Broken Families … Broken Hearts
Elizabeth: My husband is Haiying He. He’s a doctor and works as a medical researcher. Haiying got his MD in Chongching and PhD in Beijing and came to the United States in 1995 as a visiting fellow at the National Institute of Health in Maryland. That’s where we met. […]
Elizabeth: I never got a chance to meet Haiying’s family. Less than one year after we got married, Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong and began to persecute it.
Haiying’s whole family had been practicing Falun Gong since 1995. […] His father is a music teacher. His mother and sister are both teachers, and his brother is also a doctor. They were a very happy family. Now all of them are suffering. His mother and sister were sentenced to labor camps for one and a half years, and put under house arrest when they were released. His father was also detained, and his brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Haiying: My younger brother is a doctor, a physician, in a big hospital […]He’s very warm-hearted and tried to help others. In that area, there’re a lot of retired workers, retired teachers. They want to learn the exercises; they want to read together. He went to senior citizen group and helped them to correct their movement, how to exercise.
Riordan: The persecution of Falun Gong began on July 20, 1999. In the month before, JZ initiated the 610 Office – a Gestapo-like organization used to implement the persecution of Falun Gong. JZ’s regime has constantly issued various secret orders against Falun Gong thru the 610 Office. From the directive to physically destroy FG practitioners to FG practitioners being tortured to death is counted as suicide and do not identify the body, cremate locally. The 610 office uses three methods to persecute FG practitioners: Brainwashing, torture, and propaganda.
NARRATOR: After the crackdown began, Haiying’s brother and his wife – both doctors in the same hospital – were subjected to detention and brainwashing. Haiying’s brother was ultimately forced to make a choice – give up his beliefs or be fired from his job. He eventually was fired.
Haiying: After that he still kept telling people when he had a chance to how good FG is and what the government is doing to FG is wrong. And he was arrested. […]
Elizabeth: I only talk to his family through the telephone, the international phone calls. His whole family, everyone […] they’re all very nice people[…] Falun Gong made them benefit so much and I love them.
Yufeng: Haiying is a friend of mine. […] I really understand his feeling. I had the same similar situation because my sister had been detained for over three years, and I got no news from her at all.
NARRATOR: Yufeng’s sister, Shaolin, is a 51-year-old librarian. In October 1999, while she was on her way to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong, Shaolin was seized by police in Guangzhou and sent to a local labor camp. She was later sentenced to two years of forced labor in a Guangdong Province labor camp.
Yufeng: But after the two-year period passed, she wasn’t released at all. My parents were allowed to visit her but only one or two times. After that, nobody was allowed to visit her anymore. […] And since then I have no idea what happens to her.
NARRATOR: Haiying and Yufeng’s stories are not isolated cases. Many citizens and residents throughout the United States are suffering similar heartache as their families are torn apart.
Stephen: We’re in Chicago; it’s the middle of winter here. They call it the windy city and it’s often 5 degrees below zero or even colder. Yet every day senior citizens come out here opposite the Chinese consulate and sit in protest against the persecution of Falun Gong. Sun Wei Feng is here. She’s here because her cousin is unjustly imprisoned in a labor camp in China.
Dana: Hundreds of thousands have been detained and sent to labor camps. Well over 500 have been tortured to death, over a thousand people have been forced into mental hospital to receive nerve-damaging drugs. The persecution has affected over 70 million people, and their family members, friends, employers, and colleagues. Not a single corner in China has not been hurt by the persecution.
NARRATOR: Before the Chinese government’s change in policy, officials sponsored national health studies and were recommending Falun Gong to the public. People began seeing such positive results from the practice that they didn’t want to give it up.
Dana: Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese practice. It teaches five sets of very gentle exercise. The main principle is simple but profound -- truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It has taught millions of people to live healthier, more peaceful and follow a high moral principle.
Stephen: In China, over 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong in 1999. This made the head of the Communist party in China, JZ, so jealous that he ordered everyone who practiced Falun Gong to be severely punished. Today hundreds of thousands are being unjustly detained.
Alan: There are people dying every day. That’s quite urgent. The Chinese government has some significant problems of their own and they’re wasting the resources of the entire country persecuting physical exercise. It just doesn’t make any sense and to have innocent people who are just trying to better their health going to jail, having families disrupted, mothers separated from their children – this is just unconscionable.
Haiying: [My mother] before she practiced, she suffered a lot from many kinds of diseases, the typical ones like gallstones. But actually at that time she got a stone in the liver. She suffered a lot and that actually made her temper really bad.
After she practiced, after a couple of months, one day she realized she can eat meat. Before, she couldn’t eat meat because that would trigger the pain in her abdomen. Oh, this really works! She was retired and she was asked to do an annual physical examination. … They found out by ultrasonic device that that stone was not there. So that was amazing. She was so excited, she wanted to share this very good meditation system—this was really great to share with all the people. So a lot of people learned the practice and start to know the principles of FG from her, to get a book. Automatically she was a contact person, she volunteered to be a contact person in that area… There are many, many people like her; they serve as assistants in different cities. But that was used as an excuse to arrest her – because she was a contact person.
