Surviving Nine Brutal Years in Prison for My Faith
(Minghui.org) In March 2001, when I was 25 years old, I was arrested and sent to the Haidian District Detention Center in Beijing. I was able to escape from China one year ago. Many practitioners have asked me how I survived nine years in prison. It was not easy and I wouldn’t have been able to overcome the tribulations if it wasn’t for Master’s protection and guidance.
Chinese people my age have all been deeply brainwashed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Beginning in kindergarten, our education is grounded in Party culture and atheism. The ones who have the chance to go to college are polluted the most, because they have to memorize all sorts of CCP ideology and propaganda to pass the college exams. I was one of them. I went to Qinghua University, one of the best universities in China. My mind was filled with the Party’s evil theories, so much so that I felt a thick barrier separated me from the Fa.
This feeling lasted for a long time after I was arrested. In the detention center, I hoped that I had a deep enough understanding and belief in the Fa, but I often couldn’t reach that realm; it really pained my heart. When I clarified the truth to the detention center guards, I often asked myself what cultivation was and why I should believe in the Fa. I was able to keep a clear mind for about three weeks, and then got confused for about a week after that. This cycle repeated for four years. The process was like peeling an onion—bad thoughts were eliminated and then there was another layer that was revealed.
I was the only practitioner in the detention center. After being jailed there for 20 days, I felt my righteous thoughts get weaker and weaker. I thought that I could not hold on any longer, but then an unexpected thing happened.
One day, an inmate who didn’t have much education, all of sudden said, “Let me tell you guys a story. There is a professional swimmer in the United States. Two years after she successfully crossed the English Channel, she decided to try to swim from an island near California to the American mainland. Soon after she began, it got foggy and she could not see the boat that was supposed to protect her but she continued. Fifteen hours later, she was exhausted and got very cold. She felt that she could not swim any further. But she persistently went on for another 30 minutes. Finally she fired the signal for help. The boat found her, and she learned that she was only one mile away from the coast.”
The inmate concluded, “So, we must be persistent, because success might be just one step away.” I almost cried. Righteous thoughts filled my exhausted heart. I knew that Master used the inmate to give me a hint.
A few days later, I was transferred to the notorious Beijing First Detention Center, which is for felons. Many of my fellow Qinghua University practitioners had been jailed there. The environment in this center was a little better than the previous one because many practitioners who had been imprisoned there had clarified the truth to the guards. The inmates trusted me and let me be in charge of accounting, which afforded me access to pen and paper. The practitioners and I wrote out Master’s poems and short articles that we had memorized. We passed them around and showed them to some inmates. Newly arrested practitioners who memorized poems and articles that were published after our detainment also wrote those down so that we had a chance to study them.
During the course of cultivation, there are often interesting things that happen. One morning in December 2001, part of a famous Chinese poem suddenly appeared in my mind when I woke up: “While my light boat skims past thousands of crags, on either shore the gibbons’ chatter sounds without pause.” Originally the part about the chatter was the first half of the sentence – what appeared in my mind was a wrong way around version of the original. I knew it was a hint from Master. Two years later, I had a chance to read Master’s article, “Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia.” The first thing Master said in this teaching was that line of the poem in the original order, “On either shore the gibbons' chatter sounds without pause, while my light boat skims past thousands of crags.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. II) Many fellow practitioners were amazed by this experience.
In June 2003, I was transferred to Huazi Prison in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province. The environment and food were horrible. Aside from two meals a week, we were just fed half-cooked corn bread. The soup was just some salty water with a few pieces of leaves. In the summer, every meal was boiled zucchini. Even now, I feel nauseous when I see zucchini.
Every practitioner jailed there was watched by two inmates. None of the practitioners were allowed to talk to each other. We intensively clarified the truth to the inmates who watched us; after a while they weren’t as harsh towards us. Practitioners were able to recite the Fa for each other or briefly share understandings. When some practitioners obtained Master’s new articles, we set up a time and met somewhere to pass out the articles secretly. We studied the Fa in bed. Since the lights in the hallways were always on, we held the paper under the blanket and studied the Fa with the weak light, while trying to keep it secret from the guard on the night shift.
