Huang Guohua and his four-year-old daughter Huang Ying still can't believe they were fortunate enough to make it to the paradise of New Zealand, following the nightmare they were put through in China where Mr Huang's wife was tortured to death in a Chinese prison for practicing Falun Gong while three months pregnant.
On a sunny afternoon in an East Auckland park, Mr Huang calmly tells his story of persecution, tragedy and heartbreak at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as the sound of hope for the future carries over from the children little Ying plays with in the playground.
“The Chinese Communist Party has caused us to lose a mother and a wife and truly broken our hearts. We can never forget these things, they are deeply ingrained in our hearts forever,” said Mr Huang of his tragic ordeals.
Mr Huang and his wife, Luo Zhixiang, met in 1999, fell in love, and married in early 2000. Both practiced Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese cultivation system based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.
In July 1999, ex CCP leader Jiang Zemin launched a genocide campaign against Falun Gong in China, decreeing that “no means are too excessive” in the effort to eradicate the practice that had become so popular he saw it as a threat to the legacy of himself and the communist regime.
Mr Huang and Luo were but two among millions of peaceful protesters throughout China appealing to the CCP to allow Falun Gong to be practiced.
Both were arrested and detained and Ms. Luo fired from her job.
In October 2000, Mr Huang was arrested for passing out fliers exposing the persecution and was savagely beaten. One hundred and thirty five days of detention followed, after which he was sentenced to two years of forced labour.
Ms Luo, already pregnant by that time, gave birth to Huang Ying on May 18, 2001, giving her the nickname “Kaixin,” meaning “Joy”.
The local “610 Office” (an extra-judicial police force set up expressly to persecute Falun Gong practitioners), hounded and threatened Luo to the point where she had to leave Kaixin with Huang's mother and leave home in order to avoid the persecution.
Mr Huang was released on December 30, 2001, and found his wife five months later—he had been separated from her for most of their marriage and still had not seen his 1-year-old daughter.
However, their life together as a family was short-lived, as the police tracked them down in November 2002, took them away, and locked them in iron cages.
Ms. Luo was three months pregnant with their second child at the time. Both went on hunger strikes to protest their ill treatment and despotic detention, and were subjected to cruel force-feeding methods.
On November 28, 2002 the police told Mr Huang that because his wife was pregnant, she would be released. He never saw her alive again.
Ms Luo, instead of being released, was subject to the most horrendous torture at the hands of the communist regime, to the point where she was murdered along with her unborn child.
Mr Huang was forced to endure a further year in the detention centre, only being released in December 2003. He did not learn of his wife's death until four months after she had been killed.
In July 2004, in order to escape further persecution, Mr Huang jumped the border to Thailand, where he obtained UN refugee status. Once again he had to leave his daughter behind, only being reunited a year later after the persistent efforts of Chinese practitioners who brought Kaixin to Thailand.
However, freedom still was not realised for the pair, as the CCP soon managed to extend it's reach into Thailand. In December last year, while protesting in front of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, Mr Huang, Kaixin, and six fellow Falun Gong practitioners were arrested and illegally detained at the Thai Immigration Detention Centre. Their protest had been against the savage rape of two female Falun Gong practitioners by a police officer in a Chinese prison.
Thai police had arrested the eight practitioners following intense pressure from the Chinese consulate.
Mr Huang said that the Thai police knew of the persecution Falun Gong practitioners faced in China, that the police felt compassion for them, and the relationship between the protesters and police at the centre was very good. He said the police didn't want to arrest them, but had to follow orders and were forced to do so as a result of the heavy pressure exerted by the CCP.
When asked why he thought the Thai government allowed the CCP to pressure them like that, Huang replied, “I think this kind of country focuses on business and money, profit and economy, and forgets about morals and their obligation to the people and human rights.”
He believes the CCP's acts of torture and genocide are worse than Nazi Germany, and Thailand is not the only country to have helped the CCP do evil deeds because of money and economic benefits. Similar cases have been reported in Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia.
After being detained for about three weeks, the Thai government asked Mr Huang and Kaixin to leave Thailand within one week. Mr Huang didn't have anywhere to go, and it looked as if he was about to be deported back to China.
The NZ Immigration Service (NZIS) heard of the dangerous situation Mr Huang and Kaixin's lives were in, and took measures to secure them a safe passage to New Zealand to ensure their safety.
This truly moved Mr Huang, who expressed how grateful he was to New Zealand for providing them with the freedom they had sought after for so long.
When asked why he still practices Falun Gong after all the suffering he and his family have been put through, Huang replied, “If I give up Falun Gong, I give up my life, my soul, everything.”
Ever since the CCP began the persecution seven years ago, Mr Huang has been on the run, moving day to day from house to house. Kaixin always asks, “Dad, where is our home?”
Now they have a home on the shores of New Zealand and Mr Huang says he will give his daughter much love and care, the evidence of which shines through in both of them.
Mr. Huang says he is very fortunate to have escaped from the persecution, but numerous practitioners in China are still suffering and nobody knows about it. He said there are many, many cases just like him but the CCP covers everything up and suppresses information.
Many children are orphaned after both parents have been tortured to death and some imprisoned parents have lost contact with their children, not knowing if their child is still alive, or where they have been taken. Some are lost and never found.
Mr Huang told the tragic story of another fellow practitioner in China who had a young baby of only a few months old. She was arrested for practicing Falun Gong, leaving no one at home to look after the baby. Having nobody to care for it, the baby died. Later, a neighbour found the baby's body, which had been eaten by insects.
Mr Huang hopes his story will bring people's attention to this persecution, to help end the suffering in China.
Mr Huang says his life has been something like a movie, and he cannot believe he is finally on the safe shores of New Zealand, that it's real.
Only two short months ago he was still on a hunger strike for freedom in Thailand, and worried they would send him back to China.
Now he is in New Zealand and very grateful to the NZ people for not forgetting about human rights and justice.
“Kiwi's are so friendly and they touch my heart,” he said, “I would like to thank the NZ government and people, for helping me resettle here and giving me a home and freedom to practice Falun Gong, freedom to continue my belief.”