The Memorable Summer of 1999 - the Experiences of Two Practitioners (Part 1)
(Clearwisdom.net) Two Falun Gong practitioners, who were more than 1,250 miles apart and did not know each other, took the same action 11 years ago. They expressed their opinions to various levels of the Chinese communist government and interceded for release of innocent arrested practitioners. The older female practitioner, Ms. Liu Jinghang, was an Associate Researcher at the Beijing Academy of Sciences. The younger male practitioner, Mr. Yeh, was a recent college graduate and worked for a Taiwan-based company in Zhuhai, Guangdong.
Ms. Liu Jinghang doing the fifth Falun Gong exercise. She currently resides in Australia.
These two practitioners live even farther apart now, separated by the Pacific Ocean. This nearly seventy-year-old woman now resides in Australia and that energetic young man, soon to be middle-aged, lives in Canada. They still do not know each other. But both are still doing the same deed: telling people the facts about Dafa and the persecution. They hope that the vicious persecution against Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance will end soon.
Let's journey back to that unforgettable day in July of 1999 for Ms Liu and Mr. Yeh.
3 a.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
Ms. Liu Jinghang was home alone in Beijing while her husband was visiting their daughter in the United States. She was roused by the ringing of the phone at around 3 a.m. A fellow Falun Gong practitioner called to report the news that all the coordinators in the Falun Dafa Association in Beijing had been arrested. She was instantly awake after hearing the grim news and intuitively felt that the persecution had really started.
The fleeting scenes of police appearing around her group exercise site over the past three months flashed across her mind. The policemen had appeared at the site since April 25th when more than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners peacefully appealed to the Beijing State Council at Zhongnanhai. On one occasion, more than 10 police cars and some 20 policemen and undercover agents completely surrounded the site, with two men taking pictures. The road to the site was blockaded and no one was allowed to pass through. Some armed police and cars were staked out in the nearby woods waiting to ambush the site. It made the whole area look terrifying.
When asked by fellow practitioners what they should do, her first response was to pass the news to all fellow practitioners and tell the government that it was wrong to do these things. She believed that the government had been deceived. She felt that once the government received explanations from a large number of practitioners, they would understand that Falun Gong does no harm but benefits the whole of society as it guides people to become good.
Ms. Liu immediately called all the practitioners she knew, even though the sun had not yet risen. She later learned that the CCP had arrested all those considered to be "Falun Gong key members" throughout the country on July 20, two days before it was broadcasted over the media that Falun Gong was banned.
5 a.m. on July 21 in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province: Mr. Yeh
Mr. Yeh started practicing Falun Gong when he was a student at Jiaotong University in Shanghai. He had worked in Zhuhai City for almost a year. He practiced at the group exercise site at 5 a.m. before he reported to work.
5 a.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
As Mr. Yeh started his exercise at Zhuhai City, Ms. Liu was already riding her bike to the Beijing State Council for a peaceful appeal. It was before dawn and no public buses were running yet. She had with her a couple of Falun Gong cassettes so that she could listen to Master's lectures during her free time. As a professional and wife, she used to study the Fa and practice the exercises at her leisure between work and family affairs. Using time wisely is one of Master's requirements of a practitioner. A practitioner should be good at work and at home.
Although she had told many practitioners about the arrest, she did not know how many would come for the peaceful appeal. She went there alone. She firmly believed that every practitioner would follow the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to determine what he or she should do. A true Falun Gong practitioner only uses peaceable means, no matter what happens or who is targeted.
Even the fresh early morning breeze could not alleviate the worry in her heart. As she rode down the quiet street, the 58-year-old and ready-to-retire scholar still believed it was every citizen's legal right to appeal to the government for the correction of misunderstandings. She never imagined that she would be illegally sentenced to three years by the CCP a year later. She also never expected to be brainwashed and physically and mentally tortured in prison by means such as forced-feeding, injection of unknown drugs, sleep deprivation and extended forced labor hours. She was also forced to have a complete physical examination and blood tests, which she later learned was the common first step in the CCP's live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Her retirement pension was also suspended.
