Reporter: Can you tell us about your life in exile?
Li Weixun: Later, after overcoming many difficulties, several practitioners and I rented a house. We got up at 4:00 a.m. each morning to do the exercises and studied the Fa at 6 a.m. After 10 a.m. we left home to distribute truth clarification materials. We made the materials in the evening and we didn't go to sleep until past midnight. When we parted ways in the morning we didn't know if we would see each other again in the evening, because arrest by police could happen any time. To be honest, we were walking a tightrope on a daily basis!
Another female practitioner who could not return home and lived with me had both legs paralyzed from torture. She could not bend her legs; her muscles had atrophied and the skin clung to the bones. She could sit up only by supporting her body with both hands behind her. She has a four-year-old child. When perpetrators from the 610 Office went to arrest her, they shoved her mother-in-law, in her 70s, to the ground and left. Later this practitioner escaped and we took her with us everywhere we went. We moved around frequently. I remember once moving five times in one month because the police were looking for us all the time.
Many Falun Gong practitioners in China are forced into exile. If you refuse to write a guarantee statement as the guards demand, they would send you for brainwashing. If you refused to be "reformed," they would send you to a labor camp where you would stay for years, forced to endure torture daily. Some labor camps refuse to release the practitioners even after their sentences had ended. Sometimes they sentence practitioners to several years in prison. The Chinese Communist Party follows no laws in its treatment of Falun Gong, because they simply want to annihilate Falun Gong, isolating practitioners from their families and society. No one is permitted to hire Falun Gong practitioners. When renting a house they can't even reveal their identity because the owner would then not lease it to them.
When I recall this, I sigh in admiration for my fellow practitioners persisting to clarify the truth to their compatriots, even though they could not return home, could not meet with their families and could not make a living. They did all this, despite all the dangers posed before them. I believe people in the future will thank them, and history will forever remember them.
Reporter: Falun Gong practitioners usually can't obtain passports. How did you leave China?
Li Weixun: It's because my brother risked his life to help me. My brother is three years older than me and he has always taken care of me. Before 1999 he saw the great changes that came over me after I studied the Fa and did the exercises, and he also wanted to learn Falun Gong. After reading Zhuan Falun he said, "I'm too wicked! I can't do this."
After the persecution began, my brother was overwhelmed by the earth-blanketing propaganda on TV and in the newspapers. When I was sent home after being arrested in Beijing for appealing, my brother stared at me in disbelief and asked, "Do you guys have mental problems?" I was stunned. "Why are you saying that? Don't you know me?" From then on he often asked me questions to find out whether or not I really had mental problems like the propaganda programs claimed on TV. He saw the great changes in me after I started practicing Falun Gong. He also read Zhuan Falun and knew Dafa is great, yet he was deceived to this extent by CCP lies. How deeply the omnipresent propaganda has poisoned the minds of the Chinese people!
After I was arrested for the fourth time on January 10, 2002, my brother saw that I was paralyzed and at the brink of death. He cried.
In order to help me, my brother learned detailed facts about Dafa and tried to get a passport for me. At first I didn't want to leave China, because the people there, more than anywhere else, needed to hear the truth about Falun Gong. Later one fellow practitioner said to me, "If you can get out, why don't you expose the darkness and let the whole world know about this evil and villainous persecution? Maybe that is your responsibility." So I agreed to let my brother to go through the procedures for me to go abroad. With his help I went to Thailand in August 2002.
After I left China, my brother continued to take risks and helped other Falun Gong practitioners to obtain visas.
One day in Thailand I suddenly saw in my mind's eye my brother was savagely beaten and was leaning against a wall with a crippled leg. Soon I learned that the police found out my brother was rescuing Falun Gong practitioners. By then he had already obtained passports for five Falun Gong practitioners, but he was exposed. The police brutally beat him until his leg was severely injured and half of his body was numb.
