She is one of the countless innocent citizens who were suddenly viewed as “state enemies” overnight and a threat to the communist regime’s ideologies of Marxism and atheism after the CCP initiated a nationwide crackdown to eradicate Falun Gong—a spiritual meditation system that is freely practiced by over 100 million people across the world but is being violently suppressed in China since 1999.
Angel, 49, fled China in 2015 after enduring years of harrowing persecution and narrowly escaping organ harvesting. She currently resides in Melbourne, Australia, where she enjoys the freedom to follow her faith. However, two decades ago, life was completely different for her.
“They attempted to force me to renounce my faith. But I’m not a piece of wood. I have my own thoughts,” Angel, who declined to give her Chinese name due to safety concerns, told the Falun Dafa Information Center, recalling the torture she faced after she was abducted from work by the Chinese police and taken to a brainwashing center in 2001.
“This is a trampling of human rights, trampling freedom of belief.”
In order to protest against the barbaric persecution, Angel went on a hunger strike, but that resulted in more abuses. Authorities pushed a rubber tube into Angel’s mouth to force-feed her while several people pressed her down.
“When they pulled out the tube, it was covered in blood. I really don’t want to recall this…” Angel said of the harrowing experience.
Faith Rooted in ‘Truth, Compassion, Tolerance’
Angel recalled the pre-1999 days when between 70 million and 100 million people were practicing Falun Gong in China alone.
“Falun Gong’s incredible healing efficacy enabled many people to have stronger, healthier bodies,” Angel said. “So, people naturally wanted to tell others about it. In just a few years, hundreds of millions of people were practicing.”
Back in the days at the young age of 28, Angel suffered from several health issues and anxiety.
“This led to depression,” Angel said. “I couldn’t control my emotions, and felt lost in life.
“Being so distressed all the time caused my heart rate to become irregular. Sometimes when climbing two flights of stairs, my heart would palpitate like crazy, my body would feel weak, and I would be sweating … Moreover, my liver developed a problem, it became very painful.”
Angel said her “psychological pain far outweighed her physical pains.”
Feeling hopeless, she felt that she wouldn’t even make it to the age of 40. In the pursuit to regain her health, Angel decided to try the meditative exercises of Falun Gong. “After practicing Falun Gong, I became a cheerful, optimistic, happy person,” she said.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient mind-body cultivation system based on the universal tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance; the practice consists of five gentle and slow-moving exercises.
Persecuted Severely for Faith
Since July 1999, countless Falun Gong adherents have been arrested and tortured during illegal incarceration. Thousands of practitioners across China have died as a result of the persecution in the last 21 years. Angel is one of the many living witnesses who have survived these brutalities firsthand.
In 2000, with the hope to appeal for the freedom to practice Falun Gong, Angel along with four other adherents got on a train to Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
“We went to appeal for our right to practice freely, in peace,” she recalled. “We’d only been sitting for 10 seconds or so when we were illegally abducted.
“Police and plainclothes officers were everywhere on Tiananmen Square.”
After Angel was taken to a local police station, she was questioned about where she lived and worked. However, as she refused to reveal her identity, police officers burned the back of her hand with a lighter, which resulted in big blisters.
However, another adherent divulged Angel’s and others’ identities to the police officers after struggling to endure the physical abuse. Angel was then sent back to her city, where she was detained at her workplace for four long days and monitored round the clock.
“I was traumatized by the incident,” Angel said. “This was my first time being persecuted.”
However, it was not the end of the torture that she was going to face. Just a year later, in December 2001, police officers again illegally abducted Angel from her workplace and took her to a brainwashing center, where she went for a hunger strike to protest the persecution. She was force-fed salty meals mixed with unknown substances.
The abuse took a toll on Angel’s health, and her blood pressure became dangerously low. Her family received a letter stating that she was going to be “unconditionally released.” Although back home, she was still monitored by the communist officials.
After her health stabilized, she continued her efforts to expose the persecution. In 2004, she was again arrested for the third time for handing out informational brochures about the practice and its suppression. The torture Angel endured this time was worse and more inhumane than her first two incarcerations.
“Several people pinned me down to force-feed me,” Angel said. “In order to get released earlier, prisoners collaborated with the police to torture us wildly.”
Some prisoners jumped on her chest “with as much force as possible with their whole body weight pressing down.” Meanwhile, other prisoners grabbed her head and pulled her hair.
“They force-fed me extremely salty things. I felt terribly thirsty. My tongue felt dry like sand,” she said. “My stomach felt like it was burning. I don’t know what they poured in.”
Recalling a startling incident during the March 2004 detention, Angel said: “When I was incarcerated, guards drew my blood. I was confused at the time. Of the 20 people detained in that large room, why was only my blood drawn? Why didn’t they take blood from anyone else?”
However, being the sole Falun Gong adherent in the cell during that time, Angel only realized two years later the reason why her blood was withdrawn.
“It was finally in 2006 when the truth was revealed. The Chinese Communist Party is killing Falun Gong practitioners for their organs to sell. That’s when I finally realized that the CCP is engaged in such evil. Killing innocents on-demand,” Angel said.
In 2006, two independent Canadian investigators—David Matas, an international human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, a former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia Pacific) and human rights advocate—published a 46-page report, accompanied by 14 appendices, confirming that Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are being murdered for their vital organs in China.
Being force-fed for a month and after undergoing horrific torture, Angel’s condition began to deteriorate, and she was unable to walk or take care of her well-being; she was admitted to the forced labor camp’s infirmary.
“A doctor said that as my endocrine was a mess, I could die at any moment, so it was useless to treat me. They refused to accept me,” she said.
Angel’s family was notified to pick her up. When her mother saw her lying immobile, she was shocked.
“I was persecuted to the point of being unrecognizable. My elderly mother cried, shouting my name. The policemen told my mother: ‘We’re handing her over to you. She’s still alive,’” Angel recalled.
‘Feeling of Hope’
After facing horrendous abuses, Angel knew staying in China was life-threatening for her.
“Living under the Communist Red Terror in China, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be safe. Given the danger, and in desperation, I fled China and flew to Australia, this beautiful and free country,” Angel said.
Now residing in Australia for the last five years, Angel works as a cleaner for 20 days a month, and in the remaining time, she endeavors to create awareness of the persecution still ongoing back in her beloved homeland of China.
Despite rain or shine, Angel is determined to expose the CCP’s crimes and is often seen silently holding a large white banner that reads “Stop Persecuting Falun Gong” directly opposite the main entrance of the Chinese Consulate in the Melbourne neighborhood of Toorak.
Angel strives to collect signatures for a petition to be sent to the Australian government, calling for an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong.
“As long as I do my part well, by allowing people to realize the terrible truth of the situation in China, people will willingly take my signature board to sign. For me … that’s hope,” Angel said.
She further adds that witnessing people’s kindness is the “most beautiful thing.”
“When I see people reading our materials and learning about the persecution, that feeling of hope arises,” Angel said.
Arshdeep Sarao contributed to this report.