Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, ‘Split by the State’. (Alexander Nilsen)Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, ‘Split by the State’. (Alexander Nilsen)

“Split by the State”

 

As millions of Australian families prepare to celebrate Father’s Day to honour their paternal bonds, for Sydney refugee Eric Jia, his version of Father’s Day is a lonely affair.

The last time he saw his father Ye Jia was 15 years-ago when he was 3-years-old. This father and son were forcefully split by China’s one-party state, simply because Ye Jia wanted to meditate and follow his beliefs.

Eric and his dad in Shaanxi province China during happier times.  (Alexander Nilsen)

Eric and his dad in Shaanxi Province China during happier times. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

He practices Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation and spiritual practice based on the principles of ‘Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance’. It rose to popularity in China in the 1990’s, with over 100 million people experiencing its health benefits.

: Eric doing the Falun Gong meditation exercise at home in Sydney, Australia. China is the only country in the world that doesn't allow Falun Gong practitioners to meditate freely.  (Alexander Nilsen)

Eric doing the Falun Gong meditation exercise at home in Sydney, Australia. China is the only country in the world that doesn’t allow Falun Gong practitioners to meditate freely. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

These numbers proved too overwhelming for the Chinese regime, which with around 60 million communist members at the time, saw the practice as a threat. Former dictator Jiang Zemin initiated a country-wide crackdown and persecution against the peaceful movement, that hasn’t waned since it began on July 20, 1999.

The decision to persecute Falun Gong was made by former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin alone. Other members of the leadership favoured a more conciliatory approach, recognising that Falun Gong was peaceful. (NTD Television)

The decision to persecute Falun Gong was made by former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin alone. Other members of the leadership favoured a more conciliatory approach, recognising that Falun Gong was peaceful. (NTD Television)

 

As days and months turned into years, the state-sanctioned persecution has taken a heavy toll on fathers, sons and families alike, who have suffered severely and have too often been torn apart.

In modern China torture is a routine component of law-enforcement and punishment. Jiang Zemin issued his famous edict, “It is not a crime to beat a Falun Gong practitioner to death.” (en.minghui.org/)

 

Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, “Split by the State”, its release comes on Father’s Day.

The film’s director Gina Shakespeare said: “this film is dedicated to prisoners of conscience, like Ye Jia, who today number in their millions. It’s also an exposé of the Chinese regime’s relentless use of physical and psychological torture against Falun Gong adherents and their families, told through a young man’s heart.”

Ms Shakespeare recalled being deeply touched as she read Eric Jia’s original letter he wrote to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, pleading to save his dad from a Chinese prison.

 

“I knew Eric’s story needed to be told and that the letter he wrote was actually the beginning of a powerful script, one that would also move others” she said.

“Hearing that his dad was spending eight years in a Chinese prison, had been tortured, starved and subjected to filthy and inhumane living conditions, I could never fathom this type of ill-treatment, this just doesn’t happen in Australia” said Ms Shakespeare.

“Eric possesses an incredible resilience and determination. His desire for justice and to be reunited with his father, after all this time has never diminished. I really hope the Prime Minister can pressure China to release Eric’s dad urgently.”

Australia's Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull. (Alexander Nilsen)

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

Eric spends a good deal of time assisting other Falun Gong families still imprisoned in China by speaking out at rallies, collecting signatures for petitions and even calling prisons in mainland China. Surely something his father would be proud of. 

You can also help Eric and his family by sharing the film and by visiting this website and signing the petition.

www.splitbythestate.org

 

 

Read the full article here

Actress Anastasia Lin and director Leon Lee at Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., Dec. 14, for the U.S. premiere of 'The Bleeding Edge.' (Lisa Fan/ Epoch Times)Actress Anastasia Lin and director Leon Lee at Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., Dec. 14, for the U.S. premiere of 'The Bleeding Edge.' (Lisa Fan/ Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—Until the day the event was held, it was unclear whether the lead actress of the tech-thriller set in China, “The Bleeding Edge,” which saw its U.S. premier on Dec. 14, was going to be able to attend. 

Anastasia Lin, the actress and simultaneously Miss World Canada 2016, had not been given permission to attend by the organization sponsoring the pageant, which has business ties to China. The film was ultimately held without adverse event, but the pressure put on the star of the film echoes conditions that crew faced throughout the production.

Leon Lee, the director, said the biggest challenge in making the film was the casting. It was hard to find male Chinese actors who would work, he said. Under the communist regime currently ruling China, an aspiring actor wanting to advance his career and someday break into the large China film market would not choose to act in this movie.

The reason is fairly clear: The Bleeding Edge depicts the extensive government surveillance of the Chinese people, as well as the regime’s complicity in the crime of forced harvesting of organs. When actors were told the plot, they wavered. “Some backed out even after signing a contract,” Lee said.

