On Oct. 24, 2016, in San Francisco, Peiqi Gu talked about her family’s educational values, and how she almost lost the chance to complete school in China due to the persecution of her spiritual faith—Falun Gong. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)On Oct. 24, 2016, in San Francisco, Peiqi Gu talked about her family’s educational values, and how she almost lost the chance to complete school in China due to the persecution of her spiritual faith—Falun Gong. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—”For 16 years, I’ve been living in the fear of being persecuted for my faith,” said Peiqi Gu, 30, who grew up in communist China. Her faith is Falun Dafa, a Buddha School practice of the mind, body, and spirit, which is freely enjoyed nearly everywhere in the world, with the notable exception of China.

Just one year before the persecution began, Gu, at the age of 11, took up Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) with her mother. According to an official study, some 70 other people in China were also practicing Falun Gong; Falun Gong sources say the number was over 100 million.

This traditional meditation system advocates high moral values associated with truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as taught in the teachings of Zhuan Falun.

“I always can find very profound meaning about life, about the universe in Dafa, in reading Dafa,” said Gu, as well as how to be a good person, and how “to deal with tribulations and troubles of life.”

When the persecution started and the communist party-controlled T.V. began vilifying Falun Gong, Gu was in total disbelief. The programming aimed at instilling public fear of and hatred for Falun Gong in an attempt justify the brutal persecution.

“I was shocked because it was absolutely the opposite of what I learned by … practicing and reading the Dafa book ,because Dafa always tells you to be a good person, by following the principles of truthfulness, compassion—benevolence—and tolerance,” Gu said.

Gu and her mother set out to counteract the slander by telling others of their positive experiences with the practice. Yet, these actions placed them directly in harm’s way.

This is a story of a loving family sticking together, of a young college girl forging a path to spiritual freedom, and in doing so, strengthening her voice to dispel the lies against Falun Gong.

Education a Family Priority

For Gu’s family, education was a top priority.

Peiqi Gu grew up in China as an only daughter of two loving parents who valued education. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Peiqi Gu grew up in China as an only daughter of two loving parents who valued education. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

“I am the only child in my family. I was a very, very super-spoiled girl,” Gu said.

“It’s funny, since first grade to twelve,” Gu explained, her mom was up first to start breakfast. Her dad waited until the very last moment before calling Gu to wake up to allow her as much sleep as possible. After eating or while Gu ate, her mom did her hair. Dad got her school bag arranged, and put her shoes on then assisted her with a coat.

“Then … my dad would just open the door, so I could just run and go to school. And, my parents even moved to an apartment that was next door to my high school, so I just needed to walk five minutes to go to school and be seated in my classroom.”

School was a safe place until February of 2006, “that’s the day I will never forget, … my mom and I got arrested,” Gu said.

Arrest and Threats

Gu, her mom, and her aunt’s family were on holiday break at a hotel. “Six of us were arrested, and we were interrogated and questioned by the police separately,” Gu said.

Peiqui Gu was arrested in China along with her mother for talking about Falun Gong. The police threatened to abduct her from school and place her in detention.

Peiqui Gu was arrested in China along with her mother for talking about Falun Gong. The police threatened to abduct her from school and place her in detention. “Nobody was willing to help us… So, I feel that the whole family had collapsed,” Gu said.

“Then they figured out that only my mom and I practiced [Falun Gong], and [so] they released my aunt’s whole family.”

The arrest happened as a result of Gu and her mom giving out free DVDs to resort shop owners. The DVDs had information dispelling propaganda ploys by the government-controlled media to turn the public against Falun Gong.

Mom and daughter also talked to a shop owner about their personal experiences of becoming healthy and better people by living by truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

At the police station, Gu’s mom refused to tell the police where they had gotten the DVDs they were passing out. The police then “start to threaten my mom that they would stop my education and ruin my future,” Gu said.

After 48 hours in the police station, “they sent my mom to a detention center, and they asked my dad to take me home. The police … told my dad, who is not a [Falun Gong] practitioner, to take care of me because I [now] have a criminal record in the police system, and that if I ever do that [again]… I would definitely be arrested and they would stop my college education.”

“It was the first time I [had] ever seen my dad so desperate,” Gu said.

The threats were also hard on her mother. “My mom thought of killing herself because if they would stop my education, my mom could not forgive herself,” Gu said.

Gu’s dad reassured them that everything would be okay. He decided to ask if he could take her place if Gu should go to jail, then her studies would not be interrupted.

Impact on the Family

Historically, the communist regime instills fear that can pit parents and children against each other as well as other loved ones. The fear is well founded.

There are chilling consequences for talking about Falun Dafa in public or not renouncing the faith when asked to by communist regime authorities. These well-documented consequences include incarceration, leading to such things as “sleep deprivation, threatening family members, denial of access to sanitation or bathrooms,” Amnesty International reports.

“The ill-treatment escalates to severe beatings, 24-hour surveillance, solitary confinement, shocks with electric batons,…”rack” torture…” and hundreds of other forms of unbelievably inhumane tortures,” according to Amnesty.

