(Clearwisdom.net) Mankind may have differentiated itself in many different ways from other sentient beings, but the characteristic that differentiates mankind from other creatures on earth more than anything else is that mankind holds spiritual beliefs. Perhaps this ability to accept and live by the principles of a spiritual belief forms the very foundation by which we define being human. The term "spiritual belief" is ancient. In both eastern and western civilizations, many touching stories related to spiritual beliefs have been told and retold since ancient times. In today's China, a farmer named Zhao Dehua has manifested the meaning of spiritual belief with his own life.
Mr. Zhao Dehua and his two daughters
I. Zhao Dehua Finds His Spiritual Belief
Mr. Zhao Dehua was born in 1965 into a peasant family in Xinfa Village, Xinxing Township, Shuangcheng City, Heilongjiang Province, China. Zhao's parents were honest farmers who had lived in poverty for a long time. As the eldest of four children, Zhao began to work at the young age of seven. Like most children in China's rural areas, Zhao became a farmer after he finished his middle school education. Growing up in poverty forced him to face the harsh reality at a tender age and matured him quickly. Zhao was known as a quick-tempered and stubborn man who relied solely on his physical strength for his living.
In 1987, Zhao married Ms. Liu Fengjie from a neighboring village. Ms. Liu was one year older than Zhao. She was a very pretty woman, but she, too, had a short temper. During the more challenging times, there was rarely a moment of peace because everyone was stressed and quick to start an argument. Moreover, Liu and her mother-in-law never saw eye to eye.
January 17, 1999 held great significance for Zhao Dehua. That day, his old lifestyle came to an abrupt halt. At that time, a free-of-charge cultivation practice was becoming increasingly popular throughout China. It was Falun Gong. When Liu witnessed the great changes in people, such as improvement in temperament, and quitting smoking and drinking after they began to practice Falun Gong, she encouraged Zhao to learn. "You smoke a pack of cigarettes a day," she said. "You keep saying you are going to quit, but you have never been able to quit. Why don't you learn Falun Gong and see what it can do for you?" On January 17, 1999, Zhao started on his Falun Gong cultivation path. Once he understood how precious Falun Gong was, he decided that he had found his spiritual belief. From then on, his old lifestyle disappeared.
Falun Gong is not just physical exercise. Besides practicing Falun Gong's five sets of exercise, Falun Gong practitioners also cultivate their moral character by following its principles --- Truth, Compassion and Forbearance. It is an ancient Chinese cultivation practice that was first introduced to the public in China after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had banned China's 5,000 years of tradition in Buddhist and Taoist cultivation practices for four decades. Falun Gong founder Mr. Li Hongzhi's nine-day Fa lectures on videotapes made a strong impact on Mr. Zhao. He felt as if he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. "What a wonderful Fa lecture! This is not an ordinary qigong. I am definitely going to learn Falun Gong!" The first change people noticed was that Mr. Zhao quit smoking. It took him only three days, after being addicted to smoking for many years. On top of it, he enjoyed reading Falun Gong's books, mellowed out and became polite. "Falun Gong teaches people to follow 'Truth, Compassion and Forbearance,'" he said. "I now know how to be a better person." He knew he had found his spiritual belief. The day he started practicing Falun Gong became the day of his rebirth. Soon after Mr. Zhao started practicing Falun Gong, his mother and his wife also started practicing. His family became peaceful and affectionate towards each other. They no longer fought each other at all times.
Mr. Zhao Dehua's mother, Wang Ying who died as a result of the persecution
II. Mr. Zhao Unfurls a Banner Made from a Curtain at Tiananmen Square
On July 20, 1999, the CCP banned Falun Gong. The Chinese police and even the Chinese military in steel helmets and armed with machine guns began to roam the streets of China and arrested people who continued to practice Falun Gong. Mr. Zhao once walked close to 50 miles to the Heilongjiang Provincial government just to ask about the CCP's policy about Falun Gong. The police took him back to Shuangcheng City after brutally beating and kicking him. Next, the police ransacked his home and confiscated all Falun Gong books. Mr. Zhao, who rarely cried, even during the many years of suffering due to poverty, cried two days and two nights because of the injustice done to Falun Gong. He just couldn't understand it. "Why must the CCP ban Falun Gong? Why? Falun Gong has not taught its practitioners to do bad things. Why does the CCP arrest and beat up practitioners without any provocation? Why? Why?" Because police in rural areas are crueler and more violent, Mr. Zhao thought about going to Beijing and appealing to higher officials in Beijing. At the time, he thought that higher officials of the CCP might listen to reason. He kept thinking about going to Beijing and, each day he remained at home made him feel guilty, terribly distressed and sad.
