In 1997 Aunt Zhao came from China to visit her son in Sydney, Australia. In 1999, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its persecution of Falun Gong, Aunt Zhao would calmly sit in front of the Chinese Consulate to appeal 2-3 times per week, rain or shine. In April of 2002, Aunt Zhao's passport was to expire and she had to go to the Consulate to renew it. Six months after the application was submitted to the Consulate official Chen Yonglin, the passport was still not renewed.
|Aunt Zhao reading a Falun Gong book||Chen Yonglin|
The Consulate Official Who Didn't Want to be a Wicked Person
In April of 2002 Aunt Zhao went to the Consulate to renew her visa. When she submitted her application, the Consulate official, Chen Yonglin, came out and told her, "There is no need to come to get your passport. Everyone here knows you because of your constant appeals in front of the Consulate [so your passport won't be renewed]." Aunt Zhao replied, "I came to the Consulate to express my views on the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong, but I am still Chinese and should have a Chinese passport."
Later, Chen Yonglin telephoned Aunt Zhao and asked her to come to the Consulate. Upon seeing her, Chen said, "Your son has submitted my name to the wicked person list [a list on the Internet of people who actively persecute Falun Gong]. Why are you doing this? I am not bad. I've had a hard life since I was child, I lost my father when I was 3, and it was very hard for my mother to raise me by herself. Even now she still has to get water from the well and cook for herself." Chen also said, "We work very hard here, but our pay isn't even worth that of a mistress or prostitute in China." That day Chen Yonglin talked to Aunt Zhao for an hour.
Eventually, the designated time limit for passport renewal by the Consulate was reached. However, not only was Aunt Zhao's passport not renewed, but her passport was also confiscated. The Consulate didn't notify her or reply to her requests. Aunt Zhao went inside the Consulate several times to attempt to retrieve it. She encountered Chen Yonglin every time, but she never bothered to find out his full name. On one occasion she didn't see him, and she thus went to the receptionist and asked for him. The receptionist replied, "We have two people named Chen, which one are you looking for?" Aunt Zhao said, "I'm looking for the one from Zhejiang Province with glasses." The receptionist then told her, "You don't meet the proper rank to see him directly."
After a while, Chen Yonglin personally came out of the Consulate and asked Aunt Zhao why she was looking for him. She replied, "I'm looking for you because I want my passport back! If you won't return it to me and you won't extend it, then what am I supposed to do?" Chen Yonglin began to stall, "Why do you want to go back [to China]?" Aunt Zhao told him, "My mother-in-law is in her nineties and she is very sick. I have to go back to see her. I haven't been back for six years." Chen Yonglin said, "You shouldn't go back, the situation is tense now [regarding the persecution of Falun Gong] back in China. Couldn't you just sit here and continue to practise your exercises? Why don't you apply for refugee status?" Aunt Zhao felt both upset and a little strange, for this was the first time she heard a CCP official suggest that she apply for refugee status.
Six months later, Aunt Zhao finally received her un-renewed passport, leaving her without a legal status.
From 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. every morning, Aunt Zhao and five other Falun Gong practitioners practised the Falun Gong exercises in the park behind the Chinese Consulate. Afterwards, they went directly to the front of the Consulate and sat in meditation to appeal. Chen Yonglin lived nearby and did morning exercises in a different location. Aunt Zhao and Chen Yonglin often ran into each other.
One time Chen Yonglin said to Mrs. Zhao, "Every day you come so early to the Consulate. You don't eat, or do anything else. Doesn't your daughter-in-law object?" Mrs. Zhao replied, "You already know that my daughter-in-law also practises Falun Gong. She doesn't mind. If you truly care about me just renew my passport." Chen said, "I personally can't renew it and what I say doesn't count. Four people have to sign it for renewal. If I signed it for you, then I would have to go back to China."
This continued for four years. That is, Aunt Zhao sat in front of the Consulate. She knew that this young man had very accurate information about the Falun Gong practitioners. He knew that Aunt Zhao's son and daughter-in-law practise Falun Gong, and that they had been detained for a month because they had not reported to Public Security within 24 hours of arriving in China. He knew that Mr. Li, another older practitioner, did not have much education and came from the countryside. He also knew that Xiao Hui's father used to be a party branch secretary. He seemed to know all the details of these Falun Gong practitioners' lives.
When the persecution in China got more intense, Chen Yonglin would come out and visit these "old friends," asking questions such as why a certain practitioner didn't come today, and where did so-and-so go. Moreover, he indicated that he admired these Falun Dafa practitioners, who appeared very ordinary and did not call attention to themselves, but succeeded at everything they did. Before the Sydney Consulate moved to a new address, Chen Yonglin told the practitioners that they were moving and that he did not want the practitioners to go there. But in fact before the Consulate moved, his "old friends" had already studied how to get there and rented a residence across the street from the new Consulate. One time he even said to the practitioners, "When the persecution of Falun Gong ends, I will invite you people to dinner at my expense."
Aunt Zhao felt that aside from being a Consulate official, Chen Yonglin was a fine young man, and that he should not be led by the CCP to do bad things. Aunt Zhao found an opportunity to speak with him and said, "Young man, no matter where you are, no matter how high-ranking an official you are, you need to have a conscience and truly serve the people, and not abuse the people. The government stays but officials will come and go. Can you guarantee that you will always be an official? Who will vouch for you when you are not an official anymore?" Chen Yonglin replied that he knew this. Aunt Zhao also urged him to stay in Australia and not go back to China. Chen said that wouldn't be possible, as not going back meant "betraying the party and the country."
Finally Leaving the Party
At close to 10:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, May 26th, Aunt Zhao saw Chen Yonglin and his wife and child walk out of the Consulate without any luggage or bags. He had a natural manner but his wife seemed very nervous and a little fearful. Chen Yonglin came up to Aunt Zhao. He regretfully smiled and said, "Has your legal status application been approved [by the Australian government]?" Aunt Zhao replied, "Thanks for your concern, it will take another year." Chen said, "I'm sorry, I cannot help you much, my tenure is up." Aunt Zhao said, "Thank you, I know you tried your best." Then Chen Yonglin asked Aunt Zhao for her home telephone number. At that time, Aunt Zhao could never have guessed that from the day that he walked out of the Consulate, Chen Yonglin never turned back.
A few days later on June 4th at the "Never Forget June 4th" assembly in Sydney, Aunt Zhao was pleasantly surprised to see Chen Yonglin come out publicly to announce his withdrawal from the CCP and testify against the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong. Aunt Zhao saw that the young man, who was previously in the Consulate fortress, finally made the brave choice to not go along with the CCP's evil spirit, and become a clear-headed free man. She could not help but give him the thumbs-up sign in support.
On July 8th, forty days after leaving the Consulate, Chen Yonglin and his family received a permanent protection visa from the Australian government. Once Aunt Zhao heard this news, she knew that Chen Yonglin had passed a most significant period in his life, and that the road afterwards would continue to get broader.
As always, Aunt Zhao still goes to the Chinese Consulate with other Falun Gong practitioners to sit in meditation and appeal for justice. More warmth and brightness fills her heart. She wants to bring this warmth and brightness over that high wall across the street. She believes that there will be more people like Chen Yonglin who are watching and are waiting.
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