An Open Letter from Mr. Xu Dawei's Wife to Chinese Government Agencies (Graphic Photos)
Name: Xu Dawei (徐大为)
Age: 34 (born on October 31, 1975)
Address: Ying'emen Town, Qingyuan County, Fushun City, Liaoning Province
Occupation: Chef employed by a restaurant in Shenyang City
Date of Death: February 16, 2009
Date of Most Recent Arrest: January 2001
Most Recent Place of Detention: Dabei Prison in Shenyang City, Lingyuan City First Prison, Fushun City Second Prison, and Dongling Prison in Shenyang City (沈阳大北监狱, 凌源第一监狱, 抚顺第二监狱 and沈阳东陵监狱)
Persecution Suffered: Electric shocks, brainwashing, illegal sentencing, forced injections/drug administration, beatings, hanging by handcuffs, imprisonment, solitary confinement, torture, force-feedings, extortion, physical restraint, interrogation, denial of restroom use, denied visitation
(Clearwisdom.net) Mr. Xu Dawei, a practitioner from Qingyuan County, Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was tortured at Dongling Prison in Shenyang City to the extent that he suffered internal organ failure, his body was covered in injuries, and he suffered mental collapse and memory loss. In February 2009, 13 days after his release from serving an eight-year term in the prison, Mr. Xu died at the age of 36. In March 2010, 376 villagers in the five villages in Ying'emen Town, Qingyuan County jointly signed an appeal letter on behalf of Mr. Xu. This incident has resulted in an investigation by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has resorted to threats and harassment of the letter's signatories. Attorney Mr. Wang Jinglong, hired by Mr. Xu's family, has faced suppression from the Liaoning Province Justice Department.
A few months before Mr. Xu Dawei's unlawful arrest
Mr. Xu Dawei emaciated after being released from Dongling Prison
The following is an open letter from his wife Ms. Xu Lihua to the Chinese government agencies responsible for Mr. Xu's case.
My name is Chi Lihua, and I am the wife of Xu Dawei. A while back, I mailed out the report on Xu Dawei's death by torture in Dongling Prison in Shenyang City. Also attached was a letter signed by local residents of Qingyuan County. I'm writing to ask for the result of your disposition on this issue.
I recently learned that the government appeared to take this issue seriously, and mobilized a large number of officials. The head of the Justice Department and the police chief in the Qingyuan area, along with officers from the local police station and officials from the local town government, went to the small mountainous village to investigate this issue. I would have felt fortunate that my appeal had resulted in such attention if not for what they did. It was reported that my brother-in-law was forcibly taken away by the police. They came up with quite a few charges and even tried to handcuff him. It was also reported that these people went door to door, investigating and threatening those who had supported my appeal. Even more puzzling was the inquiry made by the police to my brother-in-law about where my residential papers would be kept, how tall I was, and what I looked like. In addition, they asked villagers whether they had seen me returning home.
I'm not sure how these questions relate to the resolution of the issue brought up by the jointly signed letter. What I fail to understand is whether these people represented themselves or if they represented the government. Would government employees handle an investigation this way for citizens? The television boasts that the government is coming up with concrete resolutions for average citizens all the time these days. Is this how these people are trying to resolve the issue? If they do not represent the government, then as a person, they should have shown at least the minimum amount of conscience and sympathy rather than making threats. Don't you think they have damaged the image of the government? What is even more unbelievable is the report that this jointly signed letter caused a stir in the Party Central Committee, which handled it very negatively. I am not sure whether this is so or not, however my sister-in-law was taken away by officers from the the local police department. They asked her for my whereabouts. They claimed that my situation is of great concern at the Liaoning provincial leadership level. I probably should have felt grateful, because not everyone who files an appeal can get the provincial level's attention. Was it true that the government has finally paid attention to people's appeals and is about to reach a decision?
