was able to escape from Mainland China after getting released from prison on a medical parole.
In June, James Sensenbrenner, the influential Chairman of the U.S. House's Judicial Committee, wrote to the refugee office of the U.S. State Department, urging the State Department to examine the refugee applications of Falun Gong practitioners from Mainland China. Through passing resolutions and holding public hearings, the U.S. Congress has also shown its concern for the terrible situations that many Falun Gong practitioners in Mainland China are in.
With help from the U.S. government and international refugee organizations, Li Weixun finally won her freedom after enduring a lot of suffering during the last several years. She said, "Even though I have won my freedom today, my older brother, a person who has never practiced Falun Gong, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison in Mainland China for helping me and other Falun Gong practitioners to escape from Mainland China. He is still suffering at the Babei Prison. Because of the tortures he experienced inside the prison, his hair has turned white."
Many American people have learned the story of Li Weixun.
Since the Chinese Communist regime began to persecute Falun Gong more than six years ago, due to the persistent efforts of many people, including reporters from upstanding media organizations outside of Mainland China, a lot of people have more or less learned the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong. But many people know next to nothing about what kind of lives Falun Gong practitioners in Mainland China have had during the last six years and how they have been dealing with their family members. This interview aims to shed light on the life of one Falun Gong practitioner, Ms. Li.
Li Weixun was born in Liaoning Province on May 26, 1957. She is 48 years old. Both of her parents were "veteran Chinese Communist Party members" who had served in the Chinese military. She has one older brother and three younger sisters. Both she and her husband had been staff members at the Office of the Communist Party Branch at the Liaoning Province Heavy Machinery Manufacturing Group. How had she gone from being a Communist Party member who was an atheist to a cultivator who aspires to cultivate to Buddhahood and reach the Dao? Our interview started from this topic.
"I was so happy that I almost couldn't stop from laughing out loud"
Ms Li said, "In the spring of 1996, I learned about Falun Gong through a chance encounter. During the Cultural Revolution, my parents had been singled out for persecution. I was only 9 years old at the time, and yet I was forced to cook and wash clothes for all 7 members of my family. I was very young at the time. I wasn't even tall enough to reach the stovetop. So I had to cook while standing on a little stool. The stool shook whenever I moved, and I was always afraid of falling off it. We lived in the northeastern part of China where the winter is very brutal. During the winter, I had to wash all my family members' clothes with cold icy water by hand. The water was so cold that even my bones felt cold. From then on, I began to suffer from bronchitis and rheumatoid arthritis. When I was almost 40, the rheumatoid arthritis that I was suffering from led to heart diseases, and an insufficient supply of blood to my brain. All the joints around my waist, ankles, feet, and hands became deformed. I had to get my husband to help me if I wanted to shift my position while sleeping at night. After more than 30 years of suffering, I felt that I would be better off being dead. I had taken a lot of medicine but nothing worked. Only I knew how much I was suffering inside. I really had lost all joy in living.
Since I was so ill, I tried everything that I thought might help me. I had once learned a form of Qigong. Only later on did I come to realize that it was a very bad practice. After I learned it, I couldn't stop my body from moving uncontrollably. While the Qigong teacher was emitting his "energy," I would swing along with him wildly as if I was dancing. I couldn't control myself at all. Each year I had to pay more money to study more exercises and listen to the teacher give lectures. The people within that organization were only interested in making money. They fought with each other all the time, and there were a lot of internal conflicts. So finally I decided to give it up.
In the spring of 1996, one morning I went to take a walk at the Huaxiang Park in the city of Shenyang. A group of people were practicing one form of Qigong on the left side, and another group of people were practicing another form of Qigong on the right side. I walked to the right side. When he saw I was coming over, a person from the group went up to meet with me. Only then did I know that they were practicing Falun Gong. I told him that I wanted to learn it. So a volunteer assistant came over to teach me. I learned four sets of exercises that day.
When I closed my eyes and held myself in the position of "Holding the Law Wheel," an inexplicable joy burst out from the depth of my being. I couldn't contain my joy. If there weren't other people around, I believe I would have burst out laughing. When the volunteer assistant saw me smiling, he asked me if it was because I had seen something with my Celestial Eye. I told him that I hadn't seen anything but I felt a great deal of comfort in my heart. I saw bright shining lights in front of me and everything appeared white.
After I finished practicing the exercises, I immediately bought a copy of Zhuan Falun. I opened the first page, and read "Lunyu." After I finished reading it, I couldn't bear to put the book down. So I held the book in my hands and read the book as I crossed the busy streets to go home. On the way home, I lost myself in the book. When I finished reading Zhuan Falun, I felt that I had found the place where my life belonged. I was so moved and shaken up. After more than several decades of searching, I had finally found the way home, the way to return to one's true, original self."