In 1999, Mr. Zhao couldn't go to Beijing because he could not afford it. In 2000, Mrs. Zhao said to Mr. Zhao, "After we sell the corn harvest in the fall, we will have money to go to Beijing together." Mr. Zhao, after having seeded the corn-fields in the spring of 2000, was anxiously watching for the corn to grow. Finally, ears of corns ripened and were ready for harvest. Mr. Zhao harvested the corn, got the corn ready for sale and found buyers. Mr. Zhao could not wait any longer, although it was only a few days before he would have received payment for his corn. He borrowed 400 yuan from a kindhearted family and left for Beijing. Seven other Falun Gong practitioners from the same village accompanied him. Mr. Zhao's mother also went along. Wang Ying, an elderly farmer who grew up and lived her entire life in a farming village was one of those traveling to Beijing. She was illiterate and could not even write her own name. She had not traveled to Shuangcheng City, a city that is only 30 kilometers from the village. She could not even imagine if she could speak to the village mayor, but now she had the courage to travel more than 1,300 kilometers to Beijing and speak for Falun Gong. It was also the first time for Mrs. Zhao, her two daughters and three other farmers from the same village to make such a long journey away from home.
Beijing holds special importance to the Chinese people. For over 800 years, Beijing was the imperial city of China's Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. It is amazing that these farmers, who belong to the lower echelon of Chinese society, had the courage to travel to the "imperial city." Except for the power of their belief in Falun Gong, what could possibly give these humble farmers the strength and courage to enter the "imperial city?"
To hold expenses as low as possible, they decided to take the slow train to Beijing. To save more money, they bought tickets for cars with wooden seats. They did not purchase any food for the two days and one night on the train. They had brought with them a box of cookies, but everyone insisted on letting others have the cookies. Everyone's mind was heavy with worry. During the trip, Mrs. Zhao kept looking at her husband as if she feared that she might not see him again. She had heard that police had unlawfully arrested many Falun Gong practitioners. Mr. Zhao had told her before they took off, "I might be killed in Beijing. You must prepare yourself for the worst!" After they got off the train, they each bought a bowl of noodles, but Mrs. Zhao did not touch the noodles.
At 9:00 PM of December 31, 2000, three hours after they had arrived in Beijing, they reached Tiananmen Square. They felt as if the righteous gods were watching them from heaven. Mr. Zhao produced a red banner and held it with Mrs. Zhao. He had taken the curtain from his window at home to make this banner. He painted seven Chinese characters with gold paint: "Falun Dafa is the righteous Way." Mr. Zhao had thought to scream out these words for many months. Together Mr. and Mrs. Zhao shouted out loud, "Falun Dafa is good! Falun Dafa is good!" Almost immediately a police van appeared. A group of cruel policemen jumped these kind, innocent farmers and threw them into the police van, pushing, beating and kicking them.