Danielle: This is my dad -- he was sentenced to jail as a Falun Dafa practitioner and one of the four key contact person of China for Falun Gong so, 16 years in jail.
My dad was dragged away from home early on the morning July 20th, 1999. So the persecution has been three years and my dad has been jailed by the Chinese government for three years.
He told my aunts that he was put on a small bench for 7 whole days without any sleep at all when he was first arrested. I would be really tired if I didn’t sleep for two days. So I can’t even image how badly he has suffered. Some people say he was tortured. We don’t have any solid evidence, but so far as I know, he has several missing teeth. Also when my aunts visited him lat year, they told me he coughed constantly and lost some weight, so I am really concerned about his health condition and how he is treated in jail.
I want to cry my heart out to call for help for my dad, and all the practitioners persecuted in China.
Alan: There are currently about 40 families affected by this throughout the United States, where they have their loved ones incarcerated in China simply for practicing the Falun Gong exercises. In particular we are focusing currently on a Dr. Michael Yang’s sister. Dr. Yang is a psychiatrist in Philadelphia. Originally he was apprehensive about coming to us for support. He was uncertain as to whether going public with this case would bring more problems to his sister than benefit. We don’t know what her current condition is but we are advocating for her release.
NARRATOR: Zhang Yuhui has been sentenced to 10 years in jail, just for writing articles about Falun Gong on a Chinese website. His once happy family is now broken into pieces. His young daughter had to be left behind with relatives when his wife and 5-year-old son were forced to move from Macao to the United States. Because of the persecution, everyone was afraid to hire Yuhui’s wife, Celia Wang. She worked in the publications industry, which is where she met her husband. But Celia couldn’t get work anywhere and couldn’t earn any money to live on. She and her son now walk an hour every day to Chinatown in New York to sell shoes, caps and gloves out of a small shopping cart that they push through the streets. During the winter when it’s so cold, her little son cuddles inside a cardboard box to get warm.
NARRATOR: The persecution plays no favorites. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives – all are targets.
Sam: It was November 1999, I had to go on a business trip to Kunming. When I came back, I found my wife gone. Later I found out that the reason for her arrest was that she had distributed some Falun Gong flyers on the street.
Practitioners who were released from SanShui jail told me that under the conditions in that prison, if you do not give up your believe and your willpower is not strong, you would go insane. I am really very, very concerned for my wife.
The policemen would order a few prisoners to “look after you” 24 hours a day, no matter if you are eating, sleeping, go to rest room, take shower -- they will follow you everywhere. They don’t allow you to practice, or even to talk to others. For those Falun Gong practitioners who refuse to give up, they tie them up under the burning sun in the summer and freeze them outdoors with little clothes on in the winter. They tied up my wife’s hands and feet because she did not want to give up the practice.
Listening to all of this, my heart really aches. In addition to the lack of nutrition, inhuman treatment, and intense mental pressure, her mother told me that her eyes are almost blind.
My wife’s mother also told me, “As the situation of Falun Gong in China is like this today, even if she could get out of jail, because she is a Falun Gong practitioner, she would not be able to get a passport to meet you in the United States. Maybe you should find another girl to be your wife”. I told her immediately, “ no matter what happens to Feifei, I will wait for her for ever.”
Alan: I think it’s fairly common knowledge to China watchers that they are trying to eradicate FG and they’re using all the resources of the state to do so. We are trying to shine the light on what’s going on over there. We find that with government support, support of human rights organizations, the support of everybody helps to deter the violence going on over there.
NARRATOR: The persecution of Falun Gong is unceasing and continues to escalate as the Jiang regime attempts to eliminate it. But strong condemnation from the international community has actually helped to reduce the violence. Recently, The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong was formed. So, there is a strong global effort being made to discourage further criminal conduct and hold those committing the atrocities accountable for their actions.
The governments and citizens of many countries have been working toward getting family members released. The Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to discuss the issue with Jiang Zemin at the the 2002 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Mexico. Along with Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia have also been successful in winning early releases from imprisoned family members. And the United States government has been very supportive. Sam Lu of Georgia was able to get a letter forwarded to his wife with the assistance of his congressmen.
Stephen: We’re confident that as the people of the US come to understand how terrible and unjust this persecution of the practitioners of FG in China really is, that they too will join together with the voices of those in other countries around the world to bring out of China FG practitioners who have been unjustly detained.
NARRATOR: Although contact with imprisoned family members is highly restricted, and many don’t know where their loved ones are being held, sometimes a message of hope does manage to make it through.
Yufeng: I would like
to say a few words to my sister, in case someone can get this message to
her…Dear Sister, I sincerely hope that you will be released soon, because
I miss you very much. You took good care of me when I was young, and I am doing my very best to help you. I will try all I can to get people to help you, and others like you. We’re trying to get you released so you won’t have to suffer the pain of persecution any longer.
Stephen: The message is this persecution is completely unacceptable to Americans. Bring our family members home. Release all Falun Gong practitioners now.