When Ms. Zhu Luoxin fled China to Finland in 2012, she was relieved that she could finally start a new life and reunite with her husband after being separated for eleven years.
Before arriving in Finland, she had served eight years in prison in China for upholding her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. While in prison, she suffered unspeakable torture and barely survived. Even after she was released, the police kept coming around to harass her, leaving her living in fear every day.
When Ms. Zhu was invited to speak at a rally in Copenhagen attended by Falun Gong practitioners from 27 European countries and representatives from human rights organizations on July 20, 2013, calling for an end to the persecution, her heart was filled with emotion.
“As a Falun Gong practitioner, I am very lucky to be standing here today. But there are millions of practitioners in China, who have either had their families broken up or are experiencing brutal torture in prison, who do not have an opportunity to speak freely. So I want to appeal on their behalf, asking you to do everything you can to help immediately stop this darkest persecution in human history,” Ms. Zhu said.
|Ms. Zhu Luoxin (left) talks to people about Falun Gong in an event in Finland.|
Before Ms. Zhu was arrested for the first time, on December 3, 2002, the Guangzhou Police Department had posted a 100,000-yuan reward for people to report her whereabouts. She was later sentenced and held in prison until 2009. She spent two years and ten months in solitary confinement and was subjected to intensive brainwashing, in the Chinese regime's efforts to force her to renounce her belief. She was forbidden by prison guards to contact anyone or receive any information from outside the prison. The prolonged torture left her on the verge of death. She was once pinned to the floor of her cell with 30- to 40-pound shackles for 14 days and could not walk when they were removed.
|Torture illustration: Locked to metal rings on the ground|
With the help of many people outside of China, Ms. Zhu flew to Helsinki, Finland on January 26, 2012, to reunite with her husband, Mr. Zhu Zhiping, also a Falun Gong practitioner, whom she hadn’t seen for 11 years.
On January 27, 2021, the annual international Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ms. Zhu expressed her gratitude to the Finnish government: “I appreciate very much the Finish government for its international humanitarian aid which gave me the opportunity to speak in a free country about the inhuman, physical and mental torture I suffered in China for not renouncing my faith. I am even more grateful that I had the chance 26 years ago to listen to Master Li Hongzhi's lectures, as since then, the seed of goodness has been planted in my soul and I have walked into a life full of hope.”
Diagnosed with Terminal Illness at the Age of 29
In 1994, Ms. Zhu was 29 years old and working in Hong Kong. One day she felt a strange painful itch on her face and there were a few fresh red spots. Within two months the discoloration spread rapidly over her body. Wherever she scratched herself, blisters immediately appeared on her skin. Eventually, she had dark red and swollen skin all over her body that was itchy and unbearably tingling. She went to see a Chinese traditional medicine doctor and a Western doctor who both diagnosed her disease as lupus erythematosus.
At that time, she had to spend over 100 Hong Kong dollars a day on medication. Her salary barely covered the cost. But within just two hours of applying the medication, the itch started again and it was even worse than before. When she was 30, only her hands and the skin below her knees was normal. She was unable to work in the later stages of her disease. Six months later the doctor advised her to “go home and live out the rest of her life” because her body had lost its immunity and there was nothing more they could do.
It was a time of waiting for death at home. From time to time, she went to see folk doctors and try special prescriptions or other treatments. “I had just lost my mother, and I was terminally ill. Life is really unpredictable. Being human is really bitter. I hoped to have a chance to practice cultivation which could help me get out of [the cycle of] life and death,” she recalled.
Fully Recovered After Practicing Falun Gong
In mid-December 1994, Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, held the last series of lectures in China at the Guangzhou City Gymnasium in Guangdong Province. The Guangzhou Human Body Research Society hosted the event and about six thousand people from all over China attended the classes.
Ms. Zhu happened to be in Guangzhou City at that time. One of her friends bought two tickets and invited her to attend, saying that it was Qigong of the Buddha School, which was very good, and tickets were hard to get.
Ms. Zhu thought that since her life was in such a state, it wouldn't hurt to listen to the lectures. But, she said, “I didn't expect that incredible things would happen."
“While I was in the class, I had no pain or itching. And after the fifth class when I was changing at home, I inadvertently found that my skin was as smooth as healthy skin and was not itchy at all. My disease was cured without any treatment! I knew that it was Master Li who had saved my life. At that moment I silently said in my heart: 'Thank you, Master!'”
