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Practitioner from Canada He Lizhi: The Persecution I Suffered in Prison in China

August 09, 2004 |   By He Lizhi, a Dafa practitioner from Canada

(Clearwisdom.net) My name is He Lizhi. After suffering prison life for three and a half years in China, thanks to the help of the international community, I came to Canada this May. It was then I learned that my name had appeared in the Canadian media more than two years ago. Amnesty International classified me and several other practitioners as "prisoners of conscience." For years, Canadian practitioners, along with many kind Canadians, from ordinary people to congressmen, have continued to call on the Chinese government to unconditionally release all Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China. They made arduous efforts to rescue us. After my release, I was granted priority by the Canadian Immigration Ministry. Now I have reunited with my wife after three years and ten months separation. I was greatly moved by these kind people's actions for justice, and hereby cordially express my gratitude.

My wife and I are both Falun Gong practitioners. After we began practicing Falun Gong in 1995, we gained healthy bodies, relaxed and happy attitudes, and mild and tolerant social behavior. We experienced inward brightness and happiness by cultivating ourselves through following the universal principles of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." I'm happy to see that Falun Gong is welcomed and praised in Canada, and granted awards by the Canadian government. More and more people are learning Falun Gong, and becoming my fellow practitioners.

But anyone who practices Falun Gong in China may be abducted to a brainwashing class, detention center, forced labor camp, mental hospital, or prison, to be tortured both mentally and physically--or even murdered. Countless Falun Gong practitioners have been forced to become destitute and homeless, losing contact with relatives and friends, or even losing their lives. Many more practitioners were forced to give up their studies, and lose their jobs or means of livelihood.

During the five years of intense persecution against Falun Gong by Jiang's regime, mankind's basic morality and conscience have been dealt a devastating blow. Chinese people have been shrouded in an atmosphere of terror.

I used to be a senior engineer. When I worked in the Beijing Iron & Steel Institute, I participated in many state level and ministry level projects' designs, and received many awards and much recognition for my performance from my work unit and the metallurgy ministry. The projects I undertook were also highly praised for their success. I was selected by the Registered Engineer Administration Committee in Construction Ministry to work at the professional qualification registration center. At the center, I prepared examination questions. I was commended and respected by my colleagues since I was good at cooperation, eager to help others, and demonstrated a strong work ethic and responsibility. Although I devoted my knowledge and ability for the country conscientiously, I suffered severe persecution just because I believed in the principle of truthfulness-compassion-forbearance and persisted in the cultivation of Falun Gong.

Before the People's Delegate Conference on March 4, 2000, my wife went to Tiananmen Square to appeal for Falun Gong, but she did not return. I went to the Square to look for her in the afternoon. When I entered the Square, a plainclothes policeman came to ask whether I practiced Falun Gong or not. I answered "yes." Then a police car rushed over, and a police officer jumped from the car to arrest me, while yelling ferociously: "Falun Gong practitioners are not human beings." I was abducted and illegally detained in Xuanwu District Detention Center for two weeks. After I was released, due to pressure from the Party's committee in Construction Ministry, I was kept under house arrest for one week by my work unit and forced to watch videos slandering Dafa. On July 21 2000, officials from the State Security Bureau broke into my office, abducted me, and ransacked my home and office because I had mailed some Falun Gong truth clarification materials to my friends and colleagues. Several years later I learned that I had been illegally tracked and videoed by spies from the State Security Bureau when I went to the post office to mail the letters. Even after I was already arrested by the State Security Bureau, other policemen from two police departments rushed to my office to gain the recognition for arresting me. What an absurd, ugly and evil act! Several months later I was sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment by Haidian District Court, and completely lost my freedom.

Actually I could have avoided this calamity. My wife's and my immigration application to Canada had been approved on July 8, 2000. We could have left China's persecution and obtained freedom in Canada. But precisely because in China, Falun Dafa, which brings goodness to both the country and it's people, is viciously slandered and framed, it's innocent cultivators are persecuted, and Jiang's propaganda is confounding right and wrong, so many people are deceived and poisoned by the lies, and whether I am a Dafa cultivator or an ordinary person with conscience, I have the obligation to clarify the truth about Dafa to the world, to expose the persecutors' lies, and to restore Falun Dafa's reputation. In fact, communicating by letter is a legal right granted by the Chinese Constitution. Clarifying the truth about Falun Dafa by letter is a legal, sensible, rational, and considerate act.