The police shouted at them as they pushed these farmers into the basement of an empty house. In a small basement of 70 square meters, the police detained 80 to 90 people from different parts of China. One heard accents of the northern and southern provinces. Mr. Zhao asked people why they were here and found that everyone was a Falun Gong practitioner. Mr. Zhao found a coordinator among the illegally detained Falun Gong practitioners. He gave him a letter he had written, an appeal for Falun Gong. He asked him to hand this letter to the Chinese authorities. On the following day, the police took Mr. Zhao to another place in a car. It was far away from the basement. "I don't know where they took me," Mr. Zhao recalled. "It took us over three hours to get there by car." The place was also full of Falun Gong practitioners. The police asked everyone for his/her name and fingerprint. Mr. Zhao refused. He protested, "I did not violate any law. You should not have arrested me. I want to go home." He refused to give the police his name or his fingerprint. Next, five policemen jumped on him and knocked him to the ground. They kicked Mr. Zhao hard on the face, head, waist, stomach, and legs. The police kicked him back and forth and rolled him in the dust. They also tore apart Mr. Zhao's new hat. After savagely beating and kicking him for 30 minutes, Mr. Zhao still refused to give his fingerprint. Therefore, several policemen pressed down Mr. Zhao's head and body while some other policemen pried open his right hand and took his fingerprint by force.
Next, the police hauled Mr. Zhao to a police van that was already filled with Falun Gong practitioners. They were taken to a prison. The police continued to ask for Mr. Zhao's name, but he still refused. The police then handcuffed his hands to a steel fence in the middle of a room, and repeatedly hit his hands with a three-meter wide wooden club. A short policeman with a Beijing accent lit up a cigarette and pressed it down on Mr. Zhao's wrists. Four years later, Mr. Zhao's wrist still shows the marks of the severe cigarette burns that resemble tattooed bracelets. A tall burly policeman went berserk because Mr. Zhao would not succumb to their torture and give his name. He poured a cup of boiling water into Mr. Zhao's pants. Next, with the help from his colleagues, he stripped Mr. Zhao naked and chained him outside. The police left Mr. Zhao naked outdoors in the winter day in northern China in the sub-zero temperature of -4oF for over ten hours. Even in the middle of July, Mr. Zhao could not help trembling when he recalled the bone-chilling feeling. It was Beijing and Beijing's police that have given a farmer from even higher latitude the coldest feeling he had experienced in his life. After he was brought indoors after ten hours of torture in the sub-zero temperature, Mr. Zhao still refused to give his name. A policeman threatened, "If he still does not give his name, rinse his body with cold water and shock his wet skin with stun guns!" A female Falun Gong practitioner with a southern accent could no longer bear to watch Mr. Zhao being subjected to additional torture. She stepped out and said to the police, "If you agree to stop torturing him, I will give you my name." After she gave the police her name, the police sneered and started beating Mr. Zhao.
It is often difficult for people with a kind nature to imagine the cruelty and deceit of such depraved men.
III. Despite the Cruel Tortures in the Forced Brainwashing Facility, Zhao Dehua Said, "I Will Continue to Practice Falun Gong!"
Mr. Zhao Dehua also fell prey to the police's deceit.
A slick policeman pleaded with Mr. Zhao, "If you will not give us your name, we will have problems with our boss." Mr. Zhao refused to give in to the police's terror and torture, but because he follows Falun Gong's principles of Truth, Compassion and Forbearance, he turned soft when he heard the policeman's plea. Thus he gave the police his name and address. Two days later, police from Shuangcheng City's 610 Office and Shuangcheng City's police station came to take him back to Shuangcheng City and then locked him up in Shuangcheng City's Second Detention Center. Mr. Zhao Dehua and his family ended up spending their 2001 Chinese New Year separately in the male and female sections in Shuangcheng City's Detention Center.
It was not until two and a half months later that Mr. Zhao saw his mother, wife and other adult fellow practitioners, who had traveled with him, at a forced brainwashing facility in Xinxing Township. This forced brainwashing center was a new facility established since July 20, 1999 for the purposes of forcing Falun Gong practitioners to renounce Falun Gong and of making profits by extorting money from Falun Gong practitioners. The 610 Office throughout China is responsible for building and supervising forced brainwashing centers. The 610 Office has built forced brainwashing centers throughout China. After a long separation, Mr. and Mrs. Zhao had a brief conversation. Mrs. Zhao asked, "Do you think you can persevere?" Mr. Zhao answered, "Don't worry."
