Saturday July 7th, 2001

Zhang Cuiying is one of approximately 50,000 Falun Gong practitioners who have been physically assaulted in Chinese prisons. "They use the worst possible methods in history to torture people. It is just as cruel as 2000 years ago when the Emperor killed people by tying them to four different horses and then made them run towards different directions."

Sent to Prison for Her Meditation

Zhang Cuiying is one of the few who managed to make it out of Chinese prison. She shared a cell with murderers and was severely assaulted but she is alive and can tell her story.

Forty year old Zhang Cuiying has come to Gothenburg to tell about how Falun Gong practitioners are treated in China.

"I am a artist and live in Australia. My husband and I read that there were cost-free Falun Gong practice sites and I thought I should give it a try. I had severe rheumatic pain but after several weeks of practice it started to diminish. The improvement was so surprising that I started to read books about the method and continued to practice."

Zhang is a tranquil and timid person, but when she heard about the persecution in China, she went to the consulate in Sydney to deliver a letter with an appeal asking that they should cease the harassment. They did not accept the letter despite that she stood there every day for five months, regardless of the weather.

In 1999, she traveled to Peking to tell about her experiences and hand deliver the letter.

Right before she made it to Tiananmen Square, the police lead her and other Falun Fong practitioners into a large bus where they were bloodily beaten with rolled-up newspapers.

After interrogation and further physical assault Zhang was forced to leave China. Yet, she returned, and one morning at 6 o'clock when she was practicing her five exercises to tranquil music, the police struck again. Seven Falun Gong practitioners were beaten and arrested.

Zhang was placed in a cell together with murderers and drug dealers who were waiting to be executed. The police tried with different methods to get her to give up her Australian citizenship. When they did not succeed they put her on a plane to Sydney.

"All of my family lives in China. I must go back to visit them and when I heard about a large political conference in Beijing, I wanted to deliver my letter to them asking to stop the persecution. By then it had become even worse in the country."

Zhang was apprehended right after she landed at the airport in Beijing on March 5th, 2000 and was sent to prison in China. The guards said that she was going to suffer so much that she would wish she were dead.

She was put into foot shackles and chains and placed among the male criminals. They got drinking water and food; she was made to take water out of the toilet and beg for crumbs from fellow prisoners.

"The air was very bad and it was hot; 40 C (104 F). I slept on the floor and my skin had pus-filled sores. During the day we were forced to work ten hours without pay by stringing necklaces, embroidering shirts, and decorating small Christmas lamps. These products were exported out of the country. If visitors came, we had to hide everything."

The other prisoners were encouraged to physically abuse Zhang. They were watched continuously by video cameras and the person who beat her the most was rewarded.

Zhang was not permitted to have any contact with the outside world. It was a released prisoner who wrote letters to her husband and the Australian consulate in Peking telling of where she was.

After seven months they managed to get her released.

"Many practitioners who are Chinese citizens have experienced worse things than me. Women who do not sign a paper stating that they guarantee to quit Falun Gong are stripped naked and thrown into male cells to be raped. A while ago, we received information about a mother and her eight month old baby who were tortured to death," says Zhang.

It is dangerous to tell the outside world about what is going on in China; the penalty is comparable to that of revealing state secrets.

Despite this, there are witnesses who tell about how people have been burned alive in a square. Other practitioners were dragged behind motorcycles until they were dead.

"They use the worst possible methods in history to torture people. It is just as cruel as 2000 years ago when the Emperor killed people by tying them to four different horses and then made them run towards different directions."

"Innocent women and children are treated worse than dangerous criminals are. Murderers and drug dealers are given trials and punishment, but they are not tortured to death," says Zhang Cuiying.