At that point, Ms. Li began to cry. Tears fell down her face like strings after strings of pearls. Only after a long break, was she able to collect herself and continue with her story.
"Later on, many people often asked me how I was able to get my illnesses cured through the practice of Falun Gong. I could never tell them. I have no idea when my illnesses had been cured. I only knew that the book was a treasure and after reading the book and practicing the exercises everyday, all my illnesses vanished. Since then, I have never experienced the pain of suffering from an illness, and I have never needed to take any medicine."
After seeing my transformation, all my family members thought it was quite miraculous. Before I knew it, my young sister and my son had both started to practice Falun Gong. After my mother-in-law returned to Mainland China from her daughter's home in Singapore, she also listened to the Fa lectures of Master Li three times with me. On July 19, 1999, I taught her the five sets of exercises. But the persecution started the very next day, and my mother-in-law gave it up after that.
How could I choose between giving up my left hand and my right hand?
Reporter: After the Chinese Communist Regime began to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, the persecution escalated step by step. Yet you kept going to higher and high levels of the Chinese government to appeal for Falun Gong. Eventually you were arrested for going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. After you were sent back to your hometown, faced with the prospect of losing your job and your family, what were you thinking?
Ms. Li: "After the persecution against Falun Gong started on July 20th, 1999, I twice went to the Communist Party Branch of Liaoning Province to appeal for Falun Gong. I also wrote letters to relevant governmental agencies to appeal for Falun Gong. During that time, I kept my normal work schedule and studied the Fa and practiced the exercises at home. At the end of October of 1999, the Chinese Communist regime began to make up massive amounts of slanders against Falun Gong and broadcast those lies in the government-controlled media outlets. I could no longer remain at home. So my young sister and I went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong on November 9th. We were arrested and sent back to the Danan Detention Center in Shenyang City two days later. They wanted me to write a pledge promising that I would never go back to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong again, and said that they would release me if I wrote the pledge. I refused to do it, so they brought my family members to try to persuade me.
When my husband saw me for the first time in the detention center, his eyes were filled with tears. He held my hands tightly and called me by my childhood's nickname, "Zhuang, let us back off temporarily, won't it be OK?" I replied, "No, I can't tell lies. I can't stop on the course of my cultivation."
My husband and I had grown up together as children. We had never had any secret from each other and our relationship was very deep and strong. He knew that I hadn't done anything wrong. But what could he do in the face of the sudden persecution from the machinery of the entire country? He tried his best to hold back his tears. He didn't say anything. He just let go of my hands and slowly left.
The next day people at the detention center brought my elderly mother from the town of Tieling. She was in her 70s. I was stunned when my saw my white-haired mother, supported by my older brother and my husband on either side, at the detention center. As tears flew down her wrinkled face, my heart trembled. My mother begged me, "Zhuang, why don't you write the pledge so we can go home? Listen to your mother!" I tried to hold back my tears and told her, "Mom, I have done nothing wrong. I can't write it."
My mother said, "Let me kneel in front of you to beg you one more time!" I immediately grabbed her arms to stop her from dropping her knees down to the ground. I told her, "Mom, don't behave this way. After I began to practice Falun Gong, my body became healthy again and my breadth of mind also became much broader. You know all these things. Mom, everything I have done is legal and protected by the Chinese laws. They are the ones who have violated the laws." In the end, my mother left with tears in her eyes. As I saw her leaving, I felt that my heart was bleeding. How could it have come down to this? What an extremely cruel and inhumane thing this vicious party has done when it used its power to violate the Constitution and yet was forcing ordinary Chinese citizens to choose between their consciences and their love for their families!
It was as if a bandit had kidnapped you and wanted to chop off one of your arms. He asked you whether you want to have your left arm chopped off or your right arm. Another example is he asked me whether you wanted him to kill your son or your daughter. You won't have made a right choice going either way. I want to practice Falun Gong. I also want to have my family and my children. Yet the regime of the Chinese dictator, Jiang Zemin, was forcing us to make an impossible choice. If it isn't the behavior of a scoundrel, what would be?
"I felt another Cultural Revolution had started"
Reporter: After you were released from the detention center, what happened with your job and your family?
Ms. Li: "After I finished serving the term of my detention, I was released from the detention center. Supervisors from my workplace, including those who worked in the local communist party branch, the administration, the human resources department, and the Youth League, took turns trying to persuade me to give up practicing Falun Gong. They then used a practice from the Cultural Revolution – they sent a red-letter decree to all departments to censure me and use loudspeakers to denounce me in front of thirty thousand employees in my company every day for one week.
