A Music Teacher's Journey
(Minghui.org) I was at a market in August of 2017 and saw someone trying to give a stallholder some Falun Dafa informational materials. The man refused to take them.
“When I was in school,” the man said, “my music teacher practiced Falun Dafa. She was very kind, yet such a nice teacher was sentenced to five years in prison. I haven't seen her since then.”
I walked over and asked him which school he attended.
“Jinzhou City Taihe No.2 secondary school,” he replied.
“Do you remember your music teacher's name?”
“Mrs. Xu.” He looked me up and down. “Are you Mrs. Xu?”
He slowly walked towards me with tears in his eyes. He opened his arms and held me tightly, crying loudly. People at the market didn't know what happened and stared at us.
He said, “Mrs. Xu, remember you taught me how to play the piano when I was your student? After you left, no one taught us piano. If you were not persecuted and were still teaching us, I probably would have become a musician.”
He started crying again before stopping to ask, “Mrs. Xu, how did you get imprisoned?”
His words brought back memories of how I had been persecuted for holding firm to my belief in Falun Dafa.
Practicing Falun Dafa
My name is Xu Qingfang. I am 70 years old. I was a music teacher for 25 years at a primary school and later a secondary school.
I used to suffer from many illnesses—thyroma, rheumatism, cerebral atherosclerosis, and atrophic rhinitis. I started practicing Falun Dafa in 1996 and all my illnesses disappeared within a month of practicing.
I experienced the beautiful state of being free of illness and understood the genuine meaning of life. I began to do things according the principles of 'Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance' in my daily life.
Back then I taught music at a middle school in a rural area. The village was in financial trouble and often delayed paying our salaries. There was a dearth of musical instruments. The only keyboard we had did not work, but the curriculum still required students to meet certain musical standards. I moved my own piano to school, and also bought a few other musical instruments for the 16 classes that I taught.
The young man mentioned above was one of my students. He was a highly motivated and hard-working young boy.
Persecution of Falun Dafa
Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), launched the persecution of Falun Dafa in July 1999. The state-run media was used to attack and slander Falun Dafa. Many people were deceived by the propaganda.
I used the opportunity during my lessons to tell the students the facts about Falun Dafa and the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The majority of my students liked to listen.
One student reported me to the principal, and I was not allowed to teach after that. One day I saw a police van drive into the school and knew that they had come for me.
I spent 40 days in a brainwashing center for not giving my Dafa books to the police, and I didn't want to be persecuted again. I decided to leave the school before they came to get me, and had to stay away from home to avoid arrest.
When the new school term began, I called the principal and told him that I wanted to go back to work, but the principal told me that I couldn't because I was on the police wanted list.
Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
I went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Dafa in May 2002. I was arrested and taken back to my hometown. I was taken directly to the Jinzhou Detention Center and held there for eight months.
One Falun Dafa practitioner in the detention center was beaten by a guard for shouting, “Falun Dafa is good.” In order to stop the persecution of Dafa practitioners, the practitioners there started a hunger strike. On the fifth day of my hunger strike, I was forced fed through my nose.
I was later sentenced to five years in prison without trial, and my family members weren't informed.
I was taken to the Dabei Prison in Shenyang City in January 2003. The prison guard assigned two inmates convicted of murder to monitor me.
The two inmates took me to a dark room, where the windows were completely covered. They forced me to learn some sentences that I had to say when I spoke to them, such as “Criminal Xu wants to report such and such.”
I didn't do what they asked, so they beat me from early in the morning till late at night. My clothes were ripped and my body was covered with cuts and bruises. The severe beatings made me lose my memory.
My daughter came to see me on the second day after I arrived at the prison, but the guards didn't allow her to see me.
I was forced to sit on a small stool because I refused to give up my beliefs. I was deprived of my basic rights of sleeping, drinking, washing and speaking.
When started to fall asleep on the stool, they would pour a large basin of cold water over my head, even in the winter. I was also forced to clean the long corridors and the toilet.
Because of long term persecution, my legs were seriously swollen, and I walked with a limp. My finger joints were in pain and swollen. I couldn't clench my hands into fists or fasten my buttons. In addition, I lost my memory. Other inmates said that I had dementia and was senile.
Other practitioners and I were made to do forced labor from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. each day, and we were not allowed to have lunch and supper or go to bed if we didn't finish our work. We sometimes finished at around midnight.
I didn't think that I could continue living if my life was like this for five years. I wrote a note to let people know that I was persecuted to death if one day I died in here.
Witnessing Other Practitioners Being Tortured
I witnessed how other practitioners were tortured during my detention.
An elderly practitioner's hands were tied up, and she was forced to squat under the table with her mouth covered with tape.
One day the elderly practitioner was pushed to the floor, and one of the inmates stepped on her and beat her. I witnessed this and shouted, “Criminals are beating a good person!” I was then punched by this inmate.
Another practitioner, Ms. Li Ling, used to be an official of the Guta District Organization Department. One day an inmate covered her head with a duvet and sat on her head. She died of suffocation.
Practitioner Ms. Liu Man was severely injured when an inmate jabbed her breast with scissors.
Before I was released on May 13, 2007, the guards tried to force me to sign their documents. I wrote: “I am innocent.”
Buying Musical Instruments at My Own Expense
When I worked at a school in the countryside, all of the teacher's salaries were controlled by the local authorities. Our wages were always delayed for months because the authorities embezzled our money.
The school was short of musical instruments due to the dire financial situation. There was no piano, only an electronic keyboard that didn't work.
In order to help students improve their musical skills and knowledge, I took my own new piano to school. I later bought a tape recorder, electronic keyboard and harmonica, and used my own time to help the students.
My hard work was rewarded, as one of girls passed the exams and was accepted by a university. Her mother came from the countryside especially to thank me and wanted to give me some money. I refused, and told her that they should thank my teacher Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, as he teaches me to do things like this.
Giving Up a Promotion
Before I started practicing Falun Dafa, there was an opportunity to change our teacher status. Only three teachers passed all the assessments, and I was one of them. However, my position was taken by someone else. I was so angry that I fainted.
Now that I practice Falun Dafa, I think of others first.
Our school had an opportunity to promote some teachers, but the quota was limited. One person who was responsible for promoting staff said, “If we had only one position, it should belong to Mrs. Xu. She is the most experienced.”
I gave up this opportunity so that others could take it. I told my colleagues, “You are all young and should pursue your future.”
I was going to retire early in 2006, as my daughter was going to give birth and I wanted to be with her.
I applied for retirement before the summer holiday started. When the new term started, I asked the school principal if they had a new music teacher. He told me that no one likes to come to our school because the wages are always delayed.
I thought that I couldn't leave the students without music lessons, so I discussed the situation with my daughter and son-in-law to have a nanny to take care of them.
If I continued to work, I would actually get paid less than my pension, as I had to travel to work, but I thought it was worth it if students could continue their music lessons.
We had an annual teachers conference in 2000. All the teachers in the school gave speeches. When I finished my speech, there was enthusiastic applause.
One teacher told me that she had tears in her eyes when she listened to my report. Another teacher said that the reason my report was touching was because I did so well.
The local music college recruited only two students from our district each year. There was always one student from my school, and sometimes both were my students.
I was awarded the prize of “model teacher” and my lesson plans were marked as “excellent.”