Lee was speaking at Landmark E Street Cinema on Wednesday, at the event sponsored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He and Lin, who plays a wife, mother, and Falun Gong practitioner in the film, took questions after it was screened.

Lin, 26, is representing Canada in the Miss World beauty pageant for the second time, because she was blocked from participating in the international competition the first time she won the Canada title. It was held in China, and the Chinese authorities would not issue her a visa, declaring her persona non grata. To make up for it, this year the Miss World Organization invited her to represent her country again. Media pressure and negative publicity about efforts to prevent the actress from speaking to the press, and attending the premier, encouraged the pageant organizers to allow her attendance.

Lin was born in China and left when she was 13. Her mother moved with her to Canada to bring her up outside the influence of the communist government. After leaving China, Lin says she came to understand how the Communist Party had lied and indoctrinated her as a child.

Story of Torture

The story of the film is about two protagonists in 2005 Shanghai, whose lives connect. One is Falun Gong practitioner Chen Jing (Anastasia Lin), who with her husband is active in reaching out to ordinary Chinese about the truth behind the Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong. It is dangerous work because of the ban on the practice and the widespread indoctrination by the state which has turned most ordinary Chinese against it.

One day the security police come to their home, beat them, and take them away. Chen must sign a guarantee that she will not practice Falun Gong any more. When she refuses to agree, she is subject to intense torture, including by beating, electric shock, rape, forced feeding of salt, and bamboo sticks inserted under fingernails. Chen will eventually become a match (blood and tissue type) for someone in need of an organ transplant.

The movie is graphic in showing the torture frequently used against Falun Gong practitioners, but the violence is not dwelled upon. Some viewers may want to look away, however, at the scene where a living body is cut into. This film does not yet have a rating.

Through persistent inquiry, he learns the source of the heart beating in his body is a Falun Gong practitioner who was murdered.

The other protagonist is Western technology executive James Branton (Jay Clift) whose company is providing surveillance technology that enables the state to monitor and control Chinese citizens. He suddenly suffers a heart failure and undergoes emergency surgery whereby he receives a heart transplant. Through persistent inquiry, he learns the source of the heart beating in his body is a Falun Gong practitioner who was murdered. Feeling guilty and upset, he risks his life trying to expose the crime and prevent more falling victim to it.

The movie becomes an intense thriller as the very surveillance apparatus Branton’s company installs for Chinese security is used to track him down as he tries to save Chen from organ harvesting and warn Falun Gong practitioners in Shanghai.

Lee won the Peabody Award for the 2014 documentary “Human Harvest,” which also dealt with forced organ harvesting. “After that, the crime still going on and [so] we felt we needed to do more,” he said.

Actress Anastasia Lin and Director Leon Lee take questions from the audience at the U.S. premiere of their movie The Bleeding Edge at The Landmark Theater E Street in Washington, D.C., on December 14. (Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)

Actress Anastasia Lin and Director Leon Lee take questions from the audience at the U.S. premiere of their movie The Bleeding Edge at The Landmark Theater E Street in Washington, D.C., on December 14. (Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)

“Ninety percent of the scenes are based on true events.” While the two protagonists in the film are fiction, “the storyline of this movie is the combination of testimony of real human rights abused victims,” said Lee, who cowrote the script with Drew Parker. Lee said that he talked to victims to understand what they went through.

When their fingers were punctured by bamboo sticks, those were real things that happened. — Anastasia Lin, actress, The Bleeding Edge

“I also interviewed numerous victims,” said actress Lin, who herself practices Falun Gong. “How their physicality was affected when they were shocked by electronic batons, when their fingers were punctured by bamboo sticks, those were real things that happened.”

Lin stressed the mental torture. She interviewed victims who could speak calmly about gruesome pain, but when family members were harmed, “they would break down immediately,” she said. In the film, the prison warden used Chen’s daughter and mother to pressure her to sign a statement renouncing her beliefs. Lin can personally relate to that, because the Chinese Communist Party has brought pressure on her father who still resides in China. At their command, he has tried to persuade his daughter to stop speaking out about human rights.

A Crime Not Yet History

The number of victims is in the range of hundreds of thousands. — Leon Lee, director , The Bleeding Edge

The crime of pillaging organs from prisoners of conscience — mostly Falun Gong, Uyghurs and potentially house Christians also — is not history, said Lee and Lin. Lee said that the initial estimates of the number of victims of 10,000 to 11,000 per year, based on official Chinese data, were far too low. The latest research in “Bloody Harvest/ The Slaughter—An Update,” finds that the number of transplant surgeries annually in China is between 60,000 and 100,000. As many as 1.5 million surgeries have taken place since 2000.

“The number of victims is in the range of hundreds of thousands,” Lee said.