She returned to work and was able to live a normal life like anyone else. After she recovered, she was promoted to the assistant to the general manager for the Chinese distributor of Nintendo Japan. She was always smiling, and did her job properly and thoughtfully.
Whole Family Persecuted for Upholding Their Faith
Ms. Zhu is a warmhearted and upstanding person. She volunteered to be a coordinator for the Falun Gong practice site in Liwan District, Guangzhou City, where she met her future husband, Mr. Wu Zhiping, in January 1996.
After the Chinese Communist Party launched the persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, however, the couple and Mr. Wu's mother, brother, sister-in-law, and aunt all suffered tremendously for their faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhu was sentenced to 10 years in prison; Mr. Wu Zhiping was sent to a forced labor camp for two years; his brother Mr. Wu Zhijun was sentenced to 8 years; his sister-in-law Ms. Li Peizhen was sent to a forced labor camp for two years; his aunt Ms. Wu Yuyun was poisoned while in detention and suffered tremendously, dying in September 2004 shortly after being released from prison at the age of 65. His mother, Ms. Wu Yuxian, was sentenced to 7 years and died in February 2006 shortly after being released from prison.
Appealing for Falun Gong, Exposing the Persecution
At the beginning of the persecution, Ms. Zhu and many other practitioners thought that the government simply had a misunderstanding about Falun Gong, and went to the petition office to clarify the facts about the practice. The personnel there completely ignored their legal petition, but also arrested them. Soon Ms. Zhu realized that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) actually knew what Falun Gong is but was determined to eradicate the practice from China. She thought, “I have a responsibility to let everyone know the truth.”
At that time, Ms. Zhu had been fired from her workplace for upholding her faith. She said, “My life was given by Falun Gong and I have benefited so much from it. Now our Master is being wronged, I must speak up for Master in all conscience. Falun Gong would have helped more people to be good people. Now the government and media are deceiving people and describing good things as bad and the whole society is going in the opposite direction. I have an obligation and responsibility to tell the truth.”
Then Ms. Zhu began downloading materials from Minghui.org and printed them out for distribution to the public.
One day at the end of May 2001, Ms. Zhu's husband Mr. Wu went out to deliver some materials to other practitioners but never came home. By the next morning, Ms. Zhu realized that something was wrong. She packed some belongings and left home before dawn to avoid possible arrest. She recalled, “I was worried all night and hoped he would suddenly appear. I tried to calm myself down. That night was unbelievably long.”
Initially, she thought things would be alright in a few days. She never expected that it would be 11 years before she saw her husband again.
The 100,000-yuan Reward for Her Whereabouts
In order to arrest Ms. Zhu, the Guangzhou Police Department posted a notice offering a reward of 100,000 yuan for people to report her whereabouts. Ms. Zhu thought about it carefully and affirmed that seeking justice for Falun Gong was not “participating in politics” as the CCP was accusing practitioners of doing: “People have the right to know the facts, then make their own judgment. At the very least, people should be given the opportunity to know what Falun Gong is. Whether that person wants to practice Falun Gong or not, at least he or she will want to be a good person.”
At noon on December 3, 2001, when Ms. Zhu and two other practitioners were in a cab, the police started to follow them. They were arrested across the street from Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The police didn't tell her family where she was being held nor allow them to visit her.
Ms. Zhu was detained in an interrogation room in the Baiyun Detention Center, where the walls were covered with sound-absorbing padding. The police handcuffed her to a metal chair and took turns interrogating her around the clock. They tried to force her to provide information about other Falun Gong practitioners. When she refused to comply, they didn’t allow her to use the restroom.
Ms. Zhu recalled, “I strongly believed that I was innocent. There was no justification for insulting me and mistreating me in this way. I started a hunger strike to protest the torture.” When the policemen saw that she wasn't eating or drinking, they deliberately ate in front of her to increase her mental suffering.
The toughest part was at night when she was still handcuffed to the metal chair and unable to sleep. After several days of interrogation, she was so sleepy that she couldn't open her eyes. The police took turns watching her, pushing her, and tapping her whenever she closed her eyes. She was in terrible pain. She had some bleeding under the skin, as well as frequent headaches and dizziness.