Jiang's regime, however, ignores the Chinese Constitution, overrides the law, and manipulates the state to persecute Falun Gong. In order to frame me for a crime, my legal act was called "an attempt to create turmoil, destroy Chinese reform achievements and the hard-earned stable political situation." This twisted logic is frighteningly reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. At the beginning of the persecution, judiciary offices did not allow lawyers to defend Falun Gong practitioners. In response to pressure from the international community, practitioners are now technically allowed to employ a lawyer, but any lawyer who speaks for Falun Gong is likely to lose his or her job. Any statements made in defense of Falun Gong or practitioners are dismissed as having "no legal foundation," and most lawyers assigned by the court are actually directed to assist in convicting the practitioners.

My wife took great pains to find a trustworthy lawyer for me. But in the end he was not able to defend me. Since he had defended on behalf of another practitioner, he did not pass his annual registration for legal practice, and lost his job. My wife found a second lawyer to defend me, but the following incidents caused him to change his mind. After he accepted my case, the police went to his hometown to thoroughly investigate him and his family to see whether they were involved in Falun Gong. After his first talk with my wife, his car disappeared. His car was found the day after he reported the case to the police department, and everything inside the car was there, except for a letter which my wife entrusted him to bring to me. He realized that he had been tracked. He regretted to say that, as he also has a wife and children, he could not defend me, and could only try his best to alleviate the penalty. At 9 a.m. on December 5, 2000, the Haidian Court conducted a so-called public trial. The "public" trial only had seating for eight. At first, even my wife was not allowed to enter. After my lawyer's negotiation and consulting, the judge allowed her to enter on the condition that she was not allowed to speak a word.

Upon entering, she realized that the people sitting on either side of her were assigned to watch her. In the court, the judge interrupted my statement, and much of what I said was omitted from the court record, including when my lawyer pointed out that the state security bureau's procedure was illegal and violated citizen's freedom of mailing letters. The judge responded that what the State Security Bureau did is all a state secret, and has nothing to do with the law. The trial came to an abrupt end so that the same personnel could try another practitioner, Zhu Keming, at 11 a.m. in the same room. The whole process was just an act, since my prison term had already been settled before the trial. The judge told me that I had the right to appeal to the middle level court, but that it was useless to do so. I could not believe that the law could be so unfair and trivial, so I appealed. To my disappointment, the middle court did not even take the trouble of opening a court session. After asking me a couple questions, they decided to reject my appeal and maintain the original sentence.

During the 1,280 days in prison, I suffered persecution by Jiang's followers both physically and mentally. I was detained in Division 7 of the Police Department in Beijing City, together with murderers for two weeks. Later I was detained in Haidian District Detention Center for more than six months with pilferers, robbers, drug dealers, drug addicts, and prostitutes as fellow inmates. The cell was only just over ten square meters, but often held 28 or 29 persons. The air was foul, the bedding was filthy, and the sanitation conditions were extremely poor. It was muggy in the summer and gloomy in the winter. We had to eat and go to the restroom in the same room ┬ĘC it was as if we were living in the restroom. For months we were detained in a dark room without sunshine. The police arranged four inmates to sit beside me. I was forced to sit on the hard floor with both legs bent together in a fixed posture the whole day, and was beaten for the slightest movement. Extended sitting for months caused my skin to fester. Pus and blood often moistened my underwear. I contracted scabies in the odious environment. I itched from head to toe, and could not sleep at night. On the new year of 2001, I had a high fever after inmates poured cold water on me the day before. I felt sharp pain in the left side of my body, and could not breathe normally. Later I felt scorching pain in the chest and could not lie down to sleep. I tried to alleviate the pain by repeatedly changing my posture. I developed edema all over, and my skin festered around the nose and eye socket. At night I suffered sweating and dehydration. Although some kind inmates supported me to the infirmary several times, the doctor only gave me one injection to bring down the fever, then ignored my other symptoms. So I spent my last 45 days in detention with high fever and pain, and could barely breathe. The week before I was taken to prison, the police came to the closed cell door, inserted a sheet of paper from a hole in the door, and forced me to sign and press my fingerprint without reading the content. I found out later that it was a printed questionnaire which had been completed with standard answers: the signer declared that "he/she was well treated in the detention center, had never been abused, and received timely treatment for any illness." What a lie! Such a declaration with signature and fingerprint will deceive many people, and cover up many crimes. From my arrest to my release, how many false documents I have witnessed!