All indications have proved that I was simply too naive. I was amazed to learn that my brother-in-law was taken into police custody. The police interrogated and threatened him. Local villagers were intimidated. My sister-in-law was taken into custody. The police withheld the attorney's license from Mr. Wang Jinglong, who had kindly agreed to work on my case. The authorities forced everyone else in Mr. Wang's law office to write self-criticizing reports. They ordered him to return the 500 yuan deposit that I gave him to cover his travel expenses, void our contract, and no longer work on my case. Is it not absurd that the provincial judicial and police departments have launched such a grand campaign simply to handle me, an empty-handed woman, who has yet to recover from the desperate sorrow of her husband's wrongful death?
Someone once asked me, "How have you gathered so many signatures for appealing your husband's case?" I replied, "It is precious indeed in this materialistic society. However, I would say the number of signatures would be much higher if I could ask all of those who knew Dawei to sign the letter. Why? Because his passion, integrity, and kindness had touched the lives of so many people. His wrongful, torturous death has broken all these people's hearts. A woman who knows us told me that she bought ribs and was going to prepare a well-cooked soup of ribs for Dawei upon his return. She burst into tears when she told me that she never imagined that Dawei would be tortured to this extent. An elderly lady told me, "You don't know that my son and I were so glad that Dawei was finally returning home. We were going to take him to a restaurant. Who would have imagined it was to be like this? You don't know how many times we have shed tears for him." Another elderly lady told me, "I have not even cared that much about my own son. I was going to take Dawei into my home. However, this has become my eternal regret. I didn't even get to see him to pay a final tribute. I was so saddened." Just a few days before Dawei was to return home, a restaurant owner called over the phone. He kindly offered Dawei work at his restaurant. He said, "It has been eight years. Although I did not stay in touch with him, I learned from friends that he was to come home. It took me quite a bit of effort to get your telephone number." There are so many other family, friends, and fellow villagers who were shocked, grieved, and wept upon Dawei's death.
Xu Dawei impressed others wherever he went. People liked him. He was cheerful and amiable. Wherever he worked, he was on good terms with his colleagues and employers. He used to work as a cashier in a privately-owned bath facility. Sometimes, when elderly gentlemen arrived to take a bath, the owner worried about them falling down and hurting themselves, and was reluctant to allow them to use the bathtub. Dawei always said, "I can take care of this elderly person and help him." He helped to rub their backs with great patience. When the elderly men wanted to pay him personally, he always declined and explained that this was what he should do. Sometimes, when he returned to his hometown in the mountains, he volunteered to help others when they were short a few people treating a large group of villagers in an event. He was good at cooking, but he never took cigarettes or liquor in exchange for his work. People were grateful for his generous help.
Dawei loved life. He studied hard and had many interests. He had a good memory. He memorized 72 poems in 24 hours and recited them fluently. He played the erhu, a stringed music instrument. He knew how to compose and was good at singing. Sometimes he would say, "My dear wife, let me sing a song for you." He would then start singing. I still remember the touching lyrics and tunes. Sometimes he would write me a poem, a poem of simple terms, but each word was filled with love for life. He worked on the house. Even when I was doing laundry, he would pick the thick and heavy clothes and washed them himself just in case I could not handle them. He always let me buy my first pick when it came to shopping for clothes. With any delicious food, he always asked me to take the first bite. One Valentine's Day, he bought a bunch of roses and placed it in a vase in my elder sister's family-owned restaurant. The restaurant staff did not hide their envy. I indeed felt content about life. Dawei not only treated me with such care, he treated everyone like this. He tried to be considerate to his parents. When we were getting married, he said that his parents would have to borrow tens of thousands of yuan if we were to have a lavish wedding. Plus, they would have to do the same thing when his younger brother got married. They would end up spending the rest of their lives paying back the debt. He proposed that we not ask for money from either of our families and have a simple wedding. I understood his caring came from the kindness of his nature. After Dawei started practicing Falun Gong, he became even better. He followed the principle of Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance. He always placed others ahead of himself. Dawei was an ordinary man. He did not achieve great things. But anyone who made contact with him enjoyed his company. They felt that he was pleasant, honest, considerate, and reliable. Although we lived only a little over a year together, that was the most precious time in my life. It was also the happiest time in my life.
