A Childhood Spent in Fear and Flight: Growing Up Amid Persecution in China
(Minghui.org) Most of my childhood was spent in fear and flight. Both my parents practiced Falun Gong, and my dad was illegally imprisoned for eight years for his faith. Merely 13 days after he was released, he died in the hospital and left us forever.
My mother was arrested four times, and some of those times, she was only released because she was on the verge of death. During that period of persecution, in less than 100 days, my mother lost four of her closest family members, including my father, uncle, grandfather, and grandmother. No words could describe my mom’s suffering. I was only eight years old at that time. I was so scared that I could only hide in the corner and cry alone.
My Parents Arrested
In 2001, my mom and dad were arrested by officers from the Shengli Police Station in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province for printing materials with facts about Falun Gong. This case was regarded as a major national Falun Gong printing case. My father was illegally sentenced to eight years in prison. Just 28 days after the illegal detention, my mother found out that she was pregnant, so she was released on bail pending trial.
Mom and Dad were beaten by the police when they were arrested. They didn’t know that Mom was pregnant with me. She was beaten on her head, face and back. She was beaten so badly that she felt dizzy, vomited, and had a buzzing sound in her ears. She was ordered to squat down without moving for the whole night. Fortunately, she did not have a miscarriage, or I would not have come to this world.
I can remember seeing my father twice ever, for a total of only 13 days. I never got to know my father before I lost him forever. Whenever I used to see other children with their fathers, I envied them and longed to have a father too. But I could only look at Dad’s pictures often.
During those eight years, our family went to the prison to see my father, but most of the time we were not allowed to see him. Because the prison knew that my mother, grandparents, and grandparents practiced Falun Gong, they ordered us to curse Falun Gong and its founder as a condition to see Dad. Sometimes they said we couldn’t see him because he did not give up Falun Gong and was under strict confinement.
The first time I saw my dad was when I was seven, and my mom and I were finally allowed to see him in prison. Although he was very thin, he was in good spirits. He was excited to see me and wanted to hug me. Although I knew he was my dad, he was strange to me and I was afraid to let him hug me. This has become my eternal regret.
My Father's Death
The second time I saw my father was when he was released after finishing his eight-year incarceration. We were totally shocked when we saw him. We could hardly recognize him, as he had been tortured so badly during the last year in Shenyang Dongling Prison. His hair had turned white, and his body was skinny and scarred. The wounds on his knees and ankle bones were not healed, and there were strangle marks on his neck. His abdomen showed the marks of electric baton shocks. He had difficulty breathing.
He was also in mental disarray, being clearhead for a while and then confused. At night, he would suddenly hold his head and squat behind the wall and door in extreme fear. We cried and tried to comfort him, telling him not to be afraid, telling him that he was home now.
The family made him all kinds of delicious food, but he couldn’t eat it. Finally, we took him to the hospital. The doctor checked him and tried to draw blood but failed. Dad died in the hospital due to organ failure, despite efforts to save him. When he died, he yelled out, “Falun Dafa is good! Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance is good!” Grandpa hugged him, and Dad died in his arms.
He was only 36 years old, and my grandparents had to suffer his death at such a young age. What my mother and I had been waiting for those eight years turned out to be a devastating blow.
In order to redress our grievances, my mother went everywhere to petition. She went to my father’s hometown to seek help from fellow villagers to file a joint complaint, and she asked a lawyer to appeal through legal procedures. In return, she was threatened with arrest.
Because 376 people from my father’s hometown publicly signed a joint letter in support of my mother’s seeking justice, it shocked the entire government of Liaoning Province and Zhou Yongkang, the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee. He personally ordered my mother’s arrest.
Because they did not find my mother, they took away my uncle, who did not practice Falun Gong. They further threatened the villagers not to participate in our family’s affairs. Our lawyer’s license was suspended, and all members of his law firm were ordered to write repentance statements. They were ordered not to take up my father’s case.
The police tracked and monitored my mom, and she was arrested by plainclothes officers in Shenyang and detained at the police station overnight. She was released because she had convulsions and her life was in danger.
The Persecution Continues
Since I was eight years old, I never had a stable life. By the time I reached third grade, I had been forced to transfer to four schools already. Later, I lived at the school. On Saturdays and Sundays, my mother’s friends, though not the same person each time, would come to pick me up.
My fourth school was the Shenyang Lions School. Most of my teachers were Falun Gong practitioners. The teachers were very caring and took good care of me, and my classmates were also very kind. I could see my mother on weekends. Because she was seeking justice for my father, my mother spent a lot of time in Shenyang. I was very happy at the school. I thought this time I finally had a stable place to live and study.
However, the fear did not leave me. I remember one day in August 2012, a classmate said she saw a message on Minghui.org saying that the wife of Xu Dawei (my father) had been arrested. I was so scared that I didn’t know what to do. I ran to the balcony and cried. My classmates ran out and asked me what was wrong. I said, “What should I do? My mother was arrested and my father was persecuted to death. Am I going to be an orphan? I have nothing!” I asked the teacher if my mother had really been arrested. The teacher comforted me and said, “Your mother is fine.” But my mother was really arrested. Many days later, my dying mother was released. I was so fortunate that I did not become an orphan.
On October 22, 2013, police officers came to our school and arrested many of the teachers and principals who practiced Falun Gong. Several classmates and I ran out and escaped.
Later, I heard that many of my classmates were taken away by the police. Among them, one of the boys, Ba Guan, was held for many days. The police did not let him sleep for four days and ordered him to accuse the teachers and report on who the teachers had contacted, and then they imposed charges on the teacher. He was terrified and died of a mental breakdown after returning home. Later, Minghui.org reported the death of my classmate.
For a long time after that, I was often awakened by nightmares, and someone had to hold my hand so I could fall asleep at night. After all this happened, I could no longer attend my favorite school. The police put my mother on the wanted list because of my father’s case. The police were also looking for me because of the school's case. My mother and I became homeless.
Forced to Flee China
In February 2014, my mother and 12-year-old me were forced to flee to Thailand. But even after we arrived in Thailand, we did not live without fear. Under economic pressure by the CCP, Thailand’s government also arrested Falun Gong practitioners at our rental places. My mother and I were almost caught by the Thai police and sent to immigration prison. In the three years we stayed in the country, the Thai police arrested nearly 30 Falun Gong practitioners and even tried to repatriate them because of their belief.
I am now very fortunate to have been accepted by the U.S. government to live in the United States. I no longer have to worry about persecution. I can believe in Falun Gong freely, go to school freely, and speak up for those persecuted people freely.
However, the persecution in China continues, and many children still suffer the same fear as I did before. Some have become orphans, some are forcibly separated from their parents, and some are displaced and cannot return home. Some children cannot attend school and some children are discriminated against. This must be stopped immediately. We call on kind people and governments of all countries to take effective measures to help stop this persecution.
Thank you for your attention.
Category: Young Practitioners' Experiences