My name is Winston Liu. I work as a computer control engineer at a chemical plant in Wyoming. How I got here is a story fraught with danger.
I have two masters degrees: one from Tsinghua University in Beijing, the so-called “Chinese MIT”; and from the University of Calgary in Canada with a thesis project in Chemical Engineering. In 2005, I escaped to Canada and obtained refugee status as a Falun Gong practitioner being protected by the Canadian government. In 2012 I came to the U.S. on a work visa.
From 1997 to 2005, I was in Tsinghua’s graduate program. I had just started a doctorate degree at the Department of Thermal Engineering in May 1999. My career goal was to become a professor, teaching while doing my research. In June 1999, I was newly married, and things were looking up.
However, in July of 1999 my life was irrevocably changed. I had to live in extreme fear, depression, and panic many times.
My World Turned Upside Down
What happened in the summer of 1999 that changed everything for me? The then-Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin made my spiritual discipline, Falun Gong, illegal. He mobilized the entire Chinese communist infrastructure to “eradicate” Falun Gong. Jiang created a new bureau, called the 6-10 Office, with powers over all other levels of so-called law-enforcement in order to implement Jiang’s orders: to “destroy their reputations, bankrupt them financially, and annihilate them physically.”
Since that time, we have been subject to hate propaganda portraying us as sub-human, designed to justify to the Chinese public Jiang’s persecution of Falun Gong. We have been consistently denied all of the most basic rights, including the right to speak, gather, and believe freely. Many practitioners are not allowed to get an education unless they renounce Falun Gong.
Any one of us, at any time, without any trial, could be put into one of China’s infamous forced labor camps or prisons. In their zeal breaking our wills, and in the process getting monetary bonuses or favors from their superiors, Chinese officials have tortured thousands of us to death.
Furthermore, in prison or labor camp, many of us became unwilling organ donors, and met our deaths that way.
Finding My Faith Was a Blessing
A year earlier in 1998, I was fortunate to find my faith. Falun Gong is a spiritual cultivation discipline that facilitates the transcendence of body, mind, and spirit. Accompanied by five sets of gentle exercises and a meditation, practitioners emphasize a balance among the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.
Our Teacher, Li Hongzhi, asked for no money, no worship, and issued no decrees. Instead, I received guidance in how I could be more responsible to myself and others, and how to become an increasingly better person.
Falun Gong helped fill the empty void that had been left in my heart with the Chinese regime’s wholesale destruction of China’s traditional cultural values. I attained improved health and a state of inner peace.
I was finally in a good place in my life when I married in June 1999. My wife was also a masters student at my university, and a Falun Gong practitioner as well. At this content moment of my life, I dedicated my time to my research and family.
How I Became a Fugitive
In the next few years, I would go in and out of detention four times.
The first time was on July 20, 1999, the date Communist regime started abducting Falun Gong practitioners. I went to the National Appeals Office to ask the authorities to stop the hate propaganda against Falun Gong.
Instead of hearing us or reviewing the documents we submitted, the officials called the police and forced us into the police car. Because I did not want to get into the vehicle, the policemen beat me down and dragged me by my feet for about 50 meters. My clothes were torn off, causing bleeding lacerations on my arms. The police also kicked me in my head. Then I was detained for 12 hours.
Then, in September 1999, communist officials suspended me from my studies after I refused to sign a statement denouncing Falun Gong. Later on, I was held at a university hostel for 15 days, where the communist officials tried to use students, faculty, and even my parents as leverage to break my will.
My parents were forced to stay with me, sharing my poor accommodations at the hostel. They were being used to pressure me in giving up my practice. My parents wept for me frequently, distressing about the implications for my future and fearing for my life.
After that, I became outspoken in exposing to the Chinese people the evil things Communist authorities were doing to Falun Gong practitioners.
In June 2000, I went to Tiananmen Square to peacefully appeal for an end to the persecution against Falun Gong. However, the police assaulted me in public. I was then detained for one month, and charged with “suspected illegal Falun Gong gathering.”
On new year’s day, 2001, policemen broke into my house in the early morning, arrested my wife and me, and confined us in a detention center, apparently to await trial.
My Long Imprisonment
In the following days, a policeman repeatedly shocked me with an electric baton, threatening to kill me if I tried to protest the persecution of Falun Gong again. My heart seemed to be grasped by a hand, and a smell of burning skin diffused in the room. The feeling was something I never want to recall. Sometimes they deprived me of sleep for nights in the interrogation room in order to break my nerves.
After nearly a year’s detention, my wife and I were accused of downloading information about Falun Gong from the Internet and spreading it, hanging up Falun Gong banners, and so on. At the end of the trial, my wife was sentenced to 12 years in jail; and I to three. She spent 10 years at the Beijing Women’s Prison.
During the time I was confined, the mental torture I endured was worse than the physical abuse.
First, I spent six months in solitary confinement in a seven-square-meter room, utterly deprived of human contact. The police told me directly that they would try to drive me insane if I continued with my practice of Falun Gong.
Secondly, I was regularly forced to review materials of hate propaganda fabricated by the Communist-controlled media. Towards the end of my jail time, my hair had turned grey and I was on the verge of a mental collapse.
In this state, I gave in to them. I was released at the end of August 2003, but the police continued to monitor me. And then I got permission to back to school and continue my research work.
I suffer the memories of torture, but even more strongly the feeling when they had broken me. The guilt continues to eat away at me to this day.
Suspicious Medical Exams
When I was a prisoner of conscience, I was forced to have extensive medical exams. I understand now that these tests gave the Communist officials all the information they needed to use me as an unwilling organ donor.
Two months after I was sent to jail in 2002, I was lined up with other Falun Gong practitioners in a yard. And then we were guided by a policeman to the hospital. I had a blood test, an X-ray exam, an eye exam, urine test, and more. We were told that these were regular health assessments for every prisoner. However, according to the inmates who were assigned to monitor me, they had never undergone such extensive exams. They laughed when I told them how Communist officials took care our health.
Obviously, the medical exams were only for Falun Gong practitioners. The Chinese regime’s policies treated us as subhuman and as objects of profit-making. Because of these physical exams, I could have been killed at any time if my physical indexes matched with a patient willing to pay for an organ.
The Free World
To avoid being persecuted and detained again, I looked for a chance to go overseas. In 2005, I was admitted with scholarship to the University of Calgary, Canada.
When I saw local practitioners of Falun Gong on a summer Sunday morning doing the exercises together in Prince’s Island Park, I could not hold back my tears. It had been many years since I felt such freedom. I started practicing in public again.
In Canada, I tried best to rescue my wife out of prison by speaking to the Canadian government and on mainstream media, exposing the human rights abuses committed against the Chinese people.
However, she did not gain freedom until the end of 2010, after 10 years of imprisonment. Worse still, the Chinese Communist Party would not issue her a passport for three years because it was afraid that she would expose what had happened to her.
In 2014, she gave up hope of our ever being able to live together and filed for divorce. Though we had been married 15 years, the time we spent together was less than one year.
Today in China, these crime are still going on in prisons and concentration camps. As we speak, Falun Gong practitioners are being used as unwilling, living organ donors, with the Chinese military and regime reaping millions of dollars in profits from this horrible practice.
I appeal to all people of goodness and justice, and all governments and organizations, not to keep silent on such a crime.