The figures were compiled from internal data in the hospitals where the transplants occur. About 700 hospitals in China are set up to do transplantation surgeries.

“This crime against humanity is known by the vast majority of Western governments,” Lee said. 

Read the full article here

Falun Gong practitioners raise awareness about organ harvesting and other human rights crimes in China, with residents and tourists in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 17. (Xu Touhui/Epoch Times)Falun Gong practitioners raise awareness about organ harvesting and other human rights crimes in China, with residents and tourists in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 17. (Xu Touhui/Epoch Times)

Editor’s note: This report contains graphic and potentially disturbing material.

For the past 17 years, in scores of Chinese prisons and jails, unspeakable forms of torture are still rampant.

One man, Jintao Liu, described the brutal mistreatment he endured and what it was like, in a recent Australian news segment.

He was woken up as pins were pushed into his nails and was forced to stand outside in a yard for 18 hours straight, News.com.au reported, adding that if he were to move, guards and others would beat him. The punishment at the hands of Chinese Communist Party officials caused his legs to swell up. Meanwhile, they wouldn’t allow him to use the bathroom.

Liu said it was a typical day in his life between 2006 and 2009 in labor camps and detention centers around Beijing. He was also subjected to unnecessary medical tests, forced-feedings, sexual assaults, beatings, and more.

Liu said that he was imprisoned merely for practicing Falun Gong, which is a form of meditation practice. Since 1999, adherents of the practice have been subjected to persecution at the hands of Chinese Communist officials—including extortion, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and according to recent reports, organ harvesting.

Around 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners march in the World Falun Dafa parade in New York on May 13, 2016. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Around 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners march in the World Falun Dafa parade in New York on May 13, 2016. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

According to reports published on the Minghui website, which is dedicated to detailing reports on adherents of Falun Gong, the persecution is still ongoing—with people being harassed, arrested, beaten, or even killed every day.

Day after day, the website publishes reports of persecution, including accounts of elderly women being beaten and tortured by Chinese communist officials.

Friends of Falun Gong, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization founded in 2000, notes that Chinese Communist Party’s then-leader Jiang Zemin “ordered the practice ‘eradicated’” in 1999, launching a widespread suppression of the practice. “Journalists and inside sources have described Jiang as ‘jealous’ of Falun Gong and ‘obsessed’ with eliminating the group,” it says, adding that the Chinese Communist Party has a long history of persecuting other groups including Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, as well as democracy and human rights activists. Other qigong groups similar to Falun Gong have also been banned.

Hongbin Lin, 43, who was a Chinese naval officer, said he was persecuted for his practice.

“After my third day in prison, because I refused to admit that I’ve committed a crime, the prison guards started to torture me through various methods, such as shocking me with their electric batons,” he said.

Protesters stage a performance on Dec. 10, 2004, showing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of the Chinese regime. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters stage a performance on Dec. 10, 2004, showing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of the Chinese regime. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

“There would be two electric batons, two policemen, with criminals surrounding me. They pressed me down, stepped on my legs, some grabbed my arms, twisting them behind my back,” he said. “(One of them) pressed me on the floor, with both of my legs stepped on by 10 plus people.”

He added: “Then they shocked me on my head, face, and lower body. They shocked me until their batons ran out of power.”

“After shocking me, shackling me to the iron bed frame and depriving me of sleep which lasted up to 15 days at one stretch.”

Fengying Zhang, 66, said she was abducted from her home for practicing Falun Gong in 2013. Zhange said she was never charged with a crime and was just sent to a detention center and later, a labor camp.

She described going on a hunger strike before police tried to force-feed her. “I was force-fed twice in the year 2000 when I went on hunger strike,” she said.

A painting shows Chinese police and doctors harvesting the organs of a living Falun Gong practitioner. Investigators believe thousands of Falun Gong adherents have had their organs harvested by Chinese authorities. (Minghui.org)

A painting shows Chinese police and doctors harvesting the organs of a living Falun Gong practitioner. Investigators believe thousands of Falun Gong adherents have had their organs harvested by Chinese authorities. (Minghui.org)

“That time when they force-fed me, there were four people, two of them held my head, while two of them stepped on my legs. They had me face the sky, and started force-feeding me, and I started choking.”

“They were especially brutal, when he inserted the tube, he did not do it slowly. He forced it in through the nose, down to my stomach. If the tube went the wrong way, it could pierce the lung.”

“I choked and coughed out yellow liquid, until my neck was covered with it After they were finished, I felt like I was suffocated and on the verge of death.”

But it gets worse.

On Tuesday, a group of MPs in the U.K. Parliament heard a report on the removal of organs from prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners, on an “industrial scale.”

During the Westminster Hall debate, MP Fiona Bruce said, “Despite the fact that the authors of the report have challenged—indeed asked—the Chinese government to reject their assertions, to come out and say that they are incorrect, there has been complete silence. There has been no rejection of the research or the information, or indeed of the authors’ conclusions.”

