Updated: Dec 3, 2022
In an award-winning Epoch Cinema Original documentary, a former journalist for the Communist Party of China, Yifei Wang, tells the true story of her family’s persecution for being part of the religious minority of Falun Gong in China.
In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party ordered the eradication of the meditation practice called Falun Gong. Millions of families were torn apart and no one in China was allowed to talk about the subject. Jiang Zemin, leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the time, said he would defeat Falun Gong. His orders were: “Ruin their reputations. Bankrupt them financially. Destroy them physically.” The regime created a special agency to accomplish this, called the 610 Office, and its offices quickly sprung up around the country. They were to deploy any and all resources to suppress Falun Gong.
According to a former Chinese media worker, “all media reported that these people hurt themselves, could cause harm, or be aggressive.” A former regime propaganda official said that newspapers, radio, and TV were all in sync and full of slanderous reports. “They utilized the whole society for the suppression.” The media told people to follow atheism, reject Falun Gong, and keep their faith in communism. “One perspective. One belief. Everyone must follow that.”
Up to today, the CCP has carried out more than 50 persecution campaigns. A former Consul and diplomat for the regime explains that the doctrine of communism is “based on killing. Killing to scare people… to make fear to keep its rule.”
Yifei and Her Sister
Yifei Wang was a journalist for the regime. She stood with the students on Tiananmen square in 1989. “I know what the regime can do. One can’t really imagine it unless one experiences it for themselves.” She says that “if the story of my family goes public, I know it will bring [them] a lot of danger. Maybe they will go after my family members, but I must do it. If I can’t expose what they did to us, then all of our suffering will be for nothing.”
In the early 90s, members of the state media and even regime officials used to practice Falun Gong and encouraged others to do so too. Falun Gong is a traditional way of self-improvement from the Buddha school. It teaches five exercises, and to live by the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance in daily life. The practice spread like wildfire across the country. “We did nothing wrong, but it was too traditional. Too spiritual. And it became too popular. The regime couldn’t tolerate that.” Yifei saw the health of her parents, who had been sick and in and out of hospitals for over 30 years, improve. Having her parents happy and healthy again meant the world to her and her siblings, who began practicing Falun Gong as well.
Yifei’s husband was also a journalist. He was able to use his high-ranking connections to keep her out of prison, but he wasn’t able to save her sister, who was arrested simply for appealing to the government to stop the persecution by holding up a banner during a peaceful protest. Her banner said “Falun Gong is good.” Her sister was sent to a labor camp without a trial. After four months of not being allowed to visit her, they got a call in the middle of the night and were told to go to the detention center immediately. A fellow prisoner who had been a witness tells of the torture her sister had endured for refusing to stop meditating, including cruelly force feeding her until blood came out of her nose, tying her arms and legs spread out on a “death bed,” poking her eyes with needles, and beating her face if she fell asleep. When they finally let the family see her, the skin, muscle, and blood on her face were all mushed together and she was naked from the waist down. They told the family that she died of a heart attack.
Yifei went on the run for many years in China to avoid being arrested, and eventually fled to the United States. Now she fulfills her father’s wish of sharing the story of her family and seeking justice for the murder of her sister, and the millions of other Chinese victims of the persecution.
Yifei’s brother was sentenced to thirteen years in a labor camp for printing flyers containing information about Falun Gong, according to the official court verdict. Her brother’s lawyer was threatened by the government and told if he kept helping the family he would not be allowed to practise law anymore.
A former member of the Secret Police said that they would work with national security agencies and even the military for their raids and arrests. Most of the high-profile arrests he made were for printing and distributing flyers. “The regime is most afraid of printing, copying, and distributing materials that will allow more people to know the truth about Falun Gong.” He said all those arrested end up in prison.
Yifei’s brother was a smart and successful man, who made all the decisions for his family. His wife recounts that their family was ordinary and peaceful, each day they went to work and their child went to school. One day, her husband did not come home. She looked everywhere but could not find him. About 20 days later, a man who had just been released from prison called her and told her that he had seen her husband beaten so badly he was paralyzed. When they went to the prison they were not allowed to see him, and when people heard that his case was related to Falun Gong, no one would help.
When her husband was eventually released from prison, he didn’t know what anything was—even simple household objects like a kettle. His wish was to go to America and expose the persecution he and his family had experienced. He called China “a prison, full of prisons” saying he had to expose them (the CCP). “It’s all I can do.” He tells his story of being tortured with an electric baton, and how places on his body are still only bone covered by skin. His wounds became infected and he saw the rotting flesh fall from his body. He said he witnessed other prisoners being tortured to death.
One form of torture in the prison camp involved beds—on which people were stretched to death. When they were about to die they would be released on emergency medical grounds only to die at home shortly after. The documentary shows horrifying footage of “stretched” victims.
His wife asked her husband to stop sharing his memories and torture experiences with others, saying it broke her heart and filled her with fear every time she heard them. He replied, “Although these are very painful memories, and I don’t like remembering them, I feel I need to expose the evil of the regime. This is something I should do.” His hope is that good people will step forward and demand justice for the Chinese people who are still suffering.
Yifei’s brother built a replica of an iron chair that he was tortured on, demonstrating how they would strap him in and damage his shoulder and back muscles, as well as use a plastic bag to suffocate him. When he was close to death, they would open a little part of the bag, let in a tiny bit of air and then do it over again. They also poured water on people’s genitals and electrocuted that part of the body. His replica chair is now being used in exhibits to educate others about what happens to Falun Gong prisoners and to show the endurance and faith of the adherents.
What Motivates Regime Officials?
Former regime officials and police officers explain how torturing prisoners can earn them rewards and bonuses. A former propaganda official said that “after the Cultural Revolution, your whole being became empty, with no faith in anything. So the only things people have faith in now are material things and money, which are what the regime promotes.” The regime controls people by controlling their livelihoods. Only by staying within the system can you have a decent life, but if you step outside the system, you will be punished.
Yifei said that it’s not unusual for the labor camps to be located on a main road or in a big city. “The regime wants us to know they are there. They want us to fear them.” She recounts how the regime had kidnapped her younger sister’s son, who was about eight at the time.“They just kidnap whenever they want to.” In prison, adherents are told to transform, which means to be brainwashed into following the regime. The electric baton is used to do the “transformation.”
Courage and Truth Are the Keys to Change
“Thirty years the river flows east, thirty years the river flows west. Things will change, but we can’t just wait,” says Yifei. “We must speak out, we must not stop, we must continue to tell the truth.” Yifei and her brother now tell people the facts about the Chinese Communist regime and details about the persecution of the Falun Gong. Their messages are used in partnership with others around the world to put pressure on the Chinese regime to stop the persecution of Falun Gong, and in the long term, end the regime and bring freedom for the Chinese people. A former regime judge says that he knows doing this means taking risks, “but if no one is willing to stand up, our society will just become worse.” Former regime officials say they left China because they were shocked by the persecution they saw. “I realized the regime is destroying humanity,” said a former Army colonel.
Yifei quotes an old saying, “‘dripping water chisels through stone.’ No matter how powerful an evil may be, the only way to defeat it is with the courage to defend your values and to never give up.” Of her time in America, she says “I’m surrounded by clean air and blue skies, and I love this freedom. It’s changed how I see the world, and it’s given me hope.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
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