After one practitioner finished an article, he passed it to another. It took a long time for all of us to finish one article but we all knew that we must study the Fa to enhance our righteous thoughts in such an evil environment. I memorized Hong Yin II during that period. I told myself that after being released, I would cherish the time to study the Fa every day and not wait until tribulations come.
Practitioners jailed in Huazi Prison were forced to do heavy labor, watch pornographic videos and things from other religions, and were tortured by being forced to sit on small stools for a long time. In the beginning of 2002, seven practitioners started a hunger strike protesting the persecution, which lasted for six months. A guard, whose nickname was Big Head, force-fed practitioners. He spat in the cereal and used dirty water to wash the cereal bowls. One guard named Li Chengxin claimed that he would pour urine and feces in the cereal.
In June 2004, the prison started a new round of persecution. They tried to transform all the imprisoned practitioners in 100 days. They called it the “100-day action.” During this round of persecution, practitioners Lian Pinghe and Fan Xuejun died from torture.
One morning in September 2004, a few inmates moved furniture into a small room and imprisoned me there. A guard told me, “Sign the documents and renounce Falun Gong. If you don’t sign them, what is waiting for you is beyond your imagination.” I was calm and said, “I am not afraid and I will not give up my belief. Nothing will happen to me.” An hour later, a miracle happened. I was sent back to my cell and they moved the furniture back to where they got it from. It ended just like that.
Two hours later, an inmate named Yang Yinan (the former deputy mayor of Shenyang City), who was assigned to watch me, told me that he attended a meeting with a group of prison leaders. They were all talking about me and decided to stop persecuting me for the time being.
Yang said to me, “Do you know I tried my best to help you at the meeting? I told them that you have sacrificed your education, career, family, and love for your belief. I asked them, ‘What kind of results do you guys expect if you force him to give up his belief? What good does a bad result do for you guys?’”
He then said to me, “Do you know why I tried so hard to help you? I was sick one morning, coughing and not able to breathe. Nobody, including those who had been jailed here with me for a long time, paid any attention to me. You were a newcomer, yet you helped me to get up and walk around and poured hot water for me. Maybe you don’t remember this, but I do.”
The prison later exerted pressure on my family. They asked my family to convince me to quit cultivation in a video made by the prison. They also made a video of my mother who was hospitalized in Shenyang. They told her that I would transform soon and that my sentence would be reduced. My mother thought it was true, and asked me in the video to quit cultivation as soon as possible. Before playing the video to me, they told me that my mother was taking her final breaths, and if I renounced Falun Gong they would allow me to see her before she passed away.
In Chinese prisons, real criminals are allowed to visit their dying parents but I, a person who just tries to stay true to my belief and dignity, was not. The doctors said that my mother would have lived for another two or three years, but she passed away without seeing her son due to the tremendous mental pressure. When I was informed, I was sad and shocked. The night she passed away I had a lucid dream where a practitioner named Chang Wanxiang, who was jailed in the same prison as me, pointed to the sky and asked me what I saw. I saw a galaxy that radiated a gentle and comforting message to me. Shortly after, that galaxy exploded like fireworks.
From 2003 to 2006, practitioners in Huazi Prison held many hunger strikes and demanded that they be unconditionally released and respected for upholding their dignity. In 2005 and 2006, I also participated in two hunger strikes; one lasted 99 days and the other 140 days. Under the guards’ orders, the inmates who force-fed us put dirty things in our cereal and put the cereal bowls next to urinals. The guards carried and dragged us to their office for force-feeding.
At the beginning of 2007, due to all the practitioners’ efforts, our cultivation state and environment dramatically changed. We refused to collaborate with the guards, do heavy labor, sit on a small stool or be body-searched. One practitioner’s family member brought him some truth-clarification materials while visiting him, so we passed them to the inmates. Another practitioner brought e-books of Master’s articles to the prison.