7 a.m. on July 21 at Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province: Mr. Yeh
A fellow practitioner suddenly disturbed the quiet exercise site with news that some Falun Gong coordinators in Guangzhou and other Guangdong areas were arrested. The practitioners stopped the exercises and started discussing this issue.
Mr. Yeh immediately thought of an incident that had occurred on April 25th. The practitioners in Tianjin were arrested and then released after a peaceful appeal by fellow practitioners in Beijing. Afterwards, those practitioners involved were followed and monitored by plainclothes policemen. For him, this arrest was not an unexpected event. He felt, and many fellow practitioners agreed, that this new incident could also be resolved through the appeal process. Thus, they quickly left the site to prepare for an appeal to provincial officers in Guangzhou.
Around 7 a.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
Street cleaning is traditionally done by older women. Ms. Liu noticed that most of the street cleaners were strong, young men. They seemed to pay particular attention to pedestrians. She wondered if those strong, young men were really street cleaners or actually undercover police.
Ms. Liu parked her bike in a small alley near the State Council building on Xianmen Boulevard. Many practitioners had already been waiting on the roadside. Some police cars were parked there also. One officer stopped her and tore her bag open without showing his ID. She grappled with the policeman when he tried to take away her tape recorder and Falun Dafa cassettes. Her hands and arms were pinched and twisted. She was then forcibly whisked away to a nearby police station. In a matter of minutes, this respected senior scholar was taken to the police station and treated as a criminal just because she carried these cassette tapes.
Ms. Liu saw dozens of Falun Gong practitioners jailed inside the police station. Together they were taken by bus to the Shijingshan Gymnasium in an outlying suburb.
From 9 to 10 a.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
Summer in Beijing is sweltering and the temperature that day reached as high as 40oC (104oF). The police tightly closed all of the doors and windows of the gymnasium after the bus arrived. This caused the temperature inside the gym to rise to unbearable levels.
From 10 to 11 a.m. in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province: Mr. Yeh
Mr. Yeh and a few fellow practitioners his age discussed the best way to go from Zhuhai City to Guangzhou. After checking the bus schedules, they decided to rent a car. A special zone pass is usually required when entering Zhuhai City and no outbound inspections are made. But, on this particular day, the police unprecedentedly checked every passenger leaving town.
They were stopped at a checkpoint on their way out. The officers already knew they were Falun Gong practitioners. Mr. Yeh had no doubt that the name list that they had were provided by some new practitioners, who began practicing after April 25 to serve as informants for the police. A similar case had occurred in another city a few years before. Some of those informants became true practitioners after they realized the goodness of Falun Gong.
The practitioners were taken to a room for some time. The chief of the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau told them that he would not bother Falun Gong practitioners as long as they did not cause any trouble outside of Zhuhai. He directed his words specifically to Mr. Yeh. Then they were released.
Afternoon of July 21 in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province: Mr. Yeh
Mr. Yeh and his fellow practitioners didn't go home from the checkpoint. They decided to go on because they believed that citizens had the right to move freely and to appeal. They wanted to speak out for Falun Gong. One thought stuck in Mr. Yeh's mind: Arresting practitioners is a major issue and people have to do something. They were calm and fearless because they still had hope in the government.
They rented another car and took a different route to leave Zhuhai. Fortunately, they were able to travel straight to Guangzhou without being stopped.
From noon to 5 p.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
More and more Falun Gong practitioners were continuously taken to the Shijingshan Gymnasium. Ms. Liu estimated that more than 3,000 practitioners, including school children and elderly women, were held inside the building and tens of thousands of practitioners were held outside. Policemen were all over the area. Ms. Liu fulminated: "Why are we locked up in the gym? We just wanted to express our views and concerns. We want to be released. We want to appeal." Then she stood up and walked out, followed by many practitioners, but they were stopped by the police.
Inside the gym, the practitioners recited together Dafa articles and poems from Hong Yin and their voices resounded throughout the whole stadium. Police sent people inside with cameras to take pictures that would be used after the event against the practitioners.