Demonic tribulations immediately followed. The 610 Office staff tried to force them to read newspapers and watch videos that viciously slandered Falun Gong. Mr. Zhao told them, "We refuse to read or watch this stuff. They contain nothing but lies." Mr. Zhang Yunlong and Mr. Bai Chunwu from the 610 Office, as well as Mr. Wang Chuizhou, Mayor of Xinxing Township, immediately grabbed Mr. Zhao. They pressed his hands on top of a convector and hit the back of his hands with a leather belt several hundred times.
There is a Chinese saying, "One's ten fingers are connected to one's heart." It means a person's fingers are most sensitive to pain. At the end of the thrashing, Mr. Zhao's hands turned purple and became so swollen that they resembled a giant bun. Nevertheless, Mr. Zhao still refused to read or watch materials slandering Falun Gong. They cut open chilly peppers and rubbed the inside hard against Mr. Zhao's eyes. The intensive burning from the chilly seeds and juices caused him severe pain and a flood of tears. A policeman named Bai Yuqiao was not satisfied after he repeatedly beat Mr. Zhao with a club, so he lit a candle, tore up Mr. Zhao's shirt, and burned him with the candle. While hearing the sizzling noise from the burning, Bai Yuqiao continued to burn his flesh. That was not enough to satisfy Bai's sadistic pleasure. Bai scratched off the burned skin with his nails and then rubbed the minced chilly peppers against the raw parts.
During the night, the 610 Office staff tortured one Falun Gong practitioner after another. While beating each Falun Gong practitioner, they repeatedly shouted, "Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?" Those who answered yes would be subjected to more severe beating. They purposely kept Mr. Zhao as the last Falun Gong practitioner in their torture marathon. Mr. Zhao clenched his teeth and tried not to collapse in despair when he heard fellow practitioners shrieking in agony and when he heard some of them giving in to the torture and bursting into tears in shame. After they had finished up with everyone else, the Head of the 610 Office, Zhang Yunlong, brought Bai Chunwu, Bai Yuqiao, Yu Zhenbo, Guo Weidong and Wang Chuizhou to the room where they detained Mr. Zhao. They stripped him naked again and threw him onto the cold concrete floor with his wrists in handcuffs. Zhang Yunlong pointed a finger at Mr. Zhao and said, "In your condition, you will not last even five minutes! Go!" The six men each took different weapons. Some started flogging Mr. Zhao with a wide leather belt, and some started beating him with a hard plastic tube filled with sand. Together they must have flogged and beat him 300 times in one minute. With each minute that went by, they added 300 purple and bloody marks on Mr. Zhao's body. During the orgy of sadistic torture, these animals kept shouting, "Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?" "I do!" "Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?" "I do!!" After twenty minutes, Mr. Zhao's body was literally covered with severe wounds. The six persecutors were drenched with sweat and had to stop to catch their breath and smoke cigarettes. Then one of them said, "Pour cool water over him." After one of them poured a large bucket of water over him, they started a second round of torture. Zhang Yunlong said, "No need to ask a stubborn man like him any more. Just keep beating and flogging him!" After torturing him for a while, they asked again, "Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?" "I do!" The new round of torture added new injuries to Mr. Zhao's severely injured body. After noticing Mr. Zhao was on the brink of death, Zhang Yunlong finally said, "Looks like he is not breathing. Get him up and wake him."
Several days later they came up with a malicious kind of mental torture. These policemen tried to make Mr. Zhao step on Teacher's portrait. They handcuffed his hands to the top of a bunk bed with his feet barely touching the ground. Next, they tried to insert Falun Gong's books between the bottom of his feet and the floor. As long as Mr. Zhao's feet touched the floor, he would have no choice but to step on these books. Mr. Zhao saw through their scheme, so he tried with all his might to plant his feet on the floor so that the police could not insert any book under his feet. When they saw that their dirty scheme failed, Zhang Yunlong came up with a new physical torture. He had the policemen tie up Mr. Zhao's wrists with thin nylon strings. He told Mr. Zhao, "Normally it will take only 30 minutes before you lose the feeling in your hands." They did not untie him until 40 minutes later, but Mr. Zhao could still use his hands. Their vicious torture failed again. They kept coming up with new tortures, but they were never able to make Mr. Zhao renounce Falun Gong in writing or verbally. Anytime they asked him, "Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?" they got the same answer: "I do!"