Researchers estimate that between 60,000 to 100,000 transplants have taken place in China each year since the year 2000, as compared to the official statistics from China of 10,000 to 20,000 per year.

Read the full article here

Bai Gendi. The image on the right shows her in a hospital after she was taken there by guards (Minghui)Bai Gendi. The image on the right shows her in a hospital after she was taken there by guards (Minghui)

An elderly Chinese woman allegedly suffered severe injuries at the hands of prison guards late last month, leaving her “unconsciousness and vomiting,” along with a cracked skull, according to a report this week.

Bai Gendi, 65, was sent to the emergency room at the Songjiang People’s Hospital in Shanghai, according to a report from Minghui, a website dedicated to publishing information related to Falun Gong. She’s being held at the Shanghai Women’s Prison, and has suffered abuses at the hands of the Chinese regime for refusing to stop practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline and meditation that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999 when then-leader Jiang Zemin ordered a sweeping suppression of it.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that combines slow moving exercises with teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Gong practitioners are routinely tortured, beaten, and subjected to other forms of abuse while in Chinese prisons.

Meanwhile, a report released in June estimated that as many as 1.5 million people—mostly Falun Gong practitioners—have been killed for their organs since 2000. Human rights organization Amnesty International said the Chinese regime is carrying out mass arbitrary detentions, show trials, and other human rights abuses resulting from the persecution.

Since 1999, Bai has been arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. She was first given two years of forced labor in 1999, and three months after she was released, Bai was arrested again and received another three years of forced labor, the Minghui report said. In 2006, she was arrested again and was sentenced to more than four years in prison. Later, in 2012, Bai was again arrested and got six and a half years in prison.

Photos published by the Minghui website show her in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her nose.

Prison guards told the family that she fell out of a chair, hurting herself. The family “suspects that Ms. Bai’s injuries were caused by beatings in prison,” Minghui reported, adding that she had a “bleeding skull fracture.”

Family members said she was placed into solitary confinement, forcing her to wear summer clothes—with short sleeves and pants—in freezing cells without heat in the winter.

Read the full article here

 WASHINGTON—The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)’s hearing on April 14 on systematic torture commonly used in Communist China’s detention facilities was sobering and disturbing. The witnesses provided graphic detail of what they had personally seen and experienced.
The primary purpose of torture in China is to coerce confessions to crimes. It is also employed to breakdown the subject’s will and humiliate him or her. For example, it has been employed extensively on Falun Gong adherents to make them renounce their beliefs and practice.
Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) convened the meeting by first recounting the shocking torture of lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been the subject of several hearings in the past. Gao was tortured because he “dared to represent persecuted Christians and Falun Gong [practitioners],” said Chairman Smith.
Gao remains in China under house arrest. Geng He, Gao’s wife, who now lives with the family in the U.S., submitted written testimony.
Her testimony describes that beginning in 2006 until his provisional release in 2014, Gao was subjected to many forms of torture, including beatings, and was shocked for hours with an electric baton all over his body, including his genitals.
“A country with China’s global leadership aspirations should not engage in horrific practices so thoroughly condemned by the international community,” Smith said.
A country with China’s global leadership aspirations should not engage in horrific practices so thoroughly condemned by the international community.— Christopher H. Smith, Chair Congressional-Executive Commission on China, April 14, 2016

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), cochairman of CECC, provided a written opening statement, where he states that Gao “suffered unimaginable abuse.” He mentioned that other human rights lawyers and activists, who were rounded up last July during a nationwide sweep, were being held in “black jails,” which are secret (illegal) detention locations out of sight from the scrutiny of others and the public. Some of these human rights lawyers “have been held incommunicado for nearly nine months making them especially vulnerable to mistreatment or even torture,” he wrote.
‘Three Toothbrushes’
Yin Liping, a Falun Gong practitioner from Liaoning Province, testified in person. In September 2000, she had been sent to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp for a hunger strike because she refused to abide to the Chinese regime’s policy of “transformation,” a term for forcing Falun Gong practitioners to give up their belief. She testified:
“I was cuffed to a bed and injected with unknown drugs for over two months. This caused me to temporarily lose my vision. I was also put through involuntary ultrasound, electrocardiogram, and blood tests at a nearby hospital. They injected two or three bottles each day. As a result, I developed endocrine disorders, incontinence, and had blood in my urine. In addition, their frequent violent force-feeding almost suffocated me.”
On April 19, 2001 Yin was, with eight other female practitioners, subject to a frightening night of sexual assault by male prisoners and guards.
“Four or five male inmates threw me onto the bed. Some held my arms. Some held my legs. One younger man sat on me and beat me. I became dizzy and passed out. When I [became conscious], three men were lying beside me. I realized that I had been videotaped when I was sexually attacked and humiliated by gangsters of inmates,” she said.
Yin Liping testifies before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, April 14, on “China’s Pervasive Use of Torture.” Ms. Liping is a Falun Gong practitioner who survived torture, forced labor, and sexual violence in Masanjia and other forced labor camps in communist China. (Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)

