Twenty Years of Cultivation: Hard Times, Happy Times (Part 2 of 4)
(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 1)
As Dafa practitioners, we are truly lucky to have signed an agreement with Master. In it we promised to come down to this world, assist Master during the Fa-rectification, awaken the conscience of sentient beings, and fulfill our vows. Such a precious opportunity to cultivate in Dafa, a righteous way, only comes once in the history of the universe.
Experiencing the Persecution
Leaving for Beijing to Petition the Government
A practitioner asked me in October 2000, “Do you dare to go to Beijing to petition the government?” I said, “It’s not a matter of whether I dare or not. I believe that Master and Dafa are good and innocent, so I should petition the government.” A few local practitioners and I made plans to go to Beijing in late November, although we had heard many stories of practitioners being arrested, detained, and tortured in Beijing.
Just as I made up my mind to go to Beijing, my father said, “I heard that the police arrested a lot of Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing. Many were beaten and injured.” I know he was worried about my going to Beijing.
The entire society was filled with disinformation about Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, at the time. All major Chinese media channels broadcasted the government’s false propaganda slandering Falun Gong around the clock. People deceived by these lies turned hostile towards Dafa practitioners. The amount of hatred and prejudice was disheartening. Even our family didn’t understand, and pressured us to quit our faith. We felt the pressure from all directions.
However, none of it stopped the practitioners from going to Beijing and petitioning for our right to practice Falun Gong. At the time we were still very naive and placed our trust in the government to change its mind and reverse the persecution.
The night before we left for Beijing, I told my wife, “I am going to Beijing to petition the government. Would you like to come with us? It is completely up to you.” She said, “I want to go as well. It’s my choice.” Neither of us knew whether or not we could return home. We were leaving behind two small children and my elderly father, whom we couldn’t tell about it or we would not be able to leave at all.
That night, we put our girls to bed around 9 p.m. We stood by their bed for a long time after they fell asleep, and I couldn’t take my eyes off their innocent faces. My heart was breaking into pieces—the thought that we might never see them again was killing me.
But Master and the Fa were slandered, and as a Dafa practitioner, I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. I knew my daughters would be very proud of us and our choice when they grow up. At least they would know that their father was not an ungrateful person, nor was he a coward.
We left home in the middle of the night and arrived at our meeting place early. After a short wait, everyone came. An elderly practitioner who couldn’t go also came to say goodbye, “You are truly great. What you are doing is remarkable.” We packed into one car, rode to the train station and boarded a Beijing bound train. With Master’s protection, we arrived in Beijing as planned.
Petitioning at Tiananmen Square
It was about five or six a.m. when we arrived at Tiananmen Square. There were already quite a lot of people gathered at the flag pole waiting for the flag raising ceremony. There were plainclothes police officers, as we were told later.
I looked around and thought, “It’s a good spot to be at under that flag. The crowd would be able to hear me really well.” I walked toward the flag pole, tried to get to the front, but the crowd didn’t let me through. The flag pole was roped off so that people couldn't get too close, and inside stood an armed soldier. There were also soldiers in uniform around the flag pole.
I said to a soldier near me, “I think I heard people talking about Falun Gong.” He quickly looked around, “Where?” I waved, “Follow me.” As I maneuvered through the crowd, the solider followed and shouted to the crowd, “Move! Move!” People moved aside, and let us pass. I climbed over the rope, stood at the base of the flag pole and shouted as loudly as I could, “Falun Dafa is good!”
Within seconds, I was pushed to the ground by the soldier behind me, and a couple of plainclothed men. As I was pinned to the ground and being cuffed, I heard “Falun Dafa is good. Restore Master’s reputation” from all directions and the righteous voices lingered in the air above Tiananmen Square. Having done what I came to do, I was pleased and relieved.
Police cars rushed to the scene with their sirens on. Police officers jumped out and started arresting people. They beat practitioners with batons and tried to grab the banners out of their hands, “Falun Dafa is good. Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good. Restore Master’s reputation.” The police punched, kicked, and cursed those who resisted or didn’t let go of the banners. The law enforcement of our nation’s capital acted like a group of gangsters in broad daylight.
Detained and Reunited with My Wife
I was pushed into a police car that was already full of arrested practitioners. That was when I realized that I had been separated from my wife and the group we came with.
I was taken to a police station close by. All of the rooms at this police station were occupied by practitioners who had come to Tiananmen Square from throughout China – male and female, young and old, and from all walks of life. Although I had never met any of them, they all looked familiar and so dear to me.
A practitioner who was about my age – I was 31 at the time – told everyone in that room, “We can’t stay here. We should leave.” As he was speaking, he got up and ran out of the room. It might have been a hint from Master to follow him, but I didn’t realize it at the time and just stood there. In hindsight, I could have escaped if I tried that day since the police was clearly shorthanded.
