“I Grew Up Fearful and Discriminated Against”
(Minghui.org) As the daughter of two Falun Gong practitioners, Ms. Zhang Huijie, now 21, has witnessed and been a victim of the 16-year persecution since she was seven. She recently filed a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, then leader of the Chinese Communist Party, for starting the persecution.
Ms. Zhang's childhood and teen years were filled with fear and anxiety. She witnessed her parents being arrested again and again for their belief, watched them suffer from painful injuries, and has been followed and harassed herself. Growing up, she moved from one relative's home to another, enduring criticism and hostility from family members and strangers alike.
“The horror of watching my parents be arrested haunts my dreams even now. I often wake up in the middle of the night crying. I still find myself turning around to see if I am being followed. Once happy and outgoing, I have become reserved and introverted.”
Ms. Zhang's parents have been arrested and illegally detained multiple times in the past more than 10 years. Her father's lumbar vertebrae were broken twice due to beatings in the detention center. He is now permanently disabled. Her mother was at one point paralyzed and couldn't take care of herself.
“My parents and I have endured so much,” she said. “I hope Jiang will be brought to justice one day. But nothing can make up for my lost childhood, my father's ruined health, the pain we've suffered, or the tears we've cried.”
Ms. Zhang submitted her lawsuit to the Supreme People's Procuratorate in August. She holds Jiang responsible for what her family has been through.
The following is Ms. Zhang's account of her and her family's ordeal.
My Life Was Never the Same Again
My father's name is Zhang Keliang and my mother is Wang Zhongyun. We live in Shouguang City in Shandong Province. My parents both started practicing Falun Gong in May 1996, and our entire family benefited. I have not been sick since the age of two.
My parents taught me to live by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and to always consider others first. I remember whenever we saw trash bags left in the hallways of our apartment building, my parents always told me to take them to the dumpster. We were happy and well-liked.
However, all that changed in an instant when Falun Gong was labeled a “cult,” and across the country, its practitioners were arrested and detained.
My parents have been arrested repeatedly since 2001, and I've often been followed, harassed, and without a home. I stayed with my 80-year-old Nainai (my grandma on my father's side) for the most part. Several other relatives took me in briefly at times but quickly kicked me out because of social pressure.
Duped by the government's lies and fabricated stories that slandered Falun Gong, our entire family turned against us—they cursed and insulted my parents in front of me and didn't want anything to do with us. When I stayed with Nainai, she often took her resentment out on me. Once, she snatched something that I had just bought out of my hand and gave it to my cousin.
I transferred three times in elementary school, and my classmates always saw me as an outsider. I remember trying to explain to my homeroom teacher one time what Falun Gong really was. She not only refused to listen, she also told my best friend's mom what I'd said. My best friend later told me, “My mom said I can't be friends with you anymore because your mom practices Falun Gong.” I was so sad.
Although I didn't have a lot of the things my peers had growing up, I didn't really care. All I wanted was to be with my parents and to have a normal family. However, the persecution made that an impossible wish.
Separated from My Parents for the First Time
While posting Falun Gong information with my parents in the neighborhood one night in September 2001, the police came out of nowhere and arrested us. We were taken to the police station, and my parents were interrogated separately. We spent the night there, monitored by three officers. One of them moved his bed to block the door before he went to sleep.
The next day, they took my mom and me home and ransacked it. They left me at Nainai's house and took my mom with them. I learned later that both my parents were put through forced brainwashing by the city 610 Office.
I was separated from my parents for the first time in my life. With mom and dad gone, I was all alone. Everyone else in the family turned hostile and criticized and insulted my parents. I was only seven and didn't fully understand what was going on and why they were gone. I missed them so much.
After they were released from the brainwashing center, my dad had to work without pay for a year and my mother was fired from her job. Relatives from my dad's side of the family didn't talk to my mom anymore.
Parents Arrested Again
I thought my nightmare was over when my parents were released. Little did I know, it was just the beginning. Mother was arrested again just a month later. The police came pounding on our door at night. The noise woke me up.
To avoid being arrested again, my father jumped off the balcony from our second floor apartment. The police kicked the door open and went after him when they realized he was gone. The power was out that night, and it was pitch black in the room. I was too terrified to even cry out. It was the scariest memory of my life and often comes back in my dreams to haunt me.
My father didn't get away after all—he was arrested and taken to the Wenjia Police Station, where the police beat him and broke his back. My father was hospitalized. When Mother went to visit him after she was released, my aunt drove her out. She also tried to get my dad to divorce my mom.
Despite the rest of the family's hostile attitude, my parents stayed together and remained steadfast in their cultivation in Falun Gong. My father partially recovered from his back injury but the damage to his lumbar vertebrae was permanent.
Dropped Out of School in 3rd Grade
Shortly after my father was in better health, my parents left town. The police, however, didn't let up on us—they often came knocking. I temporarily stayed with my uncle, but plainclothes officers still followed me everywhere.
They followed me from my uncle's house to school and back again. They were on my tail when I went to a classmate's to do homework. They were even out in a blizzard, circling my uncle's house in a black car over and over one freezing night.