IV. In the Detention Center
After Mr. Zhao survived the repeated tortures at the forced brainwashing center, he was transferred to Shuangcheng City Second Detention Center. Mr. Zhao was unlawfully imprisoned in this detention center twice for a total of eight months. The first time he was imprisoned was from January 5, 2001 to mid-May of 2001, and the second time, was from March 1, 2002 to July 10, 2002. During the unlawful imprisonment, he witnessed the dark reality of the Chinese legal system. The staff members and the prison inmates subjected him to torture and persecution at will. They would torture Mr. Zhao because he refused to curse Falun Gong, refused to smoke, and practiced Falun Gong's exercises. They were in a foul mood, and willing to torture him for pleasure. In fact, they did not need any reason or excuse to subject him to their violence and torture. Sometimes they even abused Mr. Zhao's kindness to make him give in to their demand. For example, they would threaten to beat up some other inmates if he should refuse to comply with their demands.
In Shuangcheng City's Second Detention Center, many practitioners died. Mr. Zhou Zhichang (former Head of Armed Force in Hanjiadian Town) died from forced-feeding with saturated salt water, as it resulted in dehydration. Mr. Wu Baowang from Qingling Township, Mr. Zhao's cellmate, died from the forced-feeding of feces. Disciplinary staff members, including Li Huaixin, Huang Yanchun, a person surnamed Du, as well as prison inmates including Mr. Zhao Dequan and a man surnamed Guan, participated in the persecution against Mr. Zhao. Because Mr. Zhao refused to curse Teacher, Zhao Dequan hit Mr. Zhao on the back of his right ear, which resulted in a hard bump, the size of a bun, which later festered and bled. Recalling the dreadful eight months in illegal detention, Mr. Zhao quoted a Chinese saying, "Each day felt as long as a year." Despite the inhuman and brutal environment, Mr. Zhao persisted in practicing Falun Gong's exercises and reciting Teacher's articles. During the illegal detention, a prison inmate started practicing Falun Gong.
On March 1, 2002, Mr. Zhao went to the bungalow community to clarify the truth about Falun Gong. Within less than 30 minutes after he returned home, four policemen from the local police station came to arrest him. They had received a tip from the Mayor of Xinfa Village, Mr. Han Xinghou, that he had tried to clarify the truth about Falun Gong to other people. They pushed and beat Mr. Zhao, but he refused to get in the police car. His family also helped him to resist this illegal arrest. In the end the police knocked him down to the ground and kept hitting him with bricks before they handcuffed him and took him away. The head of the police station, Mr. Kong Qingman, searched his body and stole 300 yuan Mr. Zhao carried with him, before he transferred Mr. Zhao to Shuangcheng City Second Detention Center. This was how Mr. Zhao was thrown into the detention center for the second time. Mr. Zhao demanded that Kong return the 300 yuan he had stolen from him, but Kong came up with a lie, "A policeman's hand was scratched. You must compensate him for the injury. I will leave you 50 yuan to pay for your children's tuition." Two months later, the police asked Mr. Zhao to sign a piece of paper that said he had been sentenced to two years in Wanjia Forced Labor Camp. Mr. Zhao refused to sign, so did other Falun Gong practitioners. The police said, "Even if you refuse to sign, we will sent you to Wanjia Forced Labor Camp anyway."
They were required to pass a physical examination first when they were transferred to Wanjia Forced Labor Camp. Because Mr. Zhao contracted scabies during the illegal detention, Wanjia Forced Labor Camp refused to accept him.
After returning to the police station from Wanjia Forced Labor Camp, Mr. Zhao suffered from excruciating pain. The pain was so intense that he could not sit down. On July 10, 2002, Mr. Zhao finally was released.
V. China's Persecution of Falun Gong Destroys Mr. Zhao's Family
Mr. Zhao Dehua used to have 13,350 square yards of rice paddy. In 2001, the Mayor of Xinfa Village confiscated more than half of his farm land and left him only 5,280 square yards of land. The Mayor leased out the confiscated land for 4,000 yuan and used it to pay the fines that the 610 Office demanded because Mr. Zhao went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. After losing more than half of their farm land, Mr. Zhao and his family were in a dire situation.