Out of fear of retaliation by the government authorities, Gu’s relatives turned their backs. “They just abandoned us in that dark night; I will never forget. They just left and … never called my dad.”

Instead of coming up with solutions, “they gathered all our relatives together  … cursing us and blaming us,” Gu explained.

“Nobody was willing to help us out, to get out of that situation. So, I felt that the whole family had collapsed.”

Now living in the United States, Peiqi Gu can openly practice Falun Gong. Her mission is to tell others about about the benefits of Falun Gong as shown here in a park in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2016. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Now living in the United States, Peiqi Gu can openly practice Falun Gong. Her mission is to tell others about about the benefits of Falun Gong as shown here in a park in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2016. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Ever since the day she and her mom were arrested, she said, “I’ve been living in the fear of being persecuted.”

“I couldn’t imagine [anything] worse happening to me. So the only thing in my mind during the four years in college [in China] I was thinking about how to escape, to get out from that place,” Gu said.

Several opportunities to live elsewhere came up and she took them. The final stop was the United States. With the help of U.S. Falun Gong practitioners, “I walked away from the fear little by little,” Gu said.

Dreams of Freely Practicing Falun Gong

After college, Gu tried several places outside of China to live. “I got a job and the company sent me to Laos, a … developing country. I told myself I would rather … live there instead of going back to China,” Gu said. No more worries of being abducted.

However, fear was still felt as her parents’ phone was monitored by local police.

Her job in Laos was with a hotel “where I found my interest in the hotel industry,” Gu said. And in 2014 she got accepted  to a U.S. school to get a master’s degree in hospitality management.

The school granted her the opportunity to attend a conference in the Dominican Republic where for the first time since the persecution began she was able openly to practice Falun Gong.

“That moment was so beautiful. I just felt so relieved by sitting there and practicing with practitioners. I realized … the whole world welcomes Falun Dafa,” Gu said.

The practice “is originally from China, but unfortunately most of the Chinese people are unable to know the beauty of Falun Dafa.”Peiqui Gu shows a cell phone photo of her father when he visited her in the summer of 2016. She was separated from her parents for two years, the longest time she ever spent away from them. Her father

Peiqui Gu shows a cell phone photo of her father when he visited her in the summer of 2016. She was separated from her parents for two years, the longest time she ever spent away from them. Her father “knows how hard I was trying to survive alone on the other side of the world by myself,” Gu said.

Gu decided right then to continue to do what she did in China, “keep telling others, especially Chinese people, what Falun Dafa is, [and about] the wonderfulness of Falun Dafa,” Gu said.

In May of 2016, she graduated with a master’s degree in hospitality management, which led to a good job as an accountant for a boutique hotel chain.

A New life in America

She recently had a reunion with father on his visit to the United States. She was so excited that after two years of being in the States, she finally got to see him.

“I have never [been] separated from my parents for that long,” Gu said.

As a young professional working as an accountant for a high-end boutique hotel chain, Gu is on top of her world with a new life in the United States and awaiting a reunion with her parents. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

As a young professional working as an accountant for a high-end boutique hotel chain, Gu is on top of her world with a new life in the United States and awaiting a reunion with her parents. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Her dad couldn’t believe that his little girl was all grown-up, very independent, with school completed, a new life and friends, and a good job.

“He knows how hard I was trying to survive alone on the other side of the world by myself,” Gu said.

Gu’s family hope one day soon to be reunited permanently.

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Huang Jiefu, the spokesperson on Chinese transplantation issues, dodges reporters at The Transplantation Society’s recent biennial conference in Hong Kong on Aug. 19. (Yu Kong/Epoch Times)Huang Jiefu, the spokesperson on Chinese transplantation issues, dodges reporters at The Transplantation Society’s recent biennial conference in Hong Kong on Aug. 19. (Yu Kong/Epoch Times)

China’s organ transplantation authorities may be taking a leaf from the public relations playbook of Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump: If you make a stumble, just pretend like nothing happened.

This, at least, would be a potential explanation for the silent substitution of the 491st question in the 500 “Frequently Asked Questions” on the website of China’s Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, a state-linked agency promoting voluntary donation.

In early August, the question asked was: “Can prisoners in jail apply to donate their organs after death?”

The answer: “As long as they meet the basic requirements of organ donation, the organ function is normal, they are willing, and there is no compensation, prisoners can all the same donate organs.”

The existence of the question and answer was, in the first place, a bizarre and public contradiction of the officially stated policy of the Chinese authorities on organ transplant reform.

China’s organ transplantation spokesperson, Huang Jiefu, has since December 2014 been promising that no more organs would be sourced from death row prisoners.

It remained unclear just why a question on China’s own semi-official website, belonging to the foundation run by Huang, would flatly contest his own public promises.

But it seems the answer to that question will now remain a mystery. Sometime later in August, after Epoch Times brought the aberrant Q-and-A to the attention of several Chinese and Western doctors, it was replaced.

“Will information about donations be widely reported by the media?” the new one asked. (No, is the answer.)