I was scared and worried all the time, and I missed my parents. I didn't want to cry in front of my family, because I didn't want them to worry, but I often cried when I was alone.
Before the school year ended, I couldn't take it anymore. I dropped out of school and went to live with my parents. Though life was hard, I was happy to be with Mom and Dad again.
A Sad Chinese New Year
Before the start of fourth grade, a practitioner took me in and I was able to register at the local elementary school where she lived. She was really nice to me, and, to this day, my entire family is grateful.
During that winter break, my parents and I went back to our hometown to visit Nainai. Before we even finished our hellos, I heard the siren, and moments later, police officers crowded into the front yard.
My parents quickly hid, and I went out to meet them. When one of the officers asked where my parents were, I didn't answer him directly. A short officer threw a fist at me, and I had to take several steps back to regain my balance.
My 80-year-old Nainai was so scared that she couldn't stop shaking. The police searched the neighbors' houses and eventually found my parents and took them away. I screamed and cried as the police car disappeared in the distance.
Later that day, my cousin gave me a ride to my other grandma's house. A black car without a license plate followed us very closely. My mom's father had just passed away a month earlier and the news of my parents' arrest saddened my grandma greatly. We sat hugging each other and cried until midnight that night.
It was Chinese New Year, and everywhere else people were celebrating the biggest holiday. But Grandma's was filled with tears and sadness. My parents spent the holidays in the detention center that year. Grandma and I worried about them and feared the worst.
My Mother Is Paralyzed
Worried that my presence would affect my uncle and cousin's future, my aunt didn't want me to register at the local school district as a member of their household. After that winter break, I went back to Nainai's.
Every day, I took the main street and walked to the edge of the village, looked into the distance, and hoped that Mom and Dad would appear. When I was in despair, I hid in the fields on the edge of the village and cried.
I could have never have imagined that Mom would be paralyzed when we were finally reunited. She was not even able to walk. What had they done to her? Why were they so cruel?
Grandma helped me take care of her. We were on a tight budget since we didn't have any income. A 10-year-old who always buys discounted vegetables at the farmer's market is sure to attract attention—the vendors all knew me. I walked three miles each way to go to school every day to save money.
Meanwhile, my father was beaten in the detention center, and his back was injured again at the same spot. When he was released, he couldn't take care of himself either. Although both my parents regained their health over time, my father has never been able to stand up straight again.
Over the following two to three years, we finally were able to be together as a family again. During that time, my parents did hard labor and temporary work to make a living. My mother worked in the fields on hot summer days, and my father did odd jobs, such as watchman and mechanic. They both used to be white collar professionals.
The Never Ending Nightmare
My uncle came to pick me up on my way home from school one day in May 2008. He told me that my parents had been arrested again. I later learned that a black car with no license plate had forced my mother onto the sidewalk until she fell, then the police jumped out and drug her into the car.
The police searched my mom and got the keys to our home. When Dad locked them out when they tried to break in, the police called for a firetruck and used the ladder to enter our home through the window. My father was taken away and our home was ransacked.
While trying to unlock the door, the police broke the key in the keyhole and I couldn't open the door to our home. I stayed at my uncle's house again. I wore my cousin's old clothes and had to borrow money from another uncle to pay for my tuition.
I missed my parents, especially at night. I made a thousand origami cranes and hoped that my wish to reunite with my family would be granted. I was in seventh grade at the time.
In the detention center, my mom's legs were injured due to torture. She couldn't take care of herself and was bedridden. She was not sent to the forced labor camp because of her injured legs and was eventually released.
My father was also refused admission to the forced labor camp because of his injured back. However, he still had to do hard labor in the detention center. He had to sort garlic for more than 10 hours a day, standing in a pool of soaking garlic.
By the time he was released, the soles of his feet were dark and the skin was peeling off. All ten of his toenails had fallen off. My father told me that the inmates assigned to monitor him hit him in the head with a shoe every day.
My father was arrested again in July 2008 and was put through a two-month-long brainwashing session. Mom and I worried so much.
Several men came knocking on our door one night in March 2009. My father climbed down the pipe from the fifth floor and injured his left foot when he jumped near the bottom. The cursing and pounding continued for a day and a night. My mom and I were stuck inside, and I had to skip school.
The most recent arrest was in January 2015, when officers from the Shengcheng Police Station picked up my father. I heard about it the next day. Knowing that the police were also after my mom, we stayed away and didn't go home.
The police ransacked our home and confiscated 9,600 yuan in cash, 20 sets of collector's special edition stamps, three laptops, a tablet, a printer, many cellphones, and all of our Falun Dafa books. Our home was left in disarray. They also took our car. They did not give us a receipt for any of the items taken. We have gone to the police station multiple times to ask for the return of our belongings but have been turned away again and again.
My father was detained for three weeks, but, with the help of a lawyer, he was eventually released on bail. He told me that, in the police station, officer Guo Hongtang hit him so hard in the head that he was nearly knocked out.