In the detention center, the most retched experience was witnessing the beatings of fellow practitioners. Several practitioners who went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong were sent to the same cell. Upon entering the cell, they were viciously beaten by criminal inmates. The miserable scene pained me deeply. The perpetrators stripped off the practitioners' clothing, poured freezing cold water on them, and poked their ribs ruthlessly with a toothbrush handle. When the practitioners groaned with pain, the rogues would burst out in laughter. They forced practitioners to keep the so-called "aircraft" posture for a long time, namely, standing facing the wall, bending the body so that the back is pressed to the wall tightly, with the two arms lifted upwards in parallel to press the wall, and holding that position motionlessly. Practitioners were beaten for the slightest movement. Since Jiang's regime practiced a "guilt by association" policy to persecute Falun Gong, many practitioners would not reveal their name or addresses after being arrested, in order to protect their work units and community. As a result, they suffered unspeakable tortures. One day, a practitioner who spoke with a Henan dialect was arrested. After failing to obtain his name during interrogation, the police handed him over to the criminals. More than ten criminals crowded around him, covered his head and beat him frantically. The practitioner fell to the ground. It took him a long time to recuperate. He still refused to reveal his name. The perpetrators could not believe it, and dragged him to the edge of the wash basin, kicked him to kneel down, trampled his head into the basin, and turned the faucet on high, instantly covering his head in water. They continued until the practitioner nearly drowned. Witnessing such an atrocity and being unable to stop it, a deep guilt pressed upon my heart. At the sight of such misery, I did not know how long I would be able hold up without suffering a mental collapse. The heart-wrenching cries of female practitioners being force-fed were often heard. All these scenes made people feel that the detention center is a constant hell on earth.

All the cases of torturing Falun Gong practitioners which I witnessed in the detention center, were directed or incited by the police. All cells are installed with monitors, so the violent events occurring within are under the supervision of the police on duty. The policy of the detention center includes no beating. But in fact, the police collude with the most malicious criminals to torture Falun Gong practitioners. Through these ruffians, the police can achieve the purpose of torturing Falun practitioners without directly being involved in the violence. These ruffians vent all their hatred towards society and their anger at being detained on the peaceful and kindhearted Falun Gong practitioners. Through cooperation, the police and the criminal inmates developed special relationships. The ruffians are allowed to wander outside of the cell, to smoke in police offices, and to call their family members, while this is absolutely impossible for others inmates. They are even permitted to employ a lawyer from local judiciary offices, who will work towards reducing their penalty by special channels or improper means. Had the ruffians not talked about this issue in delight in the cell, I could never have learned this secret.

On February 14, 2001, while muddled by high fever, I was escorted to Qianwei Prison in Chadian in Tianjin City. In an attempt to change my belief in Falun Gong, the police forced me to read materials slandering Dafa, with forced military training and corporal punishment by electric baton. They did not allow me to sleep at night. Since I was very weak, the police thought that overloading corporal punishment would make me yield, but it did not. So they became aggravated. I was forced to run, jump and do push-ups in bitter cold winds. My clothes were soaked with sweat, which froze to ice when I was forced to stand outside. Then I was forced to repeat the whole process again. As a result, I began to cough violently until I was coughing up blood. My legs and feet became swollen, until finally I could barely walk. I suffered a urinary disorder, and excreted blood. In this life-threatening situation, I suddenly became worried. If I were tortured to death, nobody would know the truth. Moreover, I would be listed among 1,400 other cases of death as suicide or death by refusing treatment, and used to frame Dafa. I was held by an intention of dragging out an ignoble existence, and, with immense shame and humiliation, made a painful and temporary compromising decision.

Following the police's direction, and on the verge of my death, I expressed against my will that my act of "communicating by letter" violated the law, and that I would no longer be "obsessed" with Falun Gong. After I had compromised, I was sent to the prison hospital on March 1. The doctor diagnosed me with pulmonary tuberculosis and acute nephritis. (Before I was arrested, my health was very good, and my check-up examination at the special hospital assigned by Canadian Immigration Bureau in may 2000, showed no trace of disease.) After intravenous injection and medication for nearly 50 days, I was brought back to prison. As a side effect of the medicine, I felt discomfort in the liver for some time, and often had diarrhea. My vital capacity had decreased considerably, and I could not breathe deeply or even yawn or sneeze. When it was overcast and rainy, I could hardly breathe. I was transferred to Qianjin Prison in November 2001. Despite my poor health, I was forced to do heavy labor. I worked for more than ten hours digging a ditch and grading. After one day's work I was too tired to stand up straight. Due to excessive labor, I could not sleep the whole night. I felt so much pain in my spine that I could not lay on my back. But on the next day, I was forced to do the same work. When SARS was rampant in 2003, the cell was often sprayed with disinfectant like peracetic acid. Since ventilation was poor, the windows were closed while spraying, and inmates were not allowed to leave, no one could open their eyes and everyone suffered sore throats. Due to the lung disease, my torment was suffocating.