Yin witnessed the sexual assaults and crimes described in “Vaginal Coma,” by former New York Times photojournalist Du Bin,” published in July 2014.
Holding up the book, she said, “Three toothbrushes were tied together, and inserted into and stirred up female private parts. I saw with my own eyes a group of men beating an elderly Falun Gong practitioner in the restroom. They forcefully inserted a broken broom stick into her private part.”
Yin’s story is featured in Du Bin’s documentary, “Above the Ghost’s Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp.” In August 2013, she escaped from China to Thailand. In December 2015, she was granted refugee status in the United States.
I realized that I had been videotaped when I was sexually attacked and humiliated by gangsters of inmates.— Yin Liping, Falun Gong practitioner

Tiger Chair
Jigme Gyatso (a.k.a. Golog Jigme), Tibetan monk, was originally from Sichuan Province and later worked in Gansu Province with filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was imprisoned six years for making a film on Tibetan life. Jigme was also detained and severely tortured for two months in 2008, and abused again but less brutally treated in 2009 and 2012. He summarized the first incarceration of 2008:
“For one month and 22 days I was tortured continuously. I was forced to sit in the ‘tiger chair’ … day and night. … My arms were handcuffed in front of me on a small metal table, and my legs were bent beneath the seat and strapped to the chair with iron cuffs. My joints suffered horribly and at one point my feet became so swollen that all my toenails fell off. I still have scars on my wrists and ankles from when I was turned backwards in the chair and suspended from the ceiling, for hours at a time. I was deprived of sleep and given very little to eat, and felt unbearably thirsty…”
At the UN Committee against Torture review of China in Geneva last November, Jigme Gyatso heard a Chinese official defend the tiger chair as providing protection and safety of the detainees. “I spent days and nights in such a chair; it was horrific torture,” he said.
Tibetan monk, Tibetan language education advocate, and filmmaker Jigme Gyatso (a.k.a. Golog Jigme) testifies before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, April 14, on “China’s Pervasive Use of Torture.” He was severely tortured by Chinese public security personnel in 2008, 2009, and 2012. (Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)
At the end of the hearing, Chairman Smith remarked that the contention that these restraints are for the protection of the detainee was “absurd.”
Human Rights Watch wrote about a death row

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On Nov. 18, the United Nations Committee Against Torture had a hearing on China that revealed more than the Chinese delegation may have intended about the regime’s attitude toward torture.
Wu Hailong, the head of Chinese delegation, had submitted a report. The committee’s experts responded with questions, and the Chinese delegation replied. Even though Wu’s report claimed that China had achieved important progress in promoting human rights, the experts on the panel were not convinced.
Some answers by the Chinese delegation made people wonder if it really understood the meaning of torture.
Some answers by the Chinese delegation made people wonder if it really understood the meaning of torture.

For example, the delegation claimed that solitary confinement was a management tool, not a punitive measure. It also claimed that the interrogation chair was used as a protective and security measure to prevent suspects from hurting themselves.
From the replies of the Chinese delegation, one can easily get the impression that in China torture is a common practice. It is so common that the officials didn’t realize that in their denials they actually admitted the practice of widespread torture.
From the replies of the Chinese delegation, one can easily get the impression that in China torture is a common practice.

Lawyers Tortured
The written responses in October specified that 10,000 judges and 24,039 procuratorial staff had received anti-torture training since 2012. This training has not prevented the use of torture, however.
Torture is applied by the police, the procuratorate, and even the court. The responses said the lawyers, who could only be the victims, not the perpetrators of torture, were the only ones who violated the laws.
A typical case occurred in Jiansanjiang in far northeastern Heilongjiang Province. The written responses stated that the lawyers were detained for “activities disturbing the social order.” The responses forgot, accidentally or intentionally, to mention that the “activities” were requesting the release of Falun Gong practitioners who were illegally detained in a brainwashing center. The brainwashing center is also known as a black jail—black jails happened to be another of committee’s concerns.
Protesters stage a performance on Dec. 10, 2004, showing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of the Chinese regime. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)
The responses said that none of the lawyers was tortured, but a medical examination had found that the four detained lawyers had suffered a total of twenty-four broken ribs.
Another strange thing involved the delegation’s responses about the prosecution of those guilty of torture. According to the delegation, “there were plenty of cases of prosecuting torture offenders,” but none of these was among the high profile cases—such as Jiansanjiang—the committee asked about.
Different Definition
Obviously, the Chinese delegation didn’t consider the lawyers’ broken ribs to be the result of torture or mistreatment. The Chinese delegation explained that the definition of torture in China is different from the U.N. Convention due to China having a different culture and language.
This is very true. The culture is the Chinese Communist Party culture established after the CCP took over China in 1949. In the CCP’s dictionary, breaking ribs is called “enforcing the law.” In the rest of the world, it’s called torture.
In the CCP’s dictionary, breaking ribs is called ‘enforcing the law.’

