Mr. Wei Chunyu, a mechanical engineer and a resident of Changchun City, Jilin Province, passed away on April 14, 2020, 18 years after he was forced to become homeless for his faith in Falun Gong. He was 56.
Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa) is a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999.
Mr. Wei was arrested five times and tortured for practicing Falun Gong. On September 2, 2001, he escaped from the brainwashing center and was forced to become homeless to avoid further persecution. Due to his faith, his wife divorced him and his parents passed away under the extreme pressure from the CCP. Mr. Wei was not able to see his son for the last time due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Mr. Wei left behind a few of his clothes, his ID card that was issued less than two years ago, and a few blurred photos taken 20 years ago after he was violently tortured at the Changchun No. 2 Detention Center.
Among his belongings were two important documents. One of them was an 11-page criminal complaint that Mr. Wei had filed against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese dictator who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong. Another document was his application to return to work, dated January 8, 2018.
In the second document, he wrote how he was forced to become homeless in 2001 after escaping from the brainwashing center and that he had been thinking of his coworkers, hoping that they would be able to understand Falun Gong and not be deceived by the CCP's lies.
In 2018, Mr. Wei went back to Changchun and transferred the title of his home to his son, who has been deprived of his father’s love since 12. He also went to his former workplace to submit his application but was told by the company to wait for their news. Until his death, Mr. Wei had never heard from his workplace.
Below is his own account of his story.
From Farmer to Award-winning Engineer
I was born in February 1964 in Shitouhe Town, Huanan County, Heilongjiang Province. My parents were hardworking farmers and I was the youngest among my five siblings. My father never went to school, but he was very smart and insisted that we all go to school. He’d hired someone to help out during the busy harvest season, rather than calling us from our desk to work in the field.
My four elder sisters became teachers, an accountant, and a civil servant. I was admitted to the Wuhan University of Technology, majoring in mechanical engineering. Our family became a success story among locals.
Upon graduation from college in 1986, I started to work at an automotive manufacturing company in Changchun City, Jilin Province, where Falun Gong was first introduced to the public.
In 1992, I was conferred to the rank of a professional engineer. I was always conscientious and responsible at work. I was once honored as a model worker in the Design Institute. In 1997, at the age of 33, I became the head of the professional group as a technical elite in my working unit.
Setback by Poor Health
Just as life seemed to be full of promise, I was struck down by declining health as a result of years of hard work. I was in despair in early 1997 and wanted to jump down from my apartment building. I didn't jump in the end when I thought of my wife and son.
At the end of 1995, I suddenly lost sleep one night when I was assigned to Shenzhen for work. Since then, I couldn't sleep. A few days later, my company told me to hurry back as I had been assigned a very big project. I quickly went back. Initially, I relied on sleeping pills but it soon became ineffective.
I had to work overtime every day starting from the third day of the Chinese New Year in 1996 and couldn't find the time to go for a physical exam. I thought that I would go for a check-up after finishing the project and rest for a while. Though I was uncomfortable, I pushed on. Unexpectedly, when the set of drawings were nearing completion, the model changed and I had to redraw them again. I started to work overtime every day again and couldn't sleep.
My body was getting worse and worse, my head was swollen, my eyes were swollen, and my thinking was getting less and less agile. Sometimes I felt that my left eye was rusty and used my hand to rub it. I was still thinking of going to the hospital when I finished my project.
A year went by, and in early 1997, my body couldn't hold on anymore. I couldn't sleep and had no appetite. I was upset all day and my temper became bad. My brain felt like a rock. I couldn't remember what my coworker said. I decided to go to the hospital for an exam as I couldn't work and was told that I had glaucoma, cerebral infarction, insomnia, and binocular optic nerve atrophy.
I hired a famous professor for the surgery, and afterward, I went to Changchun City No. 2 Hospital for regular massage and injections. My intracranial pressure and intraocular pressure were reduced. I could finally sleep and I wasn't upset anymore. However, my condition was unstable and I didn't dare to read books or watch television.
I went back to work after resting for three months. My supervisor took care of me and gave me a drawing to proofread. I looked at it for 25 minutes and my old illness recurred. I started going to all the hospitals and trying out Western and traditional Chinese medicine. Whenever I looked at colorful things, I would feel like I was standing on a small boat and lost my balance. I couldn't do anything.
Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
When I was struggling, a retired coworker gave me lecture recordings from the founder of Falun Gong on January 2, 1998. I finished all the recordings at one go and understood the meaning of life.
On January 7, 1998, five days after I started to practice Falun Gong, all my illnesses disappeared. I could resume working again. My other illnesses were also cured and my eyes stopped hurting.
I started to follow Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in my life. I became more considerate of others' difficulties and no longer asked for reimbursement at work. I also stopped choosing the work assigned by my supervisor. Once, my supervisor called me to his room and asked how many points should he give me (the points will affect our bonus). I told him to do it fairly and he commented that if everyone was just like me, it would be easy for them to be leaders.
Before practicing Falun Gong, I used to play mahjong and gamble with my coworkers on the weekends, and I would also swear at people. After learning the practice, I got rid of these bad habits and stopped scolding others.
Following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to be a good person has made my life much more relaxed.
The Beginning of the Repeated Arrests
After Jiang Zemin started the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999, I had tried to tell people how I benefitted from practicing Falun Gong but was arrested multiple times.
First Arrest and Detention
I was washing clothes at home in August 1999 when the officers from Silan Dajie Police Station called and told me to visit the station. Upon arrival at the police station, an officer asked me if Falun Gong is a cult. I said no and was arrested. I was detained at Qichechang Detention Center for 15 days.
Second Arrest and Tortured in Detention Center
On October 6, 2000, I went to Tienanmen Square in Beijing to perform the exercises as a way to appeal for Falun Gong. I was arrested and handcuffed by police from Changchun City and taken to Changchun.
While on the train returning to Changchun, the police collected berth fees from each Falun Gong practitioner, but placed 5-6 practitioners in one berth. While traveling, I saw the police handcuff a female Falun Gong practitioner in the aisle. They punched and kicked her, and spit on her face, all the while swearing at her.
After returning to Changchun, I was first detained in the Changchun City Public Security Bureau. On October 9, 2000, I was transferred to Changchun No. 2 Detention Center. Upon my arrival in the lobby of the detention center, a young policeman rushed over and punched me in the face.
I was detained for 27 days and regularly beaten by the inmates. They often grabbed me by the hair and smashed my head against the wall. I was doused with 50 to 60 basins of cold water. The inmates also pierced my fingertips with a needle and punched the inside of my legs repeatedly, causing my legs to be bruised and was unable to walk or bend down for more than 10 days. They also struck my ankle with a clothes hanger so hard it caused my periosteum to be seriously injured, and this resulted in a hole in my right foot. After my feet started to fester and became swollen, I developed a fever.
The police took an IV and instructed the inmates, who had scabies, to put me on a drip. Without any disinfection, the inmates tried to insert the needle, causing the back of my palm to become swollen. I didn't know what they injected me with. After being on a drip, I had a fever all day and was feeling drowsy.
I was also forced to sit on a small stool every day from morning until night. This torture caused my buttocks to fester.
The inmates also held onto my two fingers and inserted a toothbrush in between them. They rotated the toothbrush forcefully and then took joy in seeing how my fingers were mangled beyond recognition.
At the end of October, the inmates opened the window to let in the cold air. Others were wearing thick clothes while I had to wear a piece of prisoner clothes, causing me to shiver in the cold.
When sleeping at night, everyone has to lie on their side. As I would snore when sleeping, the inmate who was on duty would kick my head until I woke up. I was not able to sleep.
Among these tortures, some were seemingly conducted by the inmates, but it is well-known that without the direction and approval of the guards, they would not behave that way.
Later, I was sent to a labor camp. As my feet were black and too swollen to wear shoes, the labor camp refused to accept me. The police allowed me to get medical treatment from Workers' Hospital of No. 1 Auto Manufacturing. With the help of a kindhearted person, my forced labor term was canceled.
After returning home, I developed scabies and couldn't sleep at night. My workplace refused to let me resume work and force me to write a guarantee statement. With no choice, I wrote it and cried for more than an hour after that.