The police herded us into a police car at around 11 a.m. and took us to Shijingshan Prison. After getting out of the car, I walked among other practitioners toward the prison entrance with police officers walking behind us. I had my luggage in my hand and walked in the front. There was a row of security guards standing outside of the entrance. I walked up to them and nodded, “Hello.”
The guards didn’t expect me to greet them, they stood up straight and responded, “Hello.” The guards were two meters apart, I greeted each as I walked by. Other practitioners also followed suit and got the same response. Instead of escorted detainees, I felt as if we were high ranking officials here for an inspection.
Once inside, the guards patted us down and took away all of our personal belongings. A tall officer about 6’ 2” took me to an office and talked with me. I don’t remember much of our conversation since it’s been so long, but vaguely remember being asked where I was from, why I was in Beijing and how many people I was with. I didn’t tell him anything. He grabbed me and dragged me upstairs into another office. He took a second to catch his breath, pointed to more than a dozen pictures on the table, and asked, “Do you know them?”
I saw my wife’s photo. She had a dark spot on her cheek, and I wondered if she was beaten, “Did you guys hit her?” The officer laughed, “Do you know her?” I told him she was my wife. “No, she was not beaten.” He said, “You can see her but you will have to tell me your name and address first.” I gave him my information and was taken to my wife. It was such a relief to see that she was fine.
Transitioning at Shijingshan Prison
It was around noon, and we were separated and taken to different cells. I thought, “I could have never imagined that I would be arrested and detained for being a good person. What kind of world is this?” I entered the male cell, and saw about seven or eight people sleeping on the floor, on top of a wooden board. To the left of the room, there was a water pipe and a urinal behind a short concrete wall.
I sat down close to the door, and the guard brought me a dark cornmeal bun, and a bowl of vegetables. Not very appetizing but not knowing what lay ahead, I thought I’d better eat while there was still food.
After eating, I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes. I was tired. I thought about how I had never left my village before, and the journey that had led me to this very cell at this very moment. My thought was pure throughout the trip, and I was very calm, not scared at all. I just knew that I had to do what I did.
Loud music suddenly was played from a speaker on the wall and woke up the people on the floor. They got up and formed a row. I didn’t know what they were doing. One of them stared at me and ordered me to take off my clothes and take a shower. I didn’t see any showerhead or sink anywhere, so I asked where I should go to take a shower and how. “Use the bathroom but don’t get the floor wet. There’s a plastic basin in there, and use the cold water from the sink.”
I thought, “I am a Dafa practitioner and am not afraid of anything. What’s a cold shower going to do to me. Bring it on.” I took off my clothes and poured a basin full of cold water over my head. I didn’t feel cold at all and felt great. I learned later that as a tradition of this cell, the cold shower was meant to cause the newcomer some discomfort and help establish the hierarchy.
I got dressed and sat down on the floor. The guy who told me to take a shower was now much more friendly. All the guys said in unison, “Oh.” They had seen many arrested Falun Gong practitioners before.
They asked me what Falun Gong was all about. I told them, “Falun Gong teaches people to be good, and asks them to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. We improve our xinxing and cultivate compassion. It’s a high-level Buddha Fa.”
One of them stood up, walked close to me, and stared at me with a menacing look, “Move, Newbie! Go sit in the corner. You don’t get a turn to speak.” I calmly look at him and didn’t more. The guy who told me to take a shower earlier laughed at him and said, “That doesn’t work on this dude.” The guy was embarrassed and walked away.
Returning to My Hometown
A guard called on me at about five p.m. Outside, I was joined by the group of practitioners from my hometown, including my wife, and a few others from our county. I was happy to see them.
The guard took us to the entrance of the prison, where seven or eight plainclothes officers had been waiting for us. After climbing into the police car, we found out that our county had a liaison office in Beijing specifically for arresting and detaining Falun Gong practitioners from our county who petitioned at Tiananmen Square. Those officers were going to take us to the liaison office, before escorting us back home.
We were interrogated separately as soon as we arrived at the liaison office. It was actually more like a robbery than an interrogation—all my identifications and cash that I had on me were taken without a receipt. You could tell that these guys had done this many times before and knew exactly what to do. They have probably gotten quite a small fortune this way. We were then separated and detained in a couple of small cells.
My wife, I, and two other women practitioners were held in one room. We were cuffed in pairs, not given anything to eat, and were made to sit on the chair for the entire night. The cuffs tightened each time a practitioner’s hands bumped into the chair and they cut into her wrists and caused swelling. When we asked the guards to loosen the cuffs, they said no, “It’s intended for you guys to suffer. That is what you get for causing trouble.”
As a child I used to believe that “police officers are good people” who are “after the bad guys,” and they could be trusted because they “help good people.” But my experience in Beijing convinced me otherwise. I saw with my own eyes that the policemen in Beijing beat innocent citizens, including the elderly and children. The guards at the liaison office robbed people of their money and personal belongings.
