(Minghui.org) Dr. Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, member of Parliament from the Austrian Green Party, along with the Public Welfare Foundation (COMÚN) hosted an opening ceremony on March 1, 2023 for a photography exhibition at the Austrian Parliament building that addressed the issue of “Global Forced Labor.” During the ceremony, which was a panel discussion featuring invited speakers, members of the Austrian Parliament and non-governmental organizations brought up a series of forced labor issues.

Falun Dafa practitioner Ms. Zhao Lijun, a Falun Dafa practitioner, was invited as a witness to give her firsthand account of the persecution and forced labor in China.

Ms. Zhao from Shanghai, China fled to Austria about three years ago. She was once illegally detained in the Shanghai Women’s Forced Labor Camp. She gave her personal account of being incarcerated in “re-education camps.” Ms. Zhao was then sentenced to three years in Shanghai Women’s Prison. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses brutal torture methods and harsh living conditions to force Falun Dafa practitioners to give up their belief. 

Many audience members were moved by Ms. Zhao’s story. They chatted with her when the activity ended. Other Falun Dafa practitioners who were present during the activity told attendees more about the atrocities committed by the CCP. 

A reporter from a well known newspaper said, “The highlight of today’s event was Ms. Zhao’s speech. It was truly touching.” She said she plans to publish the interviews she conducted with practitioners.

Dr. Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, a member of Parliament from the Austrian Green Party (third from left) and Ms. Zhao Lijun, Falun Dafa practitioner (second from right), at the discussion. 

Below is an excerpt of Ms. Zhao’s report:

“I woke up at 5 a.m. every day at the Shanghai Women’s Forced Labor Camp. I did arduous work from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sometimes, I had to work until 12 a.m. Most of what I did was manual labor. My eyes and hands were severely injured due to the laborious work.

“Some of my labor work included: screwing on light bulbs, threading beads, putting together paper bags, envelopes, greeting cards and Christmas decorations, making key chains, putting together diodes and colorful light bulbs. Blisters formed on my hands and they bled. The hardest labor work I had to do was to string 18 light bulbs together on each wire. We were required to string 4,800 light bulbs every day. If the requirement was not met, we were beaten and tortured.

“The persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners was always done secretly in labor camps. Police officers would put away all the tools and raw materials when visitors came. They have inmates sit neatly in their cells and have us watch cultural programs on television. Falun Dafa practitioners who were being tortured by being made to stand were told to sit down. This way, no one suspected anything or asked any questions. They deliberately concealed the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in labor camps so they could deceive the outside world. 

“Our food was also terrible. We were rarely served rice and the vegetables that we ate were bland. Money sent in by our family members was confiscated so we could not purchase food or other necessities. Our day mainly consisted of either labor work or attending brainwashing classes. We also needed to also obtain permission in order to use the bathroom or take a shower. I’d often hear noises of the electric batons and heart wrenching yells and screams coming from the torture room. Those screams came from Falun Dafa practitioners who were being strictly monitored. Only evil and fear exist in that room. 

“I was then sentenced to three years and imprisoned at Shanghai Women’s Prison from 2013 to 2016. I was tortured and forced to undergo brainwashing every day. The living and sanitary conditions was extremely poor. The water coming out the faucet had worms in it. I was unable to brush my teeth. During my time in prison, four of my teeth fell out. 

“I saw many Christmas decorations and gifts after I arrived in Austria. Those decorations looked exactly like the ones I once made while I was in the labor camp. It reminded me of the dreadful experiences and suffering that I experienced. 

“Falun Dafa practitioners have been persecuted in China for over 20 years. I have personally experienced this brutal persecution. I don’t think this persecution is widely recognized and addressed in the international community. The CCP also persecutes the Uyghurs and is suppressing the people in Hong Kong. I hope more people will bravely stand up and stop the CCP’s persecution. Thank you.”

Background: What Is Falun Dafa and Why Is the CCP Persecuting It?

Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) was first introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China, in 1992. The spiritual discipline is now practiced in over 100 countries and regions worldwide. Millions of people who have embraced the teachings, which are based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and have learned the five exercises, have experienced improved health and well-being.

Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), perceived the spiritual discipline’s growing popularity as a threat to the CCP’s atheistic ideology and on July 20, 1999, he issued an order to eradicate the practice.

Under Jiang’s personal direction, the CCP established the 610 Office, an extralegal security organization with the power to override the police and judicial systems and whose sole function is to carry out the persecution of Falun Dafa.

Minghui.org has confirmed the deaths of thousands of practitioners as a result of the persecution over the past 23 years. The actual number is believed to be much higher. Countless practitioners have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith.

There is concrete evidence that the CCP sanctions the harvesting of organs from detained practitioners, who are murdered to supply China’s organ transplant industry.