Third Arrest and Imprisoned at the Brainwashing Center
On June 12, 2001, the neighborhood office incited a group of people to go to my workplace and told me to “study” at the brainwashing center. As my project was nearing the end and I had to hand it over to another coworker, I told them that I couldn't. They then tried to force me to write guarantee statements to renounce my faith. I refused and told them their actions were illegal. As I refused to go with them, they forced me into their car and took me to the Xinglongshan Brainwashing Center.
My supervisor went with me to the brainwashing center. When he left, I tried to send him off out of courtesy but was dragged back by police officer Zhao. He punched me in the head and face, and my spectacles flew out. I didn't respond when he asked me if Falun Gong is a cult. Thus, he continued to hit me and smash my head against the wall. He stopped when he was exhausted. However, the torture didn't stop. He told me to stand facing the wall for an hour before allowing me to enter the room. The next day, I saw his hands were covered with medical tape.
When I entered the room, I saw a young man with black eyes. He was beaten by a policeman named Zhang Zhengzhen. I also saw a female Falun Gong practitioner in her 60's who was said to be beaten by Zhang so severely that she had to lean against the wall as she walked to the restroom. Even after more than a month later, she was in so much pain that she didn't dare to walk.
The brainwashing center is managed similarly as a prison. We live on the first floor with the windows two floors high and with iron railings. The windows are not installed with screens thus we would be frequently bitten by the mosquitoes during summertime. Usually, we are not allowed to leave the room and we would need permission from the two police officers who were standing guard outside the room if we wanted to go to the restroom. If the officers were unhappy, we wouldn't be allowed to use the restroom and it would take us a long time before we could be let out.
The brainwashing center forces practitioners to watch videos slandering Falun Gong every day. We were also forced to listen to a professor slandering Falun Gong. I was locked in the brainwashing center for nearly three months and the authorities threatened to send me to a labor camp if I refused to transform before National Day.
To avoid further persecution, I escaped from the brainwashing center on September 2, 2001, and became homeless.
Arrested for Distributing DVDs and Falun Gong Materials
At the end of July 2012, I was arrested when distributing Falun Gong related materials on the street. The officers from the Domestic Security Bureau interrogated me and one of them even kicked my leg. They released me after five hours but confiscated my materials and bag.
I was distributing the materials on the street on June 3, 2013. When I gave the material to the deputy chief of Huannan County Police Department, he called for other police to arrest me. I was body-searched and my materials were confiscated. I was released after more than two hours.
Experiencing Divorce and the Passing of Parents
After escaping from the brainwashing center, I was dismissed from work. My wife was under pressure and pain. Fearing for our son's future, she divorced me.
Since my son was 10 years old, he had been living in fear and I couldn't care for him since he was 12 years old. We were unable to meet for more than 10 years. Without his maternal grandparents caring for him and his mother, it would have been difficult for them to continue living.
My second and fourth sisters also practice Falun Gong and were persecuted for their faith. My eldest sister was worried for us and would try to rescue us. She even kneeled down once to a secretary from the Political and Legal Affairs Committee to beg for help and was told to pay a sum of money. She developed an eye disease and was physically and mentally hurt by the persecution.
While I was detained, my father passed away in 2001. My mother who used to practice Falun Gong was cured of all her illnesses. When the persecution started, the authorities confiscated her recorder and Master Li's lecture recordings. She became afraid and stopped practicing. When my sisters and I were persecuted, she became frightened and her health deteriorated. She passed away in 2013.
Accumulated Economic Loss Exceeds 1.5 Million Yuan
The persecution has caused tremendous economic losses to me, my family, and my relatives. At the end of 1999, my workplace gave every worker over 20,000 yuan as an allowance but I was deprived of it as I refused to give up on practicing Falun Gong. I was also deprived of a one-month bonus every year.
As I refused to renounce my faith, the workplace took away my opportunity to be promoted to a senior engineer. The workplace also withheld my salary when I was detained at the detention center.
On average, each worker earned about 5,000 yuan a month in 2000. From 2000 to 2015, the accumulated economic loss exceeds 1.5 million yuan.
In the over ten years that I was homeless, I didn't have an ID thus it was difficult for me to find a stable job related to my major. I gave tuition to students, worked as a doorman, and took part-time jobs; I had a meager income.
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