At first, the police tried to charge him with "subverting the government." After my family went through connections, they convicted him of "disrupting the administration of law" and illegally sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Nine members of my family were arrested or escaped.
My sister was arrested and sent to the Longshan Forced Labor Camp to be held for three years.
I was sentenced to 16 years in prison and was living in exile.
My brother was sentenced to eight years in prison and his wife escaped from China.
The police also arrested my older sister and my sister-in-law's two sisters and their husbands.
My mother told me, "I don't know how I spent the Chinese New Year, because I was completely shattered."
My mother also told me on the phone that my brother's hair and mustache have turned white overnight while he was held in prison. He was beaten until he lost the feeling in his hands and feet. I reminded my mother on the phone to tell my brother to often say, "Falun Dafa is great," and "Truthfulness Compassion Tolerance." The next Chinese New Year my mother called me and said my brother's hair had turned black again. I believe Teacher was taking care of him.
Reporter: Now that you finally obtained freedom and safety in the USA, how do you feel?
Li Weixun: I am lucky because I can practice my belief in this free country. For this I thank the US government, Congress and NGOs that helped to rescue me. I thank them for accepting me and other Falun Gong practitioners prior to me. But at the same time, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are still being cruelly tortured in China. There are also many practitioners like me who escaped to countries bordering China and are waiting to be accepted by a third country. Their life is very difficult.
I entered the world's stage after I came to the US, although I had no such intentions. In fact, I am an ordinary Chinese woman and an ordinary Falun Gong practitioner. What I have witnessed and experienced is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the persecution imposed on Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have suffered worse abuse than I, and my family is not the only one to be broken up by the persecution. During this unprecedented catastrophe, some practitioners were disabled; some suffered a nervous breakdown, and some even lost their lives. The pressure and persecution their families are forced to endure also exceeds the scope of one's imagination.
Since history has chosen me to stand on this stage, I feel that I have the responsibility to expose the persecution of Falun Gong and tell of people's sacrifices and support for Dafa during the persecution.
Recently I went to a friend's home in the USA and her daughter asked me to read a story. I read a book about Sakyamuni. After he achieved Righteous Fruition he returned to the secular world to save his family, to repay the help of his friends, including a shepherdess.
As I read this story I remembered my brother who is being incarcerated for rescuing me and other Falun Gong practitioners; I remembered my fellow practitioners and couldn't help but cry. Although I am living in the USA "where the sun shines brightly," my heart is always in China. I worry about my family, my fellow practitioners living in exile, my fellow practitioners being persecuted in prisons and labor camps, my fellow practitioners who are risking their lives to clarify the truth from door to door, my compatriots who have not yet learned the truth, because they are still travailing in the darkness before dawn.
Reporter: Looking back, what do you think will happen in the future in terms of this persecution?
Li Weixun: When I look back at the path I walked, I know I experienced firsthand the wonders of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance." I validated the mighty power of Falun Dafa, deeply rooted in the Universe and first proclaimed in China, and I witnessed the power of truth, which changed people's hearts.
What my brother did after he learned the truth far exceeds his love for his sister, because he also helped other Falun Gong practitioners who are complete strangers. My brother is upholding conscience and kindness. I see the power of truth manifesting through my brother, my family and friends, and I see hope for China.
I'm convinced that after Falun Gong practitioners clarify the truth on a deeper level, more and more Chinese people like my brother will step forward and resist this persecution.
On the other hand, by rescuing me, the US government and the United Nations Refugee Agency have set up a good model for the world. In the past, most governments avoided directly addressing the Falun Gong issue and usually conducted secret so-called human rights dialogue with the Chinese government; these "dialogues" are manipulated by the CCP and therefore they obviously could not stop the persecution.
My rescue shows the international community has changed from verbal confrontation to taking solid steps to support Falun Gong practitioners. I believe this example will motivate more countries to oppose the persecution.
As the truth spreads ever more widely, more and more people inside and outside China will oppose the persecution. The persecution will be hard to sustain, and the dawn is near.