A screengrab from an archived version of the website of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, with the replaced question — affirming the use of prisoner organs — highlighted. (Screenshot/Epoch Times)

Yet the question of whether or not death row prisoners are still being used as an organ source remains unanswered. China, after all, has passed no new law banning the use of organs from prisoners, and nor have they rescinded the 1984 regulations that first gave the legal opening for their use.

An email to the foundation requesting comment was not immediately returned.

The failure to make these promised changes has led the international transplantation community to sour on endorsing China’s system, and led to public rebukes from the former head of The Transplantation Society at a major conference in Hong Kong last month.

Meanwhile, attention continues to focus on whether the primary source of organs all along has not been death row prisoners, as China claims, but instead extrajudicially executed prisoners of conscience—primarily practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been targeted for elimination since 1999.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning this practice in June, documentaries on the subject are winning prestigious awards, and the issue has been prominently raised in a number of recent reports in The New York Times.

On that topic, Chinese authorities have provided even less explanation than the deleted question. “Ridiculous!” was all Huang Jiefu, a former vice health minister, could muster at the recent Hong Kong conference, declining to address hundreds of pages of detailed evidence that researchers say documents the practice.

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Luo Zhijun spoke at a political meeting on Jan. 27, 2010. Luo was moved from his powerful post as Party Secretary in Jiangsu to a figurehead role at the regime’s rubber stamp legislature. (jszx.gov.cn)Luo Zhijun spoke at a political meeting on Jan. 27, 2010. Luo was moved from his powerful post as Party Secretary in Jiangsu to a figurehead role at the regime’s rubber stamp legislature. (jszx.gov.cn)

Luo Zhijun, the former Party Secretary of China’s coastal province of Jiangsu, is the latest member connected to ex-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin’s political network to be suddenly moved from a top office recently.

State mouthpiece Xinhua reported on June 30 that Luo was being replaced by Jiangsu governor Li Qiang due to age reasons. Two days later, Luo was sworn in as vice chairman of environmental and resources protection committee in the regime’s rubber stamp legislature in an official ceremony.

Although Luo will hit the official retirement age of 65 this November, it is irregular for provincial level Party cadres to be suddenly moved out of a post with executive power to a figurehead role—in this case the deputy director of Environmental Protection and National Resources Committee in the National People’s Congress—in the final leg of their career.

Luo’s transfer is, however, in line with a recent trend of high-ranking officials from Jiangsu Province getting ousted. Ji Jianye, former mayor of Nanjing in Jiangsu, Zhao Shaolin, former provincial standing committee member and secretary general, and Yang Weize, former Party Secretary of Nanjing, were purged in 2015. This May, former Jiangsu deputy provincial governor Li Yunfeng was investigated for “severely violating Party discipline”—a catch-all phrase for malfeasance or political rivalry.

Party leader Xi Jinping’s purge of Jiangsu appears to be aimed at diminishing the influence of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. China’s eastern central province of Jiangsu is both Jiang’s birthplace and one of his power bases. Xi has been steadily uprooting Jiang’s political network since taking office in 2013.

Luo seems to be aware of this context, given his remarks following his demotion.

“I strongly support the decision made by Party Central,” Luo told Jiangsu officials, according to People’s Net, the online version of state mouthpiece People’s Daily.  “All accomplishments made in Jiangsu in recent years were the result of strong leadership by General Secretary Xi Jinping.”

But three years ago at a book launch ceremony for Jiang Zemin’s book in his hometown of Yangzhou, Luo had instead offered the following praise for Jiang: “Comrade Jiang Zemin was supported and beloved by the Party, the military, and people from all ethnic backgrounds,” Luo said, and added that Jiang’s new book would “urge all cadres and masses in the province to continue to struggle,” reported Xinhua.

Luo had a good reason to be supportive of Jiang. According to overseas Chinese news publication Bowen Press, former General Office head Ling Jihua had promised Luo the position of Ministry of Public Security chief if a coup against Xi—that Ling was planning with the disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai and former security czar Zhou Yongkang—was successful. Ling, Bo, and Zhou are firm allies of Jiang Zemin.

In a speech last year, Xi Jinping accused Ling, Zhou, Bo, and other fallen elite cadres for having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.”

Of a piece with his factional affiliation, Luo Zhijun is also involved in the brutal persecution campaign against the traditional Chinese spiritual discipline Falun Gong that Jiang Zemin ordered in July 1999.

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a nonprofit research organization based in the United States, has confirmed at least 13 deaths during Luo’s tenure as mayor and Party Secretary of Nanjing, and at least 48 deaths during his time in Jiangsu.

WOIPFG holds Luo accountable for the death of Wu Di, a former employee of the Suining County Farming Machinery Factory in Jiangsu.

For refusing to renounce Falun Gong and give up the practice, Wu was fired from her job, forced to divorce her husband, and injected with nerve-damaging drugs while she was incarcerated at a psychiatric ward in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province in 2001, according to an account on Minghui.org, a clearinghouse of information about the persecution.

Wu Di was arrested again in 2002 and imprisoned until 2007. On Nov. 10, 2008, Wu suddenly went missing following months of repeated harassment by local security officials,  and was later found to have drowned in river in Jiangsu’s Suining County.

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