In most cases addressed by the committee, the delegation bluntly denied the existence of torture, although its use could easily be confirmed.
After reading the written responses, I found that the delegation didn’t even need to do any research or investigation to make the replies it did. Most of the delegation’s answers consisted of either simply cutting and pasting the text of laws and regulations or totally denying certain individual cases had occurred. The delegation did this in such a perfunctory way that it didn’t even bother to check for mistakes before submitting.
MORE:Review by UN Torture Committee Puts China Abuses Under SpotlightSeeking Justice in a Lawless ChinaThe Story Behind a Letter From Hell
For instance, the written responses denied the allegation of organ harvesting by quoting the “Regulation on Human Organ Transplantation.” The regulation was issued in a hurry in 2007, very likely as the response to the exposure of alleged organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in 2006. How does a 2007 regulation prove the non-existence of an alleged crime exposed a year earlier?
The written responses also claimed that “shuanggui”—the abusive interrogation of CCP members who are suspected of violating Party regulations—is part of the legal system and Party discipline in China. Actually, shuanggui is Party discipline, but definitely not part of the legal system.
Party Culture
To understand the situation in China and the strange behavior of Chinese officials, we need to look at the CCP’s history.
Torture has always been part of communist revolution and rule. In 1930, when the Red Army was still under siege in Jiangxi, Mao Zedong initiated an internal cleansing campaign to establish his absolute authority inside the Red Army.
His target was the non-existent organization called Anti-Bolshevik. Since there was no such organization, all confessions had to be extracted by torture. The campaign lasted several months and 70,000 Red Army personnel were killed. Many of them were tortured to death. Others were slaughtered.
A decade later, similar torture methods were used in the Yan’an Rectification Movement. The movement was also initiated by Mao to eliminate the influence of other factions inside the Party and to establish Mao’s absolute power in the Party leadership. One of the victims, Wang Shiwei, a journalist and writer, was wrongfully charged and arrested at the time. He was executed by an ax, probably to save a bullet.
One purpose of [the CCP’s] political campaigns is to find the worst persons and then recruit them into the Party.

After the CCP took over China, torture was expanded to the whole nation, accompanied by numerous political campaigns, from wiping out land owners in the early 1950s to the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong. One purpose of these political campaigns is to find the worst persons and then recruit them into the Party. They become the next generation leaders and the perpetrators of more torture. In the meantime, the concepts and methods of

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Dong Zhen shares her tale of imprisonment and torture in China for her practice of Falun Gong. She took part in a march through the streets of Toronto in support of others who have faced similar fates in China. (Matthew Little/Epoch Times)Dong Zhen shares her tale of imprisonment and torture in China for her practice of Falun Gong. She took part in a march through the streets of Toronto in support of others who have faced similar fates in China. (Matthew Little/Epoch Times)

TORONTO—It was six months living in Canada before Zhen Dong stopped looking over her shoulder, stopped wondering if the person walking behind her might work for the security forces or have ill intentions.

That was 2009. On Oct. 10, six years later, she is marching through the streets of downtown Toronto with hundreds like her, showing their support for the over 180,000 people in China and some 27 other countries who have filed lawsuits against former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.

Most of those lawsuits were filed by people who still live in China. It is a bold challenge to the man who sent so many like them to their deaths.

Most of those lawsuits were filed by people who still live in China. It is a bold challenge to the man who sent so many like them to their deaths.

For Zhen, today is a happy day. She is free and doing what she believes. Her story begins with a love of her traditional culture

 

‘Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance’

Zhen had a passion for traditional Chinese philosophy, and had studied Buddhism and Daoism looking for insight into life.

“The books of Falun Gong explained further from what I was seeking, regarding the ancient wisdom of Chinese culture,” she explained.

“Falun Gong is based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. I do think these are the universal values for people all over the world.” 

Like some 100 million others, she eventually took up Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. Introduced in China in 1992, it is a practice of meditation and self-improvement that rapidly gained popularity through word of mouth due to its benefits to physical and mental health. 

Every weekend at a large stadium near South China Normal University in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, where Zhen attended school, some 6,000 would gather to practice. 

“The practice of Falun Gong really made them experience being a healthy person. I think that’s the main reason people spend time, one hour or two hours in the morning, to practice,” she said. 