Mrs. Zhao (also known as Liu Fengjie) died at the age of 38. In the end of 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Zhao took their two young daughters to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong and clarify the truth about Falun Gong. After they were unlawfully arrested in Beijing, Mr. Zhang Yunlong, a Shuangcheng City policeman in charge of the local 610 Office, and Mr. Han Xinghou from Xinfa Village took them back. They sent Mr. and Mrs. Zhao's two daughters to a relative's home, and then unlawfully imprisoned Mrs. Zhao in the Shuangcheng City Second Detention Center. After one month of illegal detention, the local police sent Mrs. Zhao to a forced brainwashing center for 50 days, which was run by the local police. The police from Shuangcheng City's 610 Office tortured Mrs. Zhao during the illegal detention. Mr. Zhang Yunlong and seven others repeatedly beat Mrs. Zhao. They also forced her to step on Teacher's portrait and to curse Teacher, but Mrs. Zhao refused to give in to their demand.
Eventually Mrs. Zhao gave in to their terror and wrote a guarantee against her will not to practice Falun Gong again. But it was not until they collected 4,000 yuan that they released her. Mrs. Zhao may have survived the appalling torture, but afterwards she had trouble studying Falun Gong's books, practicing the exercises or even being her usual self because she had been severely traumatized by the physical and mental torture.
On August 12, 2001, Mrs. Zhao went out to sell vegetables as usual, so they would have the money to pay for her daughters' tuition. On her way to the market, she was hit by a car and died of severe injuries. When she passed away, her daughters, aged ten and three, were devastated. Mr. Zhao Dehua was heartbroken when he watched his children crying for their mother, who could no longer be there for them.
Mr. Zhao's mother, Wang Ying, was 60 years old when she passed away. Prior to her cultivation practice of Falun Gong, she suffered from tracheitis and late-term gastroptosis, which the doctors told her was beyond medical treatment. After she started practicing Falun Gong, her illnesses disappeared and she became perfectly healthy. In the end of 2000, she went to Beijing with her son, daughter-in-law and her two granddaughters to clarify the truth about Falun Gong, but the Beijing police illegally arrested and persecuted the entire family. Two days later, Shuangcheng City police took them back to Shuangcheng City and then unlawfully imprisoned her in Shuangcheng City Second Detention Center where she was persecuted severely. Afterwards, she was transferred to a forced brainwashing center where she was again subjected to torture and was not released until the perpetrators collected a ransom in the amount of 4,000 yuan. During the illegal detention, Wang Ying's health was severely damaged. She died on January 5, 2005.
The CCP's persecution against Falun Gong destroyed Mr. Zhao Dehua's family.
Mr. Zhao turned 40 years old this year. For the Chinese people, the age of 40 is known as the age of confidence or the age without doubt. It means that when a man reaches 40, he probably has obtained a clearer understanding of life. What does Mr. Zhao think of his life at the age of 40 after being deprived of nearly everything and everyone he had and is now marked with terrible physical and mental wounds?
"Do you still practice Falun Gong, Mr. Zhao?"
"Do you hate those people who beat you up and the Mayor of Xinfa Village?"
"I don't hate them. I pity them for all the terrible crimes they have committed because they don't know the truth about Falun Gong. It is such a pity."
"Are you happy?"
After being silent for a long time, Mr. Zhao said, "All of China suffers from the massive persecution against Falun Gong. I have lost my mother and my wife and my daughters have lost their mother and their grandmother. My daughters and I lost our two closest family members. Our family can never be complete again. Under the circumstances, it is impossible for me to be happy. However, my family is only one of millions of families torn apart by Jiang Zemin and the CCP's atrocities."
"But I do feel immensely fortunate to have found the truth of the universe --- Truth, Compassion and Forbearance," Mr. Zhao added. "I have found what I have been looking for all my life. I have found my true belief. That makes me very happy."