When my coworkers heard the name Li Weixun from the loudspeakers, they all thought that it must be talking about another person who had the same name as me. It is because in people's minds, I was the obedient daughter of my parents. I even obeyed my parents when they told me who I should marry. I was also a devoted wife to my husband. Nobody had ever heard me arguing with my husband. At work I was the coworker that everybody got along with the most. I would do whatever people asked me to do and was never picky. Nobody could have imagined that a weak little woman like me would hold my own beliefs steadfastly when my life was on the line. In the end, my workplace expelled me from the Communist Party.
After that, the local police station often sent people to my home to harass me. During major holiday and sensitive days, they would come by every day. My mother-in-law was also told, "Your daughter-in-law practices Falun Gong. You are family members of an anti-revolutionary." My elderly mother-in-law was often so scared that she would lose control of her bladder. Later on, my mother-in-law also thought it was strange, "I am a person who lived through the Cultural Revolution. Why didn't I think of trying to stop my daughter-in-law from going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong?" Then the answer came to her, "I thought the party had become good and would no longer start another Cultural Revolution. Who knows that it would still persecute ordinary Chinese citizens? Another Cultural Revolution is here!"
I once told a local policeman who came to "see" me, "I am an adult in my 40s. When I decided to start practicing Falun Gong, it wasn't a blind choice. Through practicing Falun Gong, I have gained my health back and learned how I should live as a human being. Zhuan Falun is a book that teaches people to be good people according to the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It teaches people who want to cultivate how to cultivate themselves. Cultivation is a part of traditional Chinese culture. Practicing Falun Gong is an individual choice. You might like to practice Taichi, another person might like jogging, and I just like to practice Falun Gong. It is as simple as that." The policeman said that he understood it but it wasn't up to him to decide whether I could practice Falun Gong or not.
"Leave! It is the only way you will be allowed to live."
Reporter: Out of everybody around you, your husband was probably under the most pressure. How did he treat you?
Li: "My husband is a person who cares about his pride a lot. He and I work for the same company, along with many relatives on both sides. All our relatives have been subject to a tremendous amount of pressure and punished because of their relationship with me. The officials often called my husband over for meetings and ordered him to try to force me to give up practicing Falun Gong. In front of others, he had always done his best to protect and defend me while enduring immense pressure. At home he also did his best to hold back and he never said anything. But as time went on, he could no longer take it.
One year in the year of 2000, my husband told me, "Let us pretend to get divorced. After we get divorced, we can still live together." I understood my husband's situation. Our workplace was forcing him to cut himself off from me. He also worried about the future of our son. But a cultivator shouldn't tell a lie. So I told him no. My husband thought it over and never raised the subject again.
Actually my husband knew that I wasn't responsible for his sufferings and he shouldn't release his anger on me even as anger was building up inside him. It's because I was a victim too. It is like after someone is murdered, you shouldn't blame him for not protecting himself. After a thief steals things, you shouldn't blame the homeowner for not putting things away properly. But nowadays the notions of Chinese people have become warped and unconsciously they have begun to blame the victims.
I could understand my husband's pain. He was a warm-blooded man, and yet he had lost even the right to cry. Even when he felt like crying, he could only swallow his tears. When he no longer could take it anymore, he would start to drink a lot and use the excuse of being drunk so he could cry. Therefore, my husband began to drink heavily and release his anger on me.
Later on, I became a wanted person for printing and distributing Falun Gong truth-clarification material. I was forced to flee from my home. One day in 2001, after living under immense pressure for a long period of time, my husband reached the limit of his endurance. He once again said he wanted a divorce. He had already filled out the divorce papers. My husband told me, "I don't want anything else. I just want to live like a normal human being. I have been living under a constant state of anxiety and worry. I can't take it any more."
I could understand his pain. So I told him calmly, "If you already have another woman in your life, I am not going to stop you. But marriage is a sacred thing, and it is not up to us to decide whether we should end it or not. I believe you will still come back to me after you search around."
My husband sighed deeply. He finally said, "How do you want to divide up our property?"
I said, "If I lose you, what possession would matter to me?" That night my husband left with the divorce papers. But from then on, he never raised the subject of divorce again. He knew that he couldn't give up the deep bond between us, and he also knew that we the Falun Gong practitioners aren't in the wrong.
At the end when I was about to leave China, my husband accompanied me to the airport. He cried quietly all the way to the airport. At the end, he said, "Leave! It is the only way you will be allowed to leave."
Willing to give up her life for the sake of truth
Reporter: Could you please describe to us in detail how you had been tortured to the point where you became paralyzed completely after you were arrested for the fourth time and barely managed to make it out alive?
Li: On January 13, 2002, the police discovered the place where other practitioners and I had been gathering and distributing Falun Gong truth-clarification material. Several practitioners and I were kidnapped and detained at the Tiexilingkong Police Station in Shengyang City. I wasn't allowed to get any sleep for four days and four nights. They interrogated me the whole time trying to force me to tell them where the clarification material had come from and what other practitioners were involved.