They treated Dafa practitioners like criminals and had no concept of human rights. All the things I encountered since I went on this trip awakened me, and I was utterly disappointed in the CCP.
We were later escorted back to our hometown and held at the local detention center for more than three months. Many other local practitioners were also detained there. My understanding of the Fa principles was very shallow at the time and I didn't really know how to resist the persecution. All I had was my unwavering faith in Master and the Fa.
At the Detention Center
Officers from the local police department interrogated us soon after we arrived at the detention center. The interrogation room was set up with a table in the middle, two chairs on one side, and a metal chair on the other side. I was told to sit in the metal chair, and then the police pulled up a metal bar from the side of the chair and locked me in place. I sat there and calmly looked at them.
When I left home to go to Beijing, I had let go of the notion of life and death. I was no longer attached to anything or anybody in this secular world. Nothing the police said or did could sway me. I don’t remember exactly what they asked during those sessions since it’s been almost 20 years, probably just the usual—who organized the trip, and why we went to Beijing.
I told them it was my own idea. I told them that Dafa taught me how to be a good person, a law-abiding citizen that contributed positively to society. I told them that I learned from the Fa how to harmonize relations with neighbors and family, and how to always examine myself when facing a conflict.
I gave them the example that I voluntarily turned in my share of grain to the government in the fall. “If everybody practiced Falun Dafa, wouldn’t society be stable and harmonious? I don’t understand why the government labeled such a good practice as a cult.” I told them that I went to Beijing because I wanted to tell the leaders of the central government what Falun Dafa really is—a righteous Fa that teaches people to be good people.
The police officers made notes in their notebooks as I spoke. A few days later, the police informed me that they had started the legal process to bring charges against me, and that I would likely be sentenced to forced labor.
I calmly told the officer, “It’s not up to you.” He was curious, “Who is it up to then?” I said, “I am telling you that it’s all up to Master.” At that moment I firmly believed in Master and the Fa. The officer sneered, “We’ll find out soon enough who the boss is.”
The harsh environment of the detention center made time seem slower to most people, but to me, time was flying. I had all the time in the world to recite the Fa each day without having to worry about a thing, unlike at home where I had to work and take care of the family. The Fa gave me a clear mind and a peaceful heart.
Only once in a while when I was on night duty, I looked through the one square inch opening on the wall, into the dark night sky studded with stars, and thought of my elderly father and my adorable daughters. I knew, however, whatever hardship they were going through would bring them blessings in the end.
The Tiananmen Square Self-immolation Hoax
It was the beginning of 2001 and the Chinese New Year was approaching. One night the police herded all the detainees to the courtyard to watch a television program. It turned out to be the Tiananmen Square self-immolation hoax staged by the communist regime that shocked the world.
After watching it, I immediately told a guard, “It’s fake.” He asked, “How do you know?” I explained to him, “First of all, Master told us that it’s a crime to commit suicide. Second, I was arrested at Tiananmen just recently. There were soldiers, police officers, plainclothes policemen everywhere. It wasn’t even Chinese New Year when I was there, and I would imagine they had increased manpower during the holidays. How could all those law enforcement officers let someone take his sweet time dumping gas on himself and light himself on fire. How is that possible? It’s such a joke.” The guard didn’t say anything.
I was put in a police car out of the blue one day and taken to the police station for an interrogation session, where the police asked general questions. Afterward, I was cuffed to a metal bed frame all day. Only one of my hands was cuffed during the day, but at night both my hands were raised above my head and cuffed to the headboard. I could only lie down in bed.
The handcuffs stayed on for seven days, and the guards monitored me around the clock. The director of the police station had a bad temper and constantly shouted and screamed at his officers. With Master’s protection, I was not verbally abused or beaten. However, the director said things that weren’t respectful to Master and received retribution—he died in a car accident soon after I was released.
I was taken back to the detention center after a week. The rest of my time there was relatively peaceful. The detainees were allowed to go outside each day to the three-square-meter area adjacent to the cells. That small area leads to an iron gate, extended upward with a welded net made with steel bars 16 centimeters in diameter.
Practitioners from different cells wrote Master’s Fa teachings on pieces of paper, folded them neatly, and wrapped them with another piece of paper to make them look like balls of paper. When we went outside in the morning, they threw the paper balls through the net above the iron gate.
That was how we passed Master’s new scriptures from one to another. The women practitioners detained there did a great job of upholding the Fa. They did the exercises together as a group. The guards dragged them out of their cells and beat the bottom of their feet with a baton, but they never gave in.
My older brother worked his connections and paid 10,000 yuan to bail me out after three months. My father was not upset, but he told me not to do it again. My wife was released a month later after we paid another 10,000 yuan. The police didn’t give us any receipt for the money we paid, and I bet all of it went into someone’s personal bank account.
(To be continued)