On the 21st anniversary of the start of persecution by the CCP against citizens who practice Falun Gong, we share the story of a model Chinese citizen who was repeatedly jailed and tortured.
I am Yu Ming and this is my story. With no formal education or funds from family or investors, I had become a successful businessman in the Shenyang fashion industry before the age of 30. I was the best Chinese citizen that the government could hope for – a thriving business and I donated money and clothing every year whenever there was a disaster in the country. Even though I was profiled as a role model in the Chinese local press, I had not found the true meaning of life. In July 1997 I began to study and practice Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, an ancient Chinese culture practice known for meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the principals of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.
After the persecution of Falun Gong started on July 20, 1999, I appealed to the government, telling them of the personal benefits I gained in his health and business after practicing. On January 1, 2001, as I was peacefully distributing materials explaining the facts of Falun Gong and the persecution taking place at the Beijing University of Language and Culture, a police officer arrested me then proceeded to interrogate me for a whole night. I had not violated any laws. However, without abiding by any due legal procedures, the police sent me directly to the Beijing Police Department detention center.
In the detention center, the police used a special, big chain and locked my hands and feet together. Day in and day out, I could only bend my body to sit down on the floor or lie down on one side. I could not lie down straight, nor could I stand straight or walk. The police call this special torture instrument the “dog chain.” I could wash my face and go to the bathroom in the cell only with other’s assistance. This caused me extreme suffering and inconvenience. After a hearing I was sentenced to 1.5 years in a labor camp.
It was winter when I was sent to the labor camp and I only had on a layer of autumn clothing. My hands and feet were covered by bloodstains from frostbite. The police forced me to drill outdoors in formations, and I had to eat cold food outside in the yard. Within two minutes after picking up the food, my soup mixed with rice froze. The police, dressed in their thick cotton uniforms, ignored all this.
When walking I was forbidden to look straight ahead. I was forced to march in a strange pattern of small steps with my head drooping down and two hands placed on my belly. Whenever the police asked questions, I was required to placed my hands on my head or to squat down with my head between the two legs. Without any permission or eye contact, I had to reply to the leader in a loud voice. Then the police would curse, beat or shock me with an electric baton. After being abused, I was forced to say out loud, “Thank you, leader”, or I would be tortured again.
Every day I had to get up early and work until after midnight. I was forced to make pirated copies of the “Harry Potter” books in the labor camp. I also packed “sanitary chopsticks” for restaurants. The ends of the chopsticks were wrapped in a thin layer of paper, and these disposable chopsticks were regarded as “passing the sanitary standard”. If I failed to finish my quota I would be beaten by the police and inmates. At night I had to stand in the yard without sleep. The compound was swarming with fleas and I couldn’t shower for a long time.
Over the next 12 years I was released twice and escaped once. During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, I organized a successful escape for myself and three other prisoners of conscience. The Chinese authorities soon captured me and sent me back to prison. I was released for the final time after serving four years of a 10 year sentence. Throughout all my time in prison I endured gruesome tortures. I went on hunger strikes to protest the treatment and that I other Falun Gong prisoners endured. At one point my weight dropped to 60 pounds.
My last release was in 2017 and it was then that I committed myself to investigating organ harvesting. Multiple times during my time in prison, Chinese officials sent doctors to jail to take my blood and bone marrow. Also, people I knew in jail disappeared and I did not know where they went. I was puzzled because we were tortured in prison and no one cared about our health, however prison officials sent doctors to take our blood work and bone marrow.
During 2018 I posed as a patient in need of a transplant, secretly recording dozens of doctors at hospitals. They all said that they could get me a perfect match. I could specify age group, etc. and wait time with price dependent on these issues. After one year, I had completed collecting photos and recordings that could serve as evidence of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners. I was ready to leave China. My wife and two children had previously traveled to the United States under the pretense of looking at schools. They were granted asylum and later obtained legal status.
It took me several days traveling by foot, bus and boat to reach Burma illegally and then Thailand where I went to the U.S. Embassy seeking asylum. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Chris Smith wrote to the Chinese Ambassador on my behalf. Within 30 days of arriving at the US Embassy in Thailand I was able to fly to San Francisco in January 2019.
July 20, 2020 is the 21st anniversary of the inception of persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in mainland China. As I and others attempt to shed light on what is happening in China by sharing our stories, the Chinese Communist Party continues their information war in the United States. They manipulate large media companies from reporting on human rights abuses in China.
I want the American people to know that the Chinese Communist Party is not only persecuting Falun Gong, but also Christians and Uyghurs. Recently, the U.S. Congress has passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020. The legislation, which has been signed into law, condemns the Chinese Communist Party for the detention centers and recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in the region.
Even though we are in the U.S., my wife and I are still tracked by the Chinese. However, after everything I have been through, I am not scared. God is with me.