So short was this period of my life! After the persecution of Falun Gong began on July 20, 1999, right and wrong exchanged places. Dawei was unlawfully sentenced to eight years in prison for upholding his belief in Falun Gong. In the end, he was tortured to death at the age of 36. I learned from others who were released that Dawei had been held in four prisons, including Dabei Prison in Shenyang City, Lingyuan No. 1 Prison, Fushun No. 2 Prison, and Dongling Prison in Shenyang City. He endured various kinds of torture during his years of incarceration, including being handcuffed and shackled, viciously beaten, lifted off the ground by his handcuffed wrists, force-fed, beaten with hard rubber tubes, injected with unknown substances, and electrically shocked.
Dawei was transferred from Fushun No. 2 Prison to Dongling Prison in February 2007. On February 14, 2008 (the eighth day into the Chinese New Year), I and other family members went to visit him. One guard took our daughter to him. He pleasantly asked her to be considerate and follow instructions from me and her grandpa and grandma. Dawei spent a little over a year in Dongling Prison. That was the only time we were allowed to visit him. Every month after that, we went to see him. The prison guards attempted to force us to curse the founder of Falun Gong, or the meeting was not granted. We refused and no matter how we tried persuade them to grant us a meeting, we were not successful. We learned that Dawei was suffering from pleurisy and pleurisy effusion. We were worried about his health, and I applied for him to have medical parole. Guo Baoyuan, head of the ward, along with Huo Xizhong and other guards assured us that Dawei was a kind man, and that they would take care of him, that he was in good health, and that they would treat him if necessary. Whatever we brought in for Dawei was not accepted by the prison guards.
On February 3, 2009, Dawei's eight-year prison term finally reached its end. His family and I arrived at Dongling Prison. I could not believe my eyes. His hair had turned completely white. He had become emaciated. His eyes were dull. He no longer recognized us. I asked the guards, "How did he turn into this? How did he get so emaciated?" No one answered me. After getting home, he squatted down in the corner of the room and didn't move. We told him, "It is fine now. You have come back home." After a long time, he sat on the bed. After careful attendance, he sometimes had a clear thought or two. He said, "In the prison, they injected me with psychiatric drugs.... locked me in a dark room, beat me, punched and kicked me...." We found that he had not eaten any food. He coughed continuously. But he didn't have enough strength to spit out what was in his lungs. There were numerous injuries left from electric shocks all over his body. His hands and feet were swollen. There were scars on his right knee and ankle. The skin on his buttocks was rotten and had turned black. After several days of care, there was no change to his condition. We took him to a hospital. The physicians told us, "There is no hope. His heart has exhausted. There is no blood that can be taken for testing. His skin has lost its suppleness. He has been in this condition for too long. We have long passed being able to give the necessary treatment." Within thirteen days of his release from Dongling Prison, on February 16, 2009, Dawei passed away. I was filled with sadness, yet I didn't know what to do. Fellow villagers and I went to the prison in two cars to get an explanation twice. The prison authorities not only refused to offer any explanation, they spread rumors that Falun Gong followers were "besieging" the prison.
There are many ordinary Falun Gong practitioners like Dawei across China. They have benefited from the practice. For eleven years, countless practitioners have lost their families, and many have even lost their lives. According to incomplete statistics on the Clearwisdom website, over 3383 practitioners have died directly from the persecution. Tens of thousands more remain in prison, labor camps, or are otherwise held in custody against their will.
