When Falun Gong practitioner Yue Changzhi was taken to Beijing Women’s Prison in 2004, she said she stood tall and proud. One week later, she was bent and limping. One month later, her body had buckled to a hunchback position.
“They tried to brainwash me. They punched me, dragged me and kicked me; they tried to break my fingers, then fold my wrists back,” she said. Authorities had arrested her in order to try to force her to renounce her belief in Falun Gong.
All she had to do was sign a renunciation form or agree that the spiritual meditation practice called Falun Gong was not good, but she refused, because that was against her belief in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The authorities then moved her into the notorious torture position known as “The Stretch”, reserved for practitioners that did not respond to more routine beatings.
“They separated my legs as one line on the floor and then they grabbed me by the collar and pressed down. My spine went ‘boom!’ My back cracked in three sections. At that time, I nearly died. They asked me: ‘Will you still practise Falun Gong?’ I said: ‘Yes, I will.’ Yet they continued to press my body onto my lap; my spine bone, especially the waist part, was excruciating.” Each time, they asked her if she would continue to practise Falun Gong and each time she said: ‘Yes, I will!’ They only released her after they could see she was suffocating.
She was 65 years old.
Yue was later granted refugee status and is now a permanent resident of Australia. She is as feisty and energetic as those half her age, and she can now practice her exercises freely. Much of the damage done while she was incarcerated has been healed through practicing the meditation exercises, she says. Her back, however, still does not completely straighten.
Benefits of Falun Gong
Yue’s story is one of thousands of similar stories from Chinese practitioners of the ancient meditation and exercise practice called Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. It was suddenly officially banned in China in July 1999 by then-leader Jiang Zemin, and to this day, practitioners in China remain severely persecuted.
Yue began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. Like millions of Chinese people at that time, the unique “cultivation” practice had brought great health benefits. One colleague she remembered had injured his back so that he was forced to wear a metal frame. After practicing Falun Gong, he was able to move around like a young man and no longer needed the metal support, Yue said.
After taking up the practice, besides the health benefits, Yue said she had also begun to be a better person, including working harder and more tirelessly in her electrical engineering job. She was praised openly and asked to speak publicly about the benefits of Falun Gong, which she continues to share with other people to this day.
“It is so mysterious, so great,” she said.
Once the persecution began, however, attitudes to Falun Gong changed. Yue’s house was ransacked by security forces, her computer stolen and her Falun Dafa materials confiscated. By 2000, the police were searching for her, demanding she give herself in and undergo endless hours of brainwashing, deprivation, abuse and derogatory remarks about FG, with the idea of breaking her down and forcing her to renounce her beliefs.
Yue went into hiding, but was eventually captured, tortured and for the next four years forced to endure endless rounds of abuse, sleep deprivation and humiliation.
“They would organize criminals in the detention centre to punch me and abuse me,” she said, “and other times they would not let me go to the toilet for 24 hours at a time. Then, they would make me march—marching, marching for hours.”
Finally, she was coerced to sign a renunciation form as a result of drugs hidden in her food.
“You may have one thought: “I won’t do that,” but then, actually, you are doing it. My heart did not want to do it, but I found my hands were following their directions.”
At the time, she could not understand how that could happen, but after her release, she heard that the police had admitted they were using drugs on Falun Gong practitioners to get them to confess.
“They have a quota to fill,” she said.
Yue said it was less than a month before she renounced her confession to the authorities, again saying Falun Gong was wonderful and she would continue her practice.
In the end, she said the officers in charge of her gave up. She also noted that they were worried about her condition, concerned that they might be blamed for her back. Out of all the prisoners, she was the only one who was allowed to take a break during the day if her back became too painful.
“They know they have committed a crime,” she said.
In Australia, Yue attends rallies to raise awareness of the terrible brutalities Chinese authorities are inflicting on practitioners of Falun Gong. One of the activities she is particularly attentive to is the Quit the CCP movement, which facilitates and records the resignations of Chinese mainlanders from the Chinese Communist Party.
After the persecution began, I realized that they were full of lies and resigned, she said.
“I could not stay in such an organization; it was so hopeless.”
Top image credit: (Sophie Deller/The Epoch Times)