“I was just one of them.”

Zhen was one of three people who used to bring the music player used for the exercise music. For this reason, police would later label her a key organizer—a label that came with a heavy burden within the Chinese labour camp system. 

In 1999, former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong and began an intense effort to vilify the practice. There were sporadic arrests before that, but overnight a massive campaign of persecution was launched.

 

‘It’s a Good Practice’ That Benefits People

Zhen said that at first she was naive. She thought it was all a misunderstanding, and made several attempts to appeal to the government.

“I really wished to let the government know that from my personal experience, it’s a good practice. It is something benefitting people and the government should allow it to go on.”

It would take being kidnapped four times and being tortured in a labour camp before she finally understood that it did not matter if Falun Gong was innocent, and it was not a misunderstanding. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), acting under Jiang, simply wanted the practice extinguished, at any cost to the Chinese people or the nation.

I just cannot believe, if I did not experience it myself, that there were so many kinds of torture.

— Zhen Dong, Falun Gong practitioner

Zhen’s first arrest was on July 22 in 1999, two days after the persecution began. She tried to fly directly to Beijing to appeal. But police had already identified her as a so-called organizer, as undercover security forces had been taking photographs and documenting Falun Gong practitioners for months before the persecution was officially launched. 

“At the airport, I was not able to get onto the airplane. I was actually kidnapped to a small room and kept there. Then I saw many others kept in that room.”

Police tried to force them to watch CCTV, the state broadcaster, and newscasts vilifying the practice, but to the people locked in that room it was just so much nonsense. 

“It didn’t tell the truth. From our own personal experience, together with thousands of people who practiced every week, we knew very well it was a good practice, so it is not something the government can turn over from white to black overnight.”

She was 23 at the time, in her last year of her post-graduate studies in English literature. She found the idea of the government trying to force her and others to give up the practice ridiculous. 

“But this is not the way the Chinese government likes the young people to think. I was going to get into big trouble.”

 

Arrests and Detentions

Zhen’s repeated attempts to appeal and the fact that she helped bring the music to the practice site would turn her into a target. 

Each detention would get more severe. In total she would spend nearly two years in detention centres and labour camps.

Her last arrest came one night when she was visiting friends, fellow Falun Gong practitioners. They were five people, about to have dinner. Police called it an “illegal gathering.” 

“You can be put in jail because of this. You get together. You speak to people who practice Falun Gong. After so many years, looking back, it is totally absurd that if you speak to a fellow practitioner, that can put you in jail.”

There was no trial. They were just taken away, first to a detention centre, then to a labour camp. When Zhen was given a reason for her incarceration, she was incredulous. She was accused of disturbing the social order.

“That was funny because I was visiting my friends, and we were talking inside the house. And that is how they regarded me as disturbing the social order. That happened in 1999.”

 

Torture, Beatings

That was the last time Zhen saw many of her friends. They were put into different detention centres, then different labour camps, and given different sentences. Some of those friends lost their lives. Zhen keeps herself composed telling the story, but she begins to swallow more frequently, and the lighthearted smile that is her normal expression fades away. One of those who passed was a very dear friend.

“He was put into a male labour camp and lost his life. It was 2002 or 2003, I can’t remember exactly. I heard later he was beaten very severely with the electric baton because he continued to practice, even when he was in jail.”

She knows of too many tales like this. Her own story could have easily ended the same way. She was also beaten severely, and tortured in ways that she didn’t think were possible. She said she never imagined there could be so many ways to torture a person. 

“I just cannot believe, if I did not experience it myself, that there were so many kinds of torture. They actually give them names like flying the airplane.”

This torture requires the victim to bend over with the arms extended and to stand that way for hours. “And then they will kick you with big boots.”

It is excruciating. And unlike other forms of torture, it does not exhaust the guards. As bizarre as it may sound, beatings and other forms of torture can be physically taxing. That is the reason one of Zhen’s torture sessions ended.

A police woman had taken her to a private cell and then beat her with heavy shoes.

“She beat every part with the shoes, [using them] like weapons, until she became tired. It was not me that became tired, she beat and beat until she became tired.”

Zhen was then put into a private cell, where others would not see her wounds. This is one of the methods used to keep torture secret. 

“At that time, I was kind of scared, because I thought if I died there my family would never know where I died and why I died,” she recalls. She says she was lucky, as many others did not survive, and for many the story of their deaths remains hidden from the world. 

But even then, Zhen still had some hope the Chinese regime would realize the goodness of Falun Gong. She still had hope that the efforts of detained practitioners to tell the guards and prison officials about the peaceful practice would help them realize these were just people who wanted to follow their belief, to try to achieve truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in their everyday lives. These are the ideals that guide Falun Gong practitioners in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. 