Some friends and family asked me to give up. They didn't think there would be any results. I could just wait for the day when the innocence of all practitioners would be restored, and then they would have to explain Dawei's wrongful death. I told them that we all need to work toward that day. We cannot sit and wait. There is a Chinese saying "The bond between the husband and wife lasts a long time even after just a single day of marriage." As his wife, I can't remain aloof to the wrongful and unexplained death of Dawei. Shouldn't the perpetrators responsible for his death be punished by the law? To be kind and tolerant doesn't include turning a blind eye to crimes and ruthless killings.
I don't want to think about how I spent the eight years in anxious wait. It is hard for someone who has not experienced it personally. I took care of our young daughter while taking care of my elderly parents. The hardship, the misery, the concern, and worries were beyond description. I don't know how many times I wept. I was even out of tears. Only blood dripped from my heart. I had thought that finally the wait was over after eight long years, but what came was a fatal blow. My mother could not take the blow and fainted upon hearing the news. Both my parents are now no longer in this world. I have lost them, and I have no house and no income. Dawei's parents asked me to live with them, but I am reluctant to go. To a certain extent, I am not facing reality. It is not because they live in a small village in the mountains. And it is not because I do not get along with them. Dawei's parents have not treated me as a daughter-in-law-- they have treated me as their own daughter. And I, too, have treated them as my own parents. I don't want to go live with them only because I don't want my presence to remind them of their son. I am even more afraid of what to say when Dawei's 99-year-old grandmother asks me why Dawei still has not returned home.
My daughter is now ten years old. She has forever lost her father's love without enjoying it for a single day. I dare not let her see my sorrow. I try all I can to pretend to be happy in front of her. She has suffered so much at this young age. Any sadness in me is contagious. When she sees me weeping, she always wipes off my tears with her small hands and says, "Mom, don't cry. Father is not with us. But I'm still with you. I will grow up and support you. When you get old, I will still take care of you. Mom, be happy!" I could not believe this is what a child, who is barely 10 years old, can say. She was a little over eight years old when his father passed away. When I saw her diary, I was heartbroken. She wrote in her diary, "I have to study hard. When I grow up, I need make a good living for my mother. I want to make her happy." She wrote on another occasion, "How much I want to live with Mom! But I'm now a boarding student." After her father passed away, I spent all my time in various government organizations. I have not been able to take care of her. I had to send her to live at the school. Sometime, when I took her to school, she cried as we walked and said, "Mom, when you're done taking care of Dad's case, can you come to see me as quickly as possible?" She would wipe clean her tears at the entrance, then rush in without daring to look back lest she would burst into tears again. Even when I have lost sight of her, I still stand there. I know how much she needs her father's love. She does not say it, but I know. Sometimes, she holds my neck and calls me Daddy.
The year after Dawei's passing away, I went to the various government organizations. I went to the Procuratorate, court, and the justice department to file a case. I went to the office for complaints and appeals and the People's Congress. So far I have not even been able to file the case. Instead, I have received numerous threats. Isn't this absurd? The perpetrators are not being investigated. The victim instead is being threatened. Despite the adverse circumstances, I still believe justice will prevail. This world is not a place where wrongs can be upheld by the wrong people. The perpetrators will be punished some day.
