“Split by the State”
As millions of Australian families prepare to celebrate Father’s Day to honour their paternal bonds, for Sydney refugee Eric Jia, his version of Father’s Day is a lonely affair.
The last time he saw his father Ye Jia was 15 years-ago when he was 3-years-old. This father and son were forcefully split by China’s one-party state, simply because Ye Jia wanted to meditate and follow his beliefs.
He practices Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation and spiritual practice based on the principles of ‘Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance’. It rose to popularity in China in the 1990’s, with over 100 million people experiencing its health benefits.
These numbers proved too overwhelming for the Chinese regime, which with around 60 million communist members at the time, saw the practice as a threat. Former dictator Jiang Zemin initiated a country-wide crackdown and persecution against the peaceful movement, that hasn’t waned since it began on July 20, 1999.
As days and months turned into years, the state-sanctioned persecution has taken a heavy toll on fathers, sons and families alike, who have suffered severely and have too often been torn apart.
Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, “Split by the State”, its release comes on Father’s Day.
The film’s director Gina Shakespeare said: “this film is dedicated to prisoners of conscience, like Ye Jia, who today number in their millions. It’s also an exposé of the Chinese regime’s relentless use of physical and psychological torture against Falun Gong adherents and their families, told through a young man’s heart.”
Ms Shakespeare recalled being deeply touched as she read Eric Jia’s original letter he wrote to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, pleading to save his dad from a Chinese prison.
“I knew Eric’s story needed to be told and that the letter he wrote was actually the beginning of a powerful script, one that would also move others” she said.
“Hearing that his dad was spending eight years in a Chinese prison, had been tortured, starved and subjected to filthy and inhumane living conditions, I could never fathom this type of ill-treatment, this just doesn’t happen in Australia” said Ms Shakespeare.
“Eric possesses an incredible resilience and determination. His desire for justice and to be reunited with his father, after all this time has never diminished. I really hope the Prime Minister can pressure China to release Eric’s dad urgently.”
Eric spends a good deal of time assisting other Falun Gong families still imprisoned in China by speaking out at rallies, collecting signatures for petitions and even calling prisons in mainland China. Surely something his father would be proud of.
You can also help Eric and his family by sharing the film and by visiting this website and signing the petition.