Looking back, Zhen thinks maybe she was too naive. When asked what made her change her mind about the regime, what made her give up hope that the communist regime would come to a better understanding of Falun Gong, she said it was after she had experienced too much torture.

 

Life in a Labour Camp

For much of the nearly two years she spent in detention, Zhen was at a labour camp on a lake island in Guangzhou. It took a ferry trip to get there. 

Her days consisted of 16 hours of making plastic flowers for export. She knew they were for export by the English packaging and from comments from staff at the labour camp. 

“Very bad food, very little sleep, very long hours of labour—that is the life of the labour camp,” she said.

One memory that sticks with her is when the relative of a practitioner smuggled a copy of Zhuan Falun into the prison. This book is the main text of Falun Gong. 

“That was very important to us,” Zhen said.

The book was eventually seized by a prison guard. This prompted about 10 practitioners to go on a hunger strike. About a week in, Zhen gave in because there were threats of force feeding, a violent procedure that often results in internal wounds. 

“I have a fellow practitioner, and he was the first person who died in Guangzhou and it was because of the force feeding. His name was Gao Xianmin.”

“I was afraid some disaster may happen so I gave up the hunger strike, but three of my friends did not give up.”

After the force feeding, they were covered in blood. That’s when Zhen saw something she didn’t believe was possible: The hair of one of her friends turned white overnight. 

“Now I believe a person’s hair can turn white overnight because of the pressure, the torture. This is something I cannot forget.”

Zhen was released when her family members signed a contract with the prison that they would monitor her outside the labour camp and prevent her from practicing Falun Gong. Often families are charged severe fines as well, but Zhen’s family escaped that injustice. 

 

Escape to Canada

That was 2001. Zhen then tried to resume her studies. But when she applied to the Ph.D. program, she was told she would not be able to pass the political exam due to her history of practicing Falun Gong.

“At that time I realized I would never get any chance in China, not in my study or future career.”

There is a policy in China that all government-related departments and offices cannot employ Falun Gong practitioners.

“Freedom and democracy are just like the air for everyone. We all need it, but it is unfortunate that in China, they don’t have it.”

Zhen found one job though; she managed to attend a private university to become a teacher. She then planned her exit from China, to immigrate to Canada. 

By then she was married. This was after an engagement that had been stretched to eight years, as both she and her fiance completed various sentences in prison and labour camps for practicing Falun Gong. 

She chose Canada as her new homeland and made her way here in 2009. 

The day she left China, she was scared. She wondered if the guards at the airport would arrest her like they did that first time she had tried to fly to Beijing from Guangzhou. They didn’t.

“I just felt like a bird flying in the sky, the moment I left China. Of course, I felt sad at the same time because it is the country I was born and grew up in. And I knew I would not be back for a long time.”

Zhen remembers crying the first time she attended a group study site in Canada. It was 10 years after the last such study group she had attended in China.

Since then she has joined many activities and worked to raise awareness of the persecution still ongoing in China. She shares a deep appreciation for her life in Canada. 

“I believe all people deserve this freedom, including all the people in China,” she says.

“Freedom and democracy are just like the air for everyone. We all need it, but it is unfortunate that in China, they don’t have it.”

Zhen said she didn’t immediately realize how different Canada was. For the first six months she was here, she still felt the phantom pressure that haunts Chinese people.

“I think I was still under the pressure and fear, looking around to see whether there was some suspicious people around me. It is just something very deeply instilled in your mind.”

But step by step the fear melted away. Zhen said it is like something in your blood that has to be purified. Time helps. 

“I don’t have such fear anymore. I can feel and breathe and think just like any person in a free world. I am just enjoying the best state of being a person, being a human.”

 

Suing Jiang Zemin

Zhen is among those filing lawsuits against Jiang. She is still writing out all the details of her persecution. The imprisonment, the torture, the things she saw inflicted on her friends. 

She said some people in China don’t yet realize the nature of the Chinese Communist Party, the regime that rules the country. For others, it is just too hard to speak out. They are afraid. The CCP has the police, the courts, and a massive security force. For those who realize the sinister nature of this regime, speaking out is a terrifying prospect. 

“I do believe that a lot of Chinese people live in fear all their lives. Even they might be wealthy, they might be better off than before, but such fear will never go away. So this kind of mentality will haunt them all their lives.”

The result is this: They live their lives avoiding the wrath of the regime, obeying whatever the government says, trying to act the way they are supposed to act, think the way they are supposed to think.

Jiang is now facing more than 180,000 criminal lawsuits for his central role in orchestrating the violent persecution of Falun Gong. Under the current climate in China, many of Jiang’s allies are being imprisoned on corruption charges by CCP leader Xi Jinping. 

Many of those marching in Toronto on Oct. 10 believe it is just a matter of time before Jiang is among those being purged in China.

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