In order to protest my illegal arrest, I began a hunger strike. Because I hadn't committed any crime, I refused to give any answers throughout the interrogation. The police rolled up a book and used it to hit my head and my face. They handcuffed my hands behind my back over a chair and then used a lot of force to lift my handcuffed arms up in the air. The handcuff dug into my muscles and caused a lot of bleeding. They then stumped their leather boots against the ankles on my feet, and twisted their heels up and down along my ankles. They also kicked the joints on my ankles and my lower leg bones, and used a steel pipe that was about 1 inch in diameter to hit my lower leg bones. I ground my teeth in pain but I never said anything.
The next day the police sent in two new interrogators. They told me that they weren't going to beat me but they would make me suffer. They tried to force me to squat down. When I refused, they used their hands to grab me by my shoulder and neck and tried to force me to go down. When I still refused to go down, one person grabbed me by my collar and tried to drag me down while another person kicked my lower legs. I still refused to go down. The taller one out of the two began to use his elbows to hit the vertebrae along my neck and my back.
At that moment I felt as if my whole chest was being torn apart from the force. With each brutal hit, my mind would go blank for a moment, and finally I collapsed on the ground. Then they grabbed my collar and dragged me up. They still tried to force me to squat down. But I was no longer able to stand unassisted. I could no longer feel my legs and I once again fell down to the ground.
Reporter: Our bodies are all made of flesh. Didn't you feel pain after being tortured like that?
Li: "At that time, I didn't concentrate on whether I was feeling pain or not. I only told myself that I was a cultivator and that I hadn't done anything wrong. It was Dafa that had given me a new life, and I must not do anything that would hurt Dafa or fellow practitioners. At that moment I deeply felt that I was being supported by the mighty power of strong righteous beliefs and righteous thoughts.
Looking back at the turbulent time I spent in Mainland China, back then my heart was very peaceful. I didn't think too much but my mind was very clear. Even when I was walking along a noisy street, it was still as if I was walking by myself in a broad empty field. I melted into it and felt very tall. It is very difficult to use words to describe the realm and the state that I was in. I remember what I wrote in a letter to the provincial government, "Zhuan Falun teaches people how to be good people according to the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance are the characteristics of the universe. People who have learned the truth are willing to give up their lives for its sake."
"When my husband held me in his arms, I was as thin as a skeleton. But I knew at least I had made it out alive."
On the third day, two new interrogators from the Police Department came in. As soon as I saw them, one of them told me, "I was the one who beat Zong Hengjie to death." The other person said, "After Zong was beaten to death, it meant nothing. [when a Falun Gong practitioner is] beaten to death, it counts as suicide." Zong Hengjie was another Falun Gong practitioner who had lived in the same district as me. He was persecuted to death in 2001. The police told people that he had committed suicide.
The murderer who had beaten Zong Hengjie to death dragged me toward him with a great deal of force. He then slapped my face with both of his hands repeatedly. Faced with a murderer, I stopped caring whether I was going to live or die. My heart became very tranquil. I looked at him calmly. The righteous thoughts of a cultivator are powerful. The power is even clearer at the moment of life or death. At that moment, it seemed that the air around us had become frozen and the surroundings had become very quiet. The murderer rose his hand up in the air to hit me again but it seemed that he couldn't bring it down again."
They didn't get anywhere with me despite the repeated torturing sessions. On February 9th, they signed a formal arrest warrant and told me that I would be sent to prison. I refused to sign the arrest warrant. The prosecutor said, "Even if you don't sign it, we will still sentence you to prison." Afterwards, I learned that I had been sentenced to 16 years in prison even though I wasn't present at the trial. At the beginning, I wanted to go to court to defend my innocence. But then I realized that I shouldn't acknowledge the illegal sentence that they had forced upon me and prison isn't the place where good people should go. I wanted to go out and let more people know that Falun Gong has been slandered and Falun Gong only teaches people to cultivate themselves and be good people.
The environment in China at that time was terrible. The only way to get out of prison was to get a medical parole. After being tortured in the detention center for a long period of time, I lost the ability to move my arms on February 17th. My body was covered with strange bumps that were extremely itchy. Twenty days later, I couldn't move my legs either, and my hands and feet became so swollen that they appeared almost shiny. Several days later, I felt as if my jaw was locking up. I could neither speak nor eat any food. I fell into a state of unconsciousness. The hospital notified my family that I was in a critical condition and could die soon. In order to avoid taking responsibility, the 610 Office of Shenyang City agreed to release me on a medical parole. By that time, I had lost a lot of weight and was as thin as a skeleton. When my loved ones carried me to a car and my husband held me in his arms, I knew that I had finally made it out alive."
To be continued
(From The Epoch Times)
Translated from http://zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/10/8/34152.html