Not everyone has sided with the evil either. Many government employees have learned about my situation and showed their sympathy. They offered me ideas and help. On one occasion, I went to a government organization. The room was full of people, and all of them were sympathetic to me after listening to my narrative. They commented, "We went to Dongling Prison for a tour. It was said to be a civilized prison. How could they treat an inmate like this? Although we're not in charge of your appeal, you can go file the appeal to the organization that supervises the prison." One of the people in the room appeared to be an official. He took over my files, read it through, and said, "It is very well written. Just use this as your appeal." On another occasion, I went to an organization and met the leader. At first he was not very receptive. He said it was not the place and I had to go to a different organization. I told him that I needed his help. I did not know the proper legal procedures and had no idea how to proceed. He patiently explained what steps I should take. By the time I was about to leave, he knew more about my case. He told me if I had more questions, I could come back to ask him again. There is an office which I had returned to for the second time after six months. They immediately recognized me. An individual who had talked to me during my first visit asked me, "I told you to follow the procedure. Did you follow the one I outlined for you?" I replied, "I did not get all the legal terms you used. Would you mind explaining it one more time?" He took out a pen and wrote the steps down. At the end of last year, I went to an organization to find out whether they received my materials sent to them through express mail. One official was rather rude at the beginning. After I explained the situation, he turned sympathetic and said, "This was too harsh a sentencing!" Soon a young man came to take note of my inquiry. He was quite confrontational and interrogated me as if I were a criminal. The first official stayed nearby. He called the young man over and said something. The young man stopped questioning me and went upstairs to call for the officials in charge. Two officials came down. I had already met them a few times before. Although they still said that I lacked hard evidence, their attitude had softened, especially when I mentioned that it was again time that other families celebrate the new year, and I had no idea how my family was to make it through. One of the two leaders was moved. When I left, he walked me out all the way to the front door, and I noticed that his eyes were wet.
In the past year, I have visited many law offices. Many attorneys have not dared to take my case. They were so scared, as if they would suffer retaliation from the mafia, but some gave me good ideas. Some offered to write up my appeal for free. Some would charge a fee for initial consultations, but later they decided to waive the fee. In the end, I encountered Attorney Wang Jinglong. He was sympathetic to me and decided to help me. I didn't expect he would get the suppression that he received after taking up my case. I was upset. (Here I have to keep these other kindhearted people's names anonymous for fear that they too will be persecuted as was Attorney Wang.)
In today's China, Xu Dawei did nothing more than stay true to his belief, which is to be a good person by following the principle of Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance. He simply made a statement of the facts and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Even this was not sufficient in the eyes of some. They had to kill him. And people like Attorney Wang Jinglong, who answer the call of their consciences to uphold the basic rights of a citizen and to uphold justice in the legal system, instead of being rewarded, face systematic suppression. Fellow villagers in Dawei's hometown, out of their sympathy to the mother and daughter who survived Dawei, helped us in our appeal to the government. They too have faced threats. All this has blocked the legal channels to appeal my case. How can I explain the reality of our society to my daughter, who has yet to grow up in it?
Here I would like to thank those kindhearted people who helped me and otherwise comforted me. I thank them for voicing their support despite the suppression from the authoritarian power. Their support goes beyond my case alone. They are also helping to build legal and social justice and protect the basic rights of a citizen. They also conveyed their kindhearted expectation that the government may make the necessary corrections. What does not any make sense is that such acts of justice that deserve society's praise has caused such fear in government organizations. My gratitude surpasses my misery in my heart. I believe that a just and great society is built by each and every citizen. It is built upon the kindness and justice in our hearts. I believe, at the bottom of your heart, you also hold your share of sincerity, kindness, justice, and sympathy. There is no doubt which is right, which is wrong; which is just, and which is evil. Only under authoritarian power are people denied the ability to make their opinions known. There are these lyrics: "If everyone contributes the slightest bit of love, this world will turn into a beautiful place." What I want to say is that if everyone makes one statement of facts and makes public their slightest voice for justice to stop the perpetrators from carrying on the evildoing, the persecution of Falun Gong will no longer be sustained. Kindhearted people will no longer be persecuted. The evildoers will have no one to prey on. This way, not only kindhearted people will be saved, those who have been used to carry out the evil deeds will also be saved. I believe more kindhearted people are out there. You are one of them. It is possible that one statement of justice from you could make the difference.
One day, when the innocence of these people is restored, I will feel happy for you, for when facing the choice of justice and conscience, you have made the most kind, just, and brave choice. You will be able to face your family and future generations with a good conscience.
Here I would like thank those who have extended their help and care to me once again. Many of them are not my family, and some don't even know me.
I hope that all kindhearted people will have a safe journey in life. May heaven bless you for your kindness, and may a bright future await you.