Around 4 p.m. on July 21 in Guangzhou: Mr. Yeh
Mr. Yeh and his fellow practitioners finally arrived in Guangzhou. Unexpectedly, they didn't see any Falun Gong practitioners inside the government building... no one except the ubiquitous police. They learned that many local practitioners had gone to appeal earlier but were forcibly dispersed by armed police.
They then met some practitioners who were discussing the incident in a small park. Of course, everyone had differing opinions. Those who did not believe in the government went home. Some, including Mr. Yeh, refused to let this incident get worse and insisted that they should continue the appeal to the Central Government in Beijing. They thought the Central Government would realize it had made a mistake arresting those good people, who cultivated Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Mr. Yeh extended his leave and went with the others to Beijing by train.
From 5 to 7 p.m. on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
One officer from Beijing came to the gym with placards which separated practitioners into different groups by address. Using a megaphone, the officer instructed the practitioners to line up in their assigned areas. Fellow practitioners refused to move because they knew it was a plot to break them up.
A large number of armed police suddenly came to the gym to forcefully take away the practitioners. Ms. Liu urged everyone to stand up together, arm-in-arm. The armed police proceeded to brutally beat the practitioners, even the women, the elderly and children. The whole gym was in chaos. Two armed police even pinched Ms. Liu's arms, pulled her legs and dragged her outside. She felt a pang as if she were being stabbed in the heart. She and some fellow practitioners were later pushed onto a big bus and driven to the Workers' Stadium at Chaoyang.
The practitioners were required to sign their names and addresses. Ms. Liu thought that the government would admit it was wrong to arrest Falun Gong practitioners and release them if they heard from a large number of people. So, she signed her name.
Evening of July 21 in Guangzhou: Mr. Yeh
Mr. Yeh and some fellow practitioners boarded the train in the evening. Some officials from the Security Bureau of Guangzhou started checking passengers' IDs after the train left. Surprisingly, the Guangzhou officials already knew the names of practitioners from Zhuhai. Obviously, they had an inter-province coordination network. When they arrived at the platform, Mr. Yeh found that more than 30 Zhuhai practitioners had already been rounded up there.
Midnight on July 21 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
After writing down their names, the practitioners were released from the stadium. It was past midnight when Ms. Liu was released and arrived home. She was exhausted from the long hours without food and water in the furnace-like conditions for the whole day.
Midnight at Shaoguan: Mr. Yeh
The train stopped at Shaoguan City before it arrived in Beijing. All the practitioners were taken off the train and watched at the train station for a long time before they were taken to a big bus in the dark. Mr. Yeh and his fellow practitioners were sent back to Zhuhai Pulbic Security Bureau. It was a very hot summer day. The practitioners were physically exhausted, but no one showed signs of any health problems.
The police did not understand the reason that the practitioners had to appeal in Beijing. They berated the practitioners. However, the practitioners kindly clarified the truth about Falun Gong. They explained that Falun Gong practitioners had not "attacked" Zhongnanhai. Rather, they just rationally and legally appealed the case in Beijing.
Early Morning on July 22 at Zhuhai, Guangdong Province: Mr. Yeh
Around 3 a.m., Mr. Yeh and other Zhuhai practitioners were taken to an enormous room inside the Security Bureau Building, where they were individually interrogated by the police. Mr. Yeh did not know why the separate interrogation had to be done in the wee hours, but that did not matter to any of the practitioners. They just clarified the truth about Falun Gong.
Mr. Yeh told the police that Falun Gong practitioners were innocent and the false information had been wrongfully disseminated. The police asked Mr. Yeh some questions regarding Falun Gong and listened to Mr. Yeh's clarification. The police also used "National Policy" violation as an excuse to defend the arrests. Mr. Yeh demurred that the government has an obligation to correct its wrong policies. At the end, his ID card was confiscated. It was a long, sleepless night.
Early Morning on July 22 in Beijing: Ms. Liu
Ms Liu didn't fall asleep before 3 a.m. She got up in the early morning despite the fatigue from 16 long hours of torment the previous day. She was still vexed that she didn't have a chance to express her opinion to the person in charge. She still wanted to clarify the truth about Falun Gong. Besides, her bike was still in the alley. So, she got on a bus in the early morning again.
(To Be Continued)