By three or four o'clock in the morning, Ms. Zhu's consciousness was increasingly blurred. The policemen hit her hard on her handcuffed hands and feet, lowered her head, and demanded, “Who did you contact? Where did you send the materials? Just tell us, and you won't suffer.”
Fourteen days into her hunger strike, Ms. Zhu was dying and the police couldn't get any information from her. They decided to force-feed Ms. Zhu, even though there had been many cases of practitioners dying as a result of forced-feeding.
That day, Ms. Zhu sat on the metal chair barely conscious. She heard policemen going out. A short while later, she heard a scattering of footsteps. Two or three prisoners picked her up and dragged her into the area where inmates took showers. They pushed her down to the ground. One person held her head down and covered her eyes. Then she felt a tube being plunged into her nose and into her stomach. She flinched in pain. Before she could react, they poured a bucket of paste into the tube.
|Torture illustration: force-feeding|
At the beginning Ms. Zhu struggled a few times. Soon her whole body cramped and she shook involuntarily. Her nose and stomach were burning. After a while she heard a person say, “It's almost time.” The tube was pulled out violently. Ms. Zhu quivered in pain, her body twitching involuntarily. The inmates and policemen were laughing, “Let's see how long you can endure. We won't let you die. We'll torture you slowly.”
They went away and left Ms. Zhu lying on the concrete floor. She couldn't move and her tears fell. A few hours later, several people came and dragged her into the jail cell. “All of my organs had lasting pain for a few days. My whole body hurt so much that I couldn't speak at all. My brain was completely empty and I was wondering why I was being treated like this.”
Since that experience, Ms. Zhu was sustained by the will to live. “I believe that Falun Gong is innocent and that what Master's teaching is right. I decided that I must get out of there alive.”
Restrained to the Floor with Heavy Shackles
While she was in the detention center, the guards used vicious torture to try to make her give information about her fellow practitioner and to renounce her belief. Ms. Zhu repeatedly recalled Master Li Hongzhi's teachings and recalled her own experience in doing the practice. She firmly believed that there was nothing wrong with following Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
In order to break her will, the guard shackled her to the concrete floor with 30-40-pound shackles. She couldn't remember how many days she was left there without moving, the heavy chains pressing into her skin. She could only move the chain a little bit to ease the pain.
The entire surface of her feet swelled up. The pain and numbness spread from her ankles to her knees and thighs, and from skin to bone. She couldn't help trembling. There was no language to describe the unbearable pain.
|Torture illustration: Ankle shackles|
Even more unbearable was the humiliation she suffered. “I had to urinate in front of dozens of inmates. The guards behind the monitor saw everything clearly. I grew up in a well-off family. I had been working in a foreign company after I graduated, and I had never experienced this kind of humiliation. The CCP just wanted me to feel ashamed every second.”
On the fifteenth day, a male prisoner came to unlock her and was stunned to see the shackles. “How can you bear this?” he asked. The iron ring had cut deep into her flesh and the skin was broken. Her calves were swollen as thick as her thighs. Ms. Zhu could tell that the prisoner had some sympathy toward her.
He lowered his voice and said, “You must try to walk, even though it is hard. Otherwise your legs will be ruined.” She shook her head, indicating that she couldn't. He said, “It's too cruel. The death row inmate across the hall wear shackles but they are much lighter and it's no problem to walk... How could they be so cruel to Falun Gong practitioners?”
After the shackles were removed, Ms. Zhu couldn't walk. She moved her feet slowly, but every inch of movement made her leg shake uncontrollably. She trembled, holding onto the wall to move, step by step. She told herself, “I must get out of here alive. I can't die. Life can't be like this. Master saved me from incurable disease, and I will survive. I did nothing wrong. People are supposed to have faith.”
“That is the spirit that supported me during those dark days,” she recalled.
Maintaining Goodness in Her Heart
After two years of torture, Ms. Zhu still maintained that she'd done nothing wrong in practicing Falun Gong.
The guards put her into a small room, 20-30 square feet. When others were asleep, the guards forced Ms. Zhu to watch videos slandering Falun Gong and Master Li Hongzhi. The volume was turned up to the maximum. If she closed her eyes, the person assigned to watch her would slap her face. At that time Ms. Zhu held one thought, “The content of these videos is slanderous falsifications, and I will not listen or watch. Master planted the seed of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance in my heart and I can't let them uproot it from my heart.”