One practitioner read the teaching, “All of you are already aware of the principle of mutual-generation and mutual-inhibition. If you are not afraid, the factor that would make you afraid will cease to exist. This is not to be self-imposed, but is achieved by truly and calmly letting go of it.” (“Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s),” Essentials for Further Advancement II) So this practitioner started to transcribe the articles from the e-book on paper and passed them along to other practitioners. Our xinxing improved and everybody started to transcribe the Fa day and night. One day, the guards found the papers in our cell and took them away. A practitioner told me that he would start a hunger strike to protest and I decided to join him. A few hours later, the guards returned the papers to us.
We could tell that the evil in other dimensions around Huazi Prison was disintegrated. We sent forth righteous thoughts every day at 6 and 12, AM and PM. The guards even pretended they didn’t see us doing the hand positions for sending righteous thoughts. The inmates assigned to watch us got replaced with new ones every two weeks because the prison was afraid that we would convince them to cultivate. But the good thing was that we had chances to talk to almost all the inmates in the prison and clarify the truth to them.
However, the provincial government decided to separate the practitioners imprisoned in Huazi Prison and transferred us to three prisons. A dozen of us were sent to Nanguanling Prison in Dalian City, including three who were later tortured to death: Wang Baojin, Bai Heguo, and Liu Quan. A practitioner named Ren and I were sent to the 16th subdivision.
When we first got there, Ren shouted, “Falun Dafa is good. Falun Dafa practitioners are innocent.” He was then put in a cell that was closely monitored. I started a hunger strike to protest, so the prison decided to force-feed me. They dragged me from the third floor to the first floor, then another 1,000 feet along the ground to a cell. It was wintertime and the skin on my feet and legs bled. I was so sad and thought, “We just rectified the environment in Huazi Prison. Now we are facing another harsh environment.”
I thought about committing suicide to protest. Coincidentally, I found a blade in a crack on the wall. When I decided to go ahead with the act, a person in yellow Buddhist clothes showed up in front me and said, “Is this what I have taught you? How can you take this approach?” He repeated it a few times. I realized that it was a warning from Master so I gave up this incorrect thought.
A few months later, since two practitioners and I refused to do slave labor, we were sent to a cell that was under close surveillance. The cells were small, measuring six by six feet. We were forced to sleep with our heads next to the toilet as an insult. The wall was covered with a plastic sheet, which prevented inmates from killing themselves by smashing their heads against the wall. There were a few steel rings installed on the wall for locking inmates up.
The guards put me in handcuffs and shackles. One end of the handcuff went through the foot lock and was locked to the ring on the wall so that my body had to bend over. I was locked in this painful position for three days and only got released while eating or using the bathroom. Three days later, my left hand was still locked on the wall, although I didn’t have to bend my body. Even during sleep, one hand was locked to the wall. This torture lasted four months.
In March 2008, I was transferred to a different cell. My hands and feet were locked the whole time. I had to sit on the ground day in and day out. In April, I held a hunger strike for four days, requesting the right to do the Falun Gong exercises. Eventually they let me and I did the exercises every morning and at noontime.
In the cell, I usually studied the Fa or sent forth righteous thoughts. But sometimes I thought about other things and my thoughts went awry. When I developed incorrect thoughts, a drop of water would leak out from the faucet and make a sound. When my thoughts were more off the wall, the sound would be really loud. No water accumulated under the faucet, but the sound was loud. I realized that it was a warning from Master to not have incorrect thoughts.
In 2009, I was transferred back to a normal cell. When I had incorrect thoughts, the steel bars on the window would make a sound, reminding me to correct myself. But nobody had touched the bars. I asked the other inmates, and they didn’t hear anything.