In prison, all persecution towards Falun Gong practitioners is aimed at destroying our belief in "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." The Party's committees in judiciary offices set quotas for "conversion." These quotas became the driving force for the police to carry out concrete persecution and meet the "conversion" requirements. Barbaric torture threatens life both mentally and physically, and police compel practitioners to compromise their beliefs and betray their conscience to "plead guilty" in written statements or compose so-called "criticizing" material slandering Falun Gong. All this material has to accord with planned content, length, and depth, and match the practitioner's education and experience, so that it appears to the third party readers to be written sincerely, and achieve the desired "accusatory" effect. The police forced "converted" practitioners to read their materials out loud in public, and were videotaped and recorded. The police use the videos as blackmail to prevent practitioners from converting back, as well as to deceive the world and cover the truth of the persecution.

According to judiciary office's policy, when a practitioner is sent to prison, they are subject to strictly controlled "conversion education" for the first three months. During this period, the practitioners are detained separately. Some of them were forced to wear handcuffs and shackles, stand for long hours or stand on a small bench without sleep, sometimes deprived of sleep for days. Their restroom privileges were highly restricted, and they were forced to watch all TV programs, news, and articles slandering Falun Gong. They were repeatedly forced to view the bloody scenes of suicide and murder simulated to frame Falun Gong. They were insulted by the police and criminals, but not allowed to defend Falun Gong or clarify the truth. Under this continued devastating physical and psychological pressure, once healthy practitioners deteriorated to become absentminded and dull. Then the practitioners would be publicly exposed, and the ill effects of the persecution would be blamed on practicing Falun Gong. This kind of "strictly controlled education" under high pressure has gone on for years, and the police have accumulated much false material and even used the latest psychological research to invent more effective ways of mental torture.

According to the prison policy, practitioners are not allowed to defend Falun Gong, clarify the truth, talk about cultivation, mention the topic of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," greet each other without permission, practice the exercises, cross their legs, or meditate with the eyes closed. Our every word and act was closely monitored by electrical equipment and criminals 24 hours a day. Any "violation" led to segregation, "strictly controlled education," and further persecution.

On September 10, 2004, higher authorities assigned personnel to the prison to inspect the status of "converted" Falun Gong practitioners. In conversation, I said that Falun Dafa is righteous, open and aboveboard. As a result, I was subjected to a frenzied beating with more than ten thousand volt electric batons by three police. Then I was "strictly controlled" for months, deprived of sleep and forced to write self-criticism every day.

For the segregated "conversion" under high pressure, the prison used a large number of CDs and all kinds of material for slandering Dafa to "brainwash " and mentally enslave us long term. Whenever the central TV station broadcast news slandering Falun Dafa, we were forced to watch and write our "reflection after viewing." Every week the police arranged various "education" curriculum. We were forced to learn, report our thoughts, and summarize weekly. Moreover, we were forced to take the "brainwashing" as rescue, acknowledge the "rationality and necessity" of the persecution, accept persecution willingly, be grateful to Jiang's regime, and sing the praises of false prosperity. Under long-term persecution and coercion both mentally and physically, I felt very distressed to write such disgusting material against my will. I often could not fall asleep until midnight. In agony, humiliation, along with the apathy and guilt of diverging from "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance" I subsisted in extreme hardship.

These years of agony passed like a nightmare, but the hideous images and intolerable lies remain vivid. Throughout the evil persecution, I never wavered in my belief in Dafa, never lost faith in "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." But since my righteous thoughts were not ample and my attachments were too many, when the persecution was the most serious and I was on the verge of death, I compromised against my will. Later, to break away from high-pressure brainwashing, I did some contradictory things. As a result, agony and shame filled my days and nights in prison. Now I am able to expose the truth of the evil persecution that I personally experienced. With this, I solemnly state that anything I wrote against my will, which was inconsistent with Dafa, is null and void. All so-called "conversion" material I wrote under pressure is criminal evidence of the Jiang's regime's persecution.

No matter how the persecutors embellish their countless crimes, what absurd and self-deceiving "conversion percentages" they have achieved by evil means, the hypocrites cannot hide the truth forever. Coercion and violence cannot change people's minds or ever alter Dafa disciples' righteous belief in the universal truth. The evil persecution will end up a complete failure.

In China, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are suffering inhuman torture. Jiang's regime has gone so far as to extend its state terrorism to the entire world. I hereby call on all people who love justice and peace to condemn the Jiang group's persecution against mankind's justice and conscience, thereby upholding mankind's morality and dignity together.