Under the long-term destructive persecution, her body became weaker and weaker, especially her hearing. There was just a constant buzzing in her ears and she often had headaches and dizziness. She could only lie on the bed for 3 or 4 hours a day, but she kept hearing the high-decibel noise of the video. She couldn't sleep. All she could do was to lie down with her eyes closed and try to relax.
In order to force Ms. Zhu to compromise, the guard took turns torturing and brainwashing her, each round lasting 14 days. They tried to tamper with her memories of the good parts of her life with constant repetition of lies. Ms. Zhu carefully guarded the bits and pieces of her memories of the past. To prevent herself from ever believing the lies, she constantly recalled over and over again the ups and downs of her life: the sudden loss of her mother, attending the Falun Gong lectures in person and how her incurable disease was healed by Falun Gong, etc.
Encouragement from Her Father
Since Ms. Zhu's arrest in 2001, she had endured ongoing physical and mental tortures, but she never gave up her faith. Because she never gave in, the police never allowed her family to visit her. On April 25, 2003, she was transferred to Guangdong Province Women's Prison for brainwashing in solitary confinement. At the end of 2004, unexpectedly, the guards allowed Ms. Zhu to meet with her 70-year-old father.
That day, she was taken into a room. Suddenly the door was opened and her father was pushed in in a wheelchair. He was very weak. As soon as he saw his daughter, his tears fell. “My brain was totally blank. My father kept crying and my heart was broken. Many scenes from the past came back to my mind.”
Mr. Zhu's father had a doctor's appointment that day for his diabetes and high blood pressure. His condition was serious, but 610 Office agents dragged him to the prison anyway. Only many years later after Ms. Zhu was released, did she learn that the purpose of the 610 Office arranging their meeting was to pressure her father to persuade her into giving up her faith.
Ms. Zhu recalled, “My Dad worked in Macau so that he could earn enough to support my college education. He knew I'd gotten skin cancer and my family almost spent every penny on treatments for me. He was very relieved to know that I'd recovered after practicing Falun Gong. He often told me that it is not easy to meet a good person in one's life and that we should always remember those who have helped us, and think of the source and return the favor. He told me that Master Li Hongzhi saved my life. I should be a good person and cherish life.”
In the reception room, Ms. Zhu cried hard. She should have been taking good care of her father, however, she was locked up in prison because of being steadfast in her faith and speaking the truth. She felt so guilty that her father had to be brought to the prison despite his age. She lowered her head and tears poured down her face.
When she looked up at her father, she froze a little. “I saw my father looking at me with encouragement in his eyes. I could feel him encouraging me to live.” At that moment the person standing next to her father urged him, “Say it! Say it quickly!” Her father looked at that person, shook his head, and said nothing. He looked sad and was quickly wheeled away.
Two Years and Ten Months' Brainwashing
Little did Ms. Zhu know while in prison that her husband was trying to support her as she struggled to hold on and resist the brainwashing. He wrote many letters encouraging her to be strong and not to give up. But unfortunately she never received any of them.
By early 2007, Ms. Zhu had been held in solitary confinement for two years and ten months and subjected to intensive brainwashing. The guards denied her access to anyone or any outside information. Sometimes they instructed drug addicts to read fabricated slanderous materials aloud to her. As they were aware that her hearing had been damaged, they shouted it into her ears. Then her eyesight became poor also. She often experienced rapid heartbeat, cold sweats and nightmares. But nothing could sway her faith.
Ms. Zhu was physically and mentally exhausted from the long-term torture. But she often recalled the scene of listening to Master Li's lectures in person in 1994, and she recalled the happiness of regaining her life. During the most difficult days, Ms. Zhu said to herself, “I personally experienced the miracle. Master saved my life so that I could become a morally upright person.
“Life will not always be smooth. Whenever one encounters hardships one must not forget the principles of being human. I often reminded myself and also pleaded in my mind for Master's help. Gradually, my willpower grew stronger and my heart was filled with hope.”
Hope for the Future
On this year's international Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ms. Zhu delivered a message: “In the past 22 years, the CCP has been relentlessly persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and other people of faith, even to the point of harvesting their organs while they are alive. We call on more people around the world to help end the cruel persecution immediately. The CCP should be brought to justice and punished severely.”
|Ms. Zhu and her husband|
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