In August, a murderer named Li Lin was assigned to watch me. He was an evil guy and gave the guards suggestions on how to torture me. He didn’t allow me to do the exercises, took away my food, and constantly cursed and insulted me. So from August to November, I went on another hunger strike. The guards asked a few inmates to drag me 1,500 feet along the ground to a cell for force-feeding. My legs were injured from the dragging. They put large amounts of salt in the cereal, which made me throw up and have diarrhea.
From the end of November to the beginning of December, I held another hunger strike, demanding the right to do the exercises. This time the persecution was rampant. They locked my hand to the wall with my body bent over. They’d only unlock one handcuff and one foot lock when I was sleeping so that I could stretch straight, but the other hand and the other foot were still locked on the wall.
During the force-feeding, two guards shocked me with electric batons. The electric batons made loud noises on my feet, legs, and hands. I tried my best not to make a sound. The guards even thought the batons were not working. The room was quiet. The only sound that could be heard was the baton shocking my body. Even the inmates were scared.
They force-fed me highly concentrated salt water and didn’t allow me to throw up. If I did, they’d pour more salt water down my throat. On the second day, they shocked me with an electric baton while force-feeding me again. Seven days later, due to my strong protests, they stopped feeding me with concentrated salt water.
By then, I was very sick due to the torture. I had a high fever and my lung was in bad shape from the fever. I threw up whatever I drank or ate. On the fourth day, they called my father. He helped me to eat half an apple; that was the only thing I had during that time. The guards sent me to a prison clinic where I went into a coma; then they sent me to the emergency room at the city hospital.
I was unconscious and could not control my bowels, but the guards still locked one of my hands to the bed until the doctors and nurses scolded them. The guards believed that I was going to die soon and didn’t want to take responsibility, so they called my father and asked him to take care of me. My father, sister, and a few cousins of mine came to the hospital.
Later my father told me that I became very frail at that time and everybody thought I was on the verge of death. After two days of emergency treatments, I regained consciousness but over the next seven days my mind was not clear. I thought that I was still studying at Qinghua University and that my mother sent me to the university hospital. My mind didn’t recover until I was released from the hospital.
The practitioners I encountered behind bars and prison walls were amazing. After I was hospitalized, they immediately posted the details of my persecution on websites. Since nobody knew what was going on, practitioners thought that I was sent to the hospital because my throat was broken from force-feeding.
Back at the prison, the guards agreed that I no longer needed to do slave labor. Also, I had the chance to do the exercises every day. I took all opportunities to clarify the truth to the inmates. Some people easily accepted my words, so I told them more high-level principles of the Fa. One day in an empty dining hall, I told an inmate how precious the chance to cultivate is. I pointed at a plant in the hall and said, “Look at that tree. It doesn’t have a human body, so it cannot cultivate. How sad.” To our surprise, the tree bent over towards us and kept waving to us as if it heard my words. There was nobody around nor any breeze. That inmate was amazed and said, “Everything has a soul. What you said is true!”
During the last year in Nanguanling Prison, I wasn’t persecuted as severely but the head of the guards often harassed me and looked for excuses to put me in the cell that was monitored the most. When I was put there, I went on hunger strike and two days later they let me go back to the normal cell. They didn’t dare to force-feed me again.
During the whole time I was in prison, I tried my best to maintain my dignity as a Dafa cultivator. I refused to take orders from the guards and refused to do slave labor. On the day I was released, I was asked to sign a document at the prison gate. I refused because I was innocent. The guard at the gate said, “Signing it does not mean that you are guilty. You cannot leave without signing it. This is the rule.” I replied, “Fine. I will go back to the cell then.” The guard laughed and let me go.
I encountered 55 practitioners who were jailed in Huazi and Nanguanling Prisons. Two died in Huazi, and three died in Nanguanling from torture. At least two more practitioners passed away right after they were released, and five were rescued after being sent to the emergency room. The persecution was brutal.
I was able to survive the prisons due to Master’s protection and guidance. Without Master, I would have crashed in the first